Extinction Rebellion makes 100-mile River Bann journey

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

  • Published
Extinction Rebellion activists in a boat
Image caption,
Extinction Rebellion activists wish to highlight issues along the route of the River Bann

A group of environmentalists have completed a 100-mile journey on the River Bann to highlight issues along its course.

For a week Extinction Rebellion members walked and canoed from its source in the Mournes to the sea at Castlerock.

They said they wanted to highlight practices along the route which they oppose.

It includes the extraction of peat and sand around Lough Neagh, and problems with water and plastic pollution.

One of the main focuses was on the continued dispute about the route of the new A6 at Toomebridge.

Supporters of the road say it will make journeys between Belfast and Derry faster and safer.

But activists says it will impinge on the important protected wetland of Lough Beg and damage a cultural landscape celebrated in the poetry of Seamus Heaney who lived locally.

Image caption,
The journey up the river was stormy at times

Members of the group walked the river for two days before putting five canoes into the water at Gilford.

They canoed the rest of the way through sometimes stormy weather.

'It gets chipped away'

Paul Brogan said the group wanted to highlight not just climate change, but biodiversity loss as well.

"Every year it just gets chipped away... and what are we passing on to the future generations?" he said.

Student Lucy Jarvis had broken her toe, and she and the others had to cope with the long periods of walking and bad weather.

"We're putting ourselves out of our comfort zone to bring attention to the problem," she said.

Image caption,
The extraction of peat and plastic pollution are among the issues being raised by the group

She said the group had all come from different backgrounds and included in their ranks, artists, scientists musicians and writers.

She said they all shared a common vision and wanted to get people engaged in a debate about the issues.