Extinction Rebellion planning 'uprising' at Duke's estate over Kettering warehouse plan

They’re planning to make their voices heard on the Duke of Buccleuch’s land
Boughton House near Kettering.Boughton House near Kettering.
Boughton House near Kettering.

Extinction Rebellion activists are set to take the fight against controversial Kettering warehouse plans right to the Duke of Buccleuch’s door.

The environment protesters are planning to walk on to the Boughton House estate without permission and hold a family picnic on Sunday afternoon (July 31).

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The stately home and its estate are owned by the Duke, who also owns Weekley Hall Wood and meadow where a plan to build warehouses galvanised a huge community campaign against the proposals.

Weekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam RileyWeekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam Riley
Weekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam Riley

More than 21,000 people have already signed a petition against the application and woodland which was earmarked for removal has been saved from the chop under revised plans.

But with campaigners furious that an area of green space and walking routes could still be lost they’re taking to the Duke’s estate as part of a ‘Midlands uprising’.

An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: “Extinction Rebellion is a community group made up of everyday individuals, the type you might bump into in the supermarket. It’s important to us that we display the humanity of our movement and are not seen as radicals who are just out to get arrested.

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“Disruptive protest and arrest are a core part of our strategy to pressure the government into treating the climate crisis as the serious threat that the science shows us it is, but we are just normal people living in extraordinary circumstances which require an extraordinary response.

Hundreds of people have been arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests around the countryHundreds of people have been arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests around the country
Hundreds of people have been arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests around the country

“We will always remain peaceful, and showing our local community in Northamptonshire that we care about these very specific local issues, as well as discussing how they form a part of the larger crisis, is essential to creating lasting change.”

Sunday’s protest will include a samba drumming workshop, arts and T-shirt printing and speeches from environmental groups, including Save Weekley Hall Wood and conservation scientist turned Extinction Rebellion activist, Dr Charlie Gardner.

But one concerned Kettering resident, who did not want to be named, said it is ‘entirely wrong’ for the Save Weekley Hall Wood campaign to join forces with Extinction Rebellion whose protests elsewhere have seen hundreds of people arrested and buildings damaged.

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He said: “Making it a personal thing and disgracefully trying to intimidate the Duke of Buccleuch in his own home destroys the legitimacy of their environmental argument. It's a tactic which deserves to spectacularly backfire.

“They risk public opinion turning against them if they are seen to condone recklessness by demonstrators.”

Residents across Kettering say the meadow near Weekley Hall Wood to the north of the town is the ‘worst place’ to build more warehouses.

Mary Lloyd, a 47-year-old mum-of-two, said: “This meadow is so precious to our community for many, many reasons. As one of the ever decreasing number of green spaces in the area, it is a source of respite for local families and sees thousands of visitors each week to enjoy its beauty.

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“It played a vital role in maintaining good mental health throughout the Covid lockdown period and continues to pay dividends in physical and mental wellbeing. This is absolutely the worst place to build yet more empty warehousing.”

A spokesman for the Boughton Estate said: "We are aware of the planned gathering by local Extinction Rebellion groups on Sunday and acknowledge their commitment to peaceful protest."