Extinction Rebellion protester, 17, climbs crane in Norwich

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A teenage Extinction Rebellion protester has climbed a crane in Norwich after the movement postponed a mass demonstration due to the second national lockdown.

Alex Sidney, who scaled the crane in Duke Street early on Saturday morning while carrying a sleeping bag and supplies, has vowed to stay put until he has “mild hypothermia”.

Norwich police were called to the scene just before 6.40am and have arrested three people in connection with the incident.

“I’m up here to tell the government and the council to get up off their arses and do something, because I’m worried about the climate,” said Sidney, 17, from Dereham, in Norfolk, from the crane.

He said: “I’m desperate because there’s no easy fix, there’s no alternative, and my generation are the ones inheriting this planet – so I really want to try and not let it go to waste.”

Alex, who is on a gap year, will remain on a gantry outside the crane’s cab, which he said is about 33 metres high, for an “indefinite” time. Although lacking a tarpaulin or tent, the rain forecast in the area later on Saturday could force him back to the ground.

Alex Sidney scales a crane in Norwich.

James Graham, Extinction Rebellion’s Norwich spokesman, said the crane protest went ahead in place of a much larger demonstration, which had to be postponed due to the national lockdown in England.

Protest is not included among the non-exhaustive list of exemptions to the latest coronavirus rules, which came into effect on Thursday.

While there is no explicit ban on protests, rights groups have expressed fears the removal of the exemption will render organising large-scale lawful protest almost impossible.

Graham said: “The message, fundamentally, is that while we know Covid is an immediate problem it does not trump the reality that our world is changing faster than the life on it, including us, can handle.

“Yes, obviously working at height can be dangerous, but in addition to the health-and-safety measures already in place on site to minimise the risk of accidents, Alex is a bright young man who is fully invested in his own safety.

“None of us want to see anyone getting hurt, and we risk-assess all our actions beforehand.”

He said it was decided that the risks of inaction on the climate and ecological emergency outweighed any risks being taken by XR.

Officers remain in attendance and have asked members of the public to avoid the area.

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