CAMPAIGNERS protested outside council offices to ask the Government for a Citizens Assembly to prioritise people and planet over profit during the COVID-19 recovery.

Extinction Rebellion supporters in Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland gathered locally as part of national action. Protesters adhered to social distancing guidelines and kept roughly three metres apart. Those in attendance were asked to wear mask and only to attend their local protest.

Emma Smart, from Extinction Rebellion said: "As well as exercising our bodies we also exercise our right, under the Human Rights Act, to protest. We protest safely for the future health and safety of our planet and generations of all life.

"Acting on the Climate and Ecological Emergency is essential and in this case, work we cannot do from home, but can carry out safely outdoors, as per government guidance."

Protesters held signs which reflected their feelings on local issues that Extinction Rebellion has highlighted in the last year. These included toxic pollution happening on Boot Hill in Weymouth, the planning application for a new oil well to be developed in Puddletown and the proposal to develop a waste incinerator on Portland.

Len Herbert, from Extinction Rebellion, said: "Dorset Council, having declared a climate and ecological emergency, must be consistent in their decision making. They should clearly state that they will not agree to any planning applications that allow the future mining of dirty fossil fuels.

"They need to develop waste strategies that don’t include incinerators and the pollutant issues that would bring. They should immediately introduce a decent, affordable public transport system that makes our more rural areas accessible and takes traffic out of our towns. These things are within their powers to achieve."

Councillor Ray Bryan, chairman of the Executive Advisory Panel for Climate Change at Dorset Council, said: "Our Climate and Ecological Emergency Executive Advisory Panel is continuing its work on devising and publishing their strategy and action plan.

"Once finalised, this will recommend to Cabinet ways to address future challenges that have both planning and air quality implications, amongst other considerations.

"We remain fully aware of Extinction Rebellion's concerns. We will continue to engage with Dorset organisations and communities as we progress our climate strategy and action plan which is in the final stages of production."

Julie-Ann Booker, a local supporter said: "Dealing with the coronavirus emergency has shown us what’s possible when the political will is there. We know there can be no going back to the way things were.

"We hope there really is the political will to now face the climate and ecological emergency and build back a more positive and sustainable future for us and our children and children’s children."