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FMQs: ‘zero tolerance’ approach to unlawful Extinction Rebellion protests necessary

There must be a “zero tolerance” approach to unlawful Extinction Rebellion protests, Douglas Ross has said.

At First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Conservative Leader raised concerns about the potential for heavy traffic and disruption from protesters affecting ordinary Glaswegians.

He highlighted comments from Extinction Rebellion, who said they were planning “deliberate disruption” with the most impact possible.

He asked Nicola Sturgeon for reassurances that the SNP-run council and SNP Government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to unlawful protests and that plans were in place to prevent disruption to people’s lives.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “COP26 presents a huge opportunity to tackle climate change but for working people across Glasgow, it will disrupt their daily lives, even with this RMT strike cancelled.

“Extinction Rebellion have said they are planning “deliberate disruption” with the most impact possible.

“We all respect the right of protesters to express their views, but we cannot sit back and allow deliberate and dangerous disruption of people’s lives that could risk public safety.

“People across Glasgow need reassurances that there will be a zero tolerance approach from the SNP Government and city council towards protests that disrupt people going to work, including hospital staff and ambulances carrying people in urgent need of medical care.

“It is one thing to be frustrated by the lack of action on climate change, but it is another thing entirely to take that frustration and use it to disrupt working people’s lives.

“We all want COP26 to be a success - it’s not just an opportunity to tackle climate change, it’s a once-in-a-generation chance to highlight the best of Glasgow to the rest of the world.

“It’s already been a rocky road getting to this point, from strike threats to hospital appointments being cancelled to the well-known problems with bin collections and concerns over wider travel disruption.

“Nicola Sturgeon claims that the SNP-run council and SNP Government have done everything they can to minimise disruption to commuters and local residents. But we will soon find out if their plans are sufficient.”