Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors have been arrested for digging up a lawn outside the Home Office to protest against coal mine expansion today.
The militant environmental group were protesting against the expansion of an open-cast coal site in Bradley, Durham this morning.
Campaigners dressed in suits mounted the side of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with spades and began digging up turf next door to the Home Office.
They carried banners addressing Tory Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick that read: ‘If you’re in a hole stop digging.’
Within the space of a few minutes, the green turf had completely disappeared, leaving brown earth in its place and all over the pavement.
Video footage shows dozens of police officers storming towards them as they lay down in the mud before being handcuffed and taken away.
Police stood and watched as Extinction Rebellion dug up a lawn outside the Home Office to protest against coal mine expansion in the north of England today
The militant environmental group were protesting against the expansion of an open-cast coal site in Bradley, Durham, outside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is located next to the Home Office building in central London
MailOnline has contacted the Metropolitan Police and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for comment.
Commenters on social media were confused by the protest, with many branding the group hypocritical for digging up grass to call for environmental action.
Others called for the police to arrest them, with one tweeting: ‘Disgusting vandals, zero sympathy for this. You should be ashamed of yourselves.’
Someone else posted: ‘In the process digging up perfectly good soil which you could have planted trees and flowers. Ffs this is beyond hypocritical.’
Commenters on social media were confused by the protest, with many branding the group hypocritical for digging up grass to call for environmental action
Another person commented: ‘Why would you even do such a thing!!! You should be arrested for criminal damage!!
‘You say non-violent but you clearly think you are above the law!! I wish we had the water cannons available, then again you could plead you were being victimised then !!!! #Double standards.’
It comes months after Extinction Rebellion (XR) brought London to a standstill with more than fortnight of crippling protests.
From occupying Smithfields meat market to blockading bridges over the Thames with 24-hour raves, the group caused havoc the length and breadth of the capital.
Riots nearly broke out at Canning Town Tube station in east London when activists clambered onto the top of a train to bring them to a halt.
Explaining why they decided to launch today’s bizarre action, an XR spokesman said: ‘We are sending a very visual message to its Minister, Robert Jenrick, telling him: ‘If you’re in a hole, stop digging!”
‘Although Durham County Council are set to decide whether or not to allow the Banks Mining Pont Valley open-cast coal site to expand, Robert Jenrick holds the power to revoke planning permission for the expansion of the site.
Campaigners mounted the side of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with spades and began digging up turf next to the Home Office
‘Campaigners are urging Mr Jenrick, who has a record of protecting heritage buildings in the UK and Middle East, to apply the same diligence in defending Pont Valley.
‘The science is telling us that we need to start moving our society away from a reliance on fossil fuels – with the IPCC report concluding that we must bring about ‘rapid, far-reaching & unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ to avoid the most appalling consequences.
‘This means making brave decisions – including a move away from coal power and coal extraction.
‘No such promises have been made for coal extraction in the UK. With coal power stations set to be phased out in the UK by 2025, but no deadline for the extraction of coal in the UK, we’re in the midst of a dangerous coal mining scramble at the expense of our climate, local communities and natural environment.’
Another XR coal mine expansion protest is pictured in Durham, with activists waving placards and banners that say: ‘Tell the truth’