Extinction Rebellion Harrogate: why we removed plastic grass from town centre

Extinction Rebellion Harrogate have intervened in the public row over plastic grass in planters in one of Harrogate's main shopping streets

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 5:01 pm
Planter controversy in Harrogate town centre -  The plastic grass suddenly disappeared to be replaced by real soil and a poem by Harrogate Extinction Rebellion.
Planter controversy in Harrogate town centre - The plastic grass suddenly disappeared to be replaced by real soil and a poem by Harrogate Extinction Rebellion.

The fake grass had been placed by Harrogate council over tree roots in raised flower beds on Cambridge Street.

But today the plastic grass suddenly disappeared from one of the controversial planters to be replaced by real soil and a poem installed in the planter.

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Members of Extinction Rebellion Harrogate admitted they were responsible for the action.

One of the actions coordinators for Extinction Rebellion Harrogate said: "We were really shocked, confused and disappointed by the sudden appearance of the fake plastic grass the council had laid.

"We don't want Harrogate to be a plastic town as it has so much to offer.

"Harrogate Borough Council are sending the message that 'neat and tidy' is more important than biodiversity. And XR Harrogate strongly disagree. As there was no public consultation we felt it was best to quickly bring back nature."

But the council has defended the process, saying it is 'testing ways' to brighten up the town centre.

A spokeswoman for Harrogate Borough Council said:“The trees mean any plants in the beds struggle for light and moisture, so we’re looking at potential ways of keeping the beds neat and tidy without plants in them.

“When summer bedding plants become available, we will place additional planters and hanging baskets in the town centre to add a splash of vibrant colour.

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback about the changes we’ve made.”

Extinction Rebellion Harrogate said: "Several of us went together at 9am Tuesday and carefully removed the AstroTurf and replaced it with shade loving plants, that had kindly been donated by some of our members.

"We are going to return the fake grass to the council with a letter explaining our standpoint. We do not want to cause damage, we want our town to be reputable and beautiful.

"We had overwhelmingly positive feedback from all passersby. They were also disappointed by the "stupid plastic stuff" and so encouraging of everything we were doing!

"Everyone was incredibly supportive, several offered donations both monetary and plants they had grown.

"Hopefully, the council will fix the problem they have created by taking the same action that we have for the remaining tree beds/ planters.

"We say Harrogate council have entirely contradicted their own Carbon Reduction Strategy with removal of carbon sequestration and (priority 4) where they state they will ‘eliminate the use of single use plastics from our premises where possible".

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