TAXPAYERS have been left with a near £500,000 policing bill from a week-long climate protest at Holyrood last month.
Members of Extinction Rebellion set up camp outside the Scottish Parliament as MSPs debated new legislation on setting targets to tackle climate change.
“No one’s saying the environment isn’t something worth campaigning for,” said Tory MSP Edward Mountain, who uncovered the cost through a freedom of information request.
“But it’s plain to see this particular week-long stunt did more harm than good.
“They got up people’s noses and disrupted the lives of ordinary working folk who were simply trying to go about their daily business in peace.
“Now we learn they’ve cost the taxpayer £500,000 as well. That’s money that could have been spent on supporting police officers and making Scotland safer but has instead been diverted to this needless charade.”
Barricades were manned and security beefed up at Holyrood while internal doors were locked and visitors banned from bringing bags or any liquids.
Police chiefs confirmed the total cost of the operation as £469,196 but refused to give a number of how many officers were involved.
During the session, MSPS voted through amendments to the Climate Change Bill to cut greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2045.
But this would mean missing the 2025 target deadline set by members of Extinction Rebellion Scotland by 20 years.
Dr Anna Fisk, 35, university lecturer and Extinction Rebellion Scotland activist: “We didn’t take the decision lightly to cause disruption to Scottish Parliament staff, Edinburgh traffic, or the police: we acted in good faith because there is no other choice.
Dr Fisk sad ordinary people were compelled to join the protest to stop the Scottish Government “leading us off the edge of a cliff.”
The group’s campaigners closed two of the Capital’s busiest roads during one afternoon rush-hour last month after a day of playing cat and mouse with police.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We have a duty to facilitate peaceful, lawful protests and will engage with the organisers of events to ensure that they are policed appropriately.”