Extinction Rebellion to hold Banbury protest

XR Banbury
XR Banbury

The climate emergency campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, will be holding a Banbury Cross Funeral March demonstration over poor air quality this weekend.

The action is a direct response to a report commissioned by Oxford Friends of the Earth which showed 22 sites across the county have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

The agreed maximum limit of nitrogen dioxide is 40ug/m3, Banbury's Hennef Way had a reading of 84.8ug/m3 making it the most polluted stretch of road in Oxfordshire.

Chipping Norton and Banbury Horsefairs also made the list at 9th (48.1) and 14th (41.8) respectively.

A XR Banbury spokesperson said: "These figures show how air pollution is not just an issue affecting cities. Unacceptably toxic air can be found now in smaller towns.

"It is harming the health of people across the country and is especially bad for young children whose lungs are still developing.

Banbury XR members before April's 'die in'

Banbury XR members before April's 'die in'

"The government and our local councils need to step up and do more to deal with this air pollution crisis. We need clear and committed action, this is unacceptable."

The protest will take the form a funeral procession, complete with a coffin, walking from the meeting place, Friends Meeting House next to the Church House, to Banbury Cross at around 12pm on Saturday, September 14.

Following the march The Declaration of Rebellion will be read out, while the Fine Lady Statue will be adorned with the Extinction Rebellion (XR) symbol and the slogan 'Act Now'.

The group will also cover the face of the horse with a skull mask.

The 'die in' in Castle Quay

The 'die in' in Castle Quay

Extinction Rebellion members will then form a procession behind the coffin, walking slowly around the Banbury Cross, handing out leaflets to passers by and to people in cars.

Traffic will not be brought to a halt, just slowed.

The group have made a national impact since forming in the latter part of 2018. The Banbury Extinction Rebellion Group held a 'die in' within Castle Quay in April, raising awareness of the myriad species under threat of extinction due to human's impact on the planet.

The groups Facebook page now has over 200 members.

One member of the group explained how they became involved: "I became aware of Extinction Rebellion last year just before the five bridges being blocked.

"A neighbour had been researching it and I had looked at their website and thought it looked a bit scary, lots of skulls and it seemed a bit anarchist to me.

"But the neighbour went to the five bridges event in London and came back with very positive reports.

"She told me that it was a very mixed group of people, young and old, lots of people of pension age, from all walks of life. So it didn’t appear to be the anarchist hippy set up I had thought it was.

"At the meetings I realised that everyone was like me, just every day people who are very very concerned about the situation we are in.

"And that no one in charge, the government, for example, seem to be doing anything to change things.

"It seems to me that mass protest is the only way to get through to them.

"Since April, the Banbury group has produced other groups from it’s members who live further away. So now there is a Stratford Upon Avon group as well as Rugby, and North Cotswold is growing too.

"I went to the Spring Rebellion in London last April I was a bit apprehensive, I certainly didn’t want to be arrested.

"Being arrested is a personal choice, you don’t have to do this, you go as far as you feel comfortable with. I felt so supported by all the Banbury and other groups that were there."

Anyone wanting to join the demonstration can meet with the group at 11.30am, at the Friends Meeting House, Horsefair, where climate change activists can, if they so choose, have their face painted to look like skulls.

Attendees are also urged to dress totally in black.