PROTESTERS staged a ‘die-in’ outside a city council meeting as they continued their fight to get M3 improvement plans scrapped.

The Extinction Rebellion protesters led on the steps to Winchester Guildhall ahead of yesterday morning’s meeting of Winchester City Council’s cabinet.

It comes as councillors approved their response to the Highways England’s consultation over the £130million junction nine scheme at Winnall, which one of the protesters branded as “woefully inadequate”.

James Miller, 42, and IT consultant from Badger Farm, Winchester, said: “We don’t want the M3 junction nine changes to happen.

“We intend on ensuring the city council objects.”

Mr Miller added that the response in the report was “woefully inadequate… It focuses entirely on mitigation measures”.

He said it would take “a forest the size of Winchester” to mitigate the carbon effects of traffic on the motorway due to increased vehicles and when asked if they would only be happy if the plans were scrapped, Mr Miller said: “Absolutely.”

The Winchester Green Party echoed calls to scrap the scheme during the meeting.

As previously reported, the scheme aims to reconstruct the junction, which is a notorious motorway bottleneck, but has received criticism over its environmental credentials.

According to the council report that was approved by the cabinet members, Winchester City Council (WCC) will tell highways bosses they want to see more of a focus on reducing the environmental harm of the project.

The letter to Highways England, which was signed by service lead for built environment Julie Pinnock, said: “More work is required to address a range of issues.

“Whatever measures are adopted an increase [in greenhouse gases] will result. An analysis should be provided of the local impacts.”

During the meeting, Cllr Frank Pearson, speaking as a non-cabinet member, said the scheme needed to go ahead to stop vehicles caught in congestion diverting through the city centre and causing more air pollution.

He added that electric cars would help tackle the emissions fears, however cabinet member Cllr Kelsie Learney rejected that, saying: “Electric cars are not the answer to everything. The are not the solution to the climate crisis.”

Cllr Lynda Murphy added she would have preferred the money be invested in public transport.