Regent’s Park gates: Extinction Rebellion activists chain themselves to Park Square East gates to stop through traffic

Protesters chained to the gates of Regent's Park in Park Square East. Picture: Justin McKie

Protesters chained to the gates of Regent's Park in Park Square East. Picture: Justin McKie - Credit: Archant

Activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) chained themselves to gates in Regent’s Park in a protest designed to encourage a clampdown on through traffic.

The idea was to prevent traffic entering the park and to put pressure on the Crown Estates Paving Commission (CEPC) – which owns land around Regent’s Park and controls the gates – to engage with campaigners.

Protesters also called for the abolition of what they called the “unaccountable” CEPC.

XR’s Caspar Hughes was one of the people to chain himself to the rails at 5am on Thursday morning. After negotiations with police, the group unlocked themselves at about 10am.

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Caspar said: “The aim was to highlight the CEPC, an anachronistic quango who have the power to control through traffic in Regents Park.

He added that, along with keeping “peak traffic” out of the park, another priority was “to highlight that transport is the largest emitting greenhouse gas sector in the UK.

Adrian Jackson, of the Parks for People group, said: “We’re thrilled to have been upstaged by an organisation of XR’s presence and credibility.”

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He said he was disgusted that CEPC had not acted to prevent through traffic in the park, despite the “excellent opportunity” of the Covid-19 lockdown.

His group is to hold its own peaceful demo over the issue on September 12 in the park.

CEPC agreeing to the closure of the Regent’s Park gates at peak times was a key stumbling block in discussions over the now-abandoned CS11 cycle lane project.

It declined to comment specifically on the protest, instead pointing to a statement in July that said it was “supportive” of the Royal Parks’ movement strategy – which is in favour of limiting traffic in parks - and said it was working with the Royal Parks to “develop an appropriate traffic management plan” that would “enhance the pedestrian experience”. It said traffic would need to be taken into account,

A Royal Parks spokesperson said: “The closure of park gates is a matter for the CEPC. It is our aspiration to develop a traffic management plan, in partnership with the CEPC and other partners which improves safety and reduces cut-through traffic in the park.”