A GAS MASK was fitted to the face of Admiral Lord Nelson as environmental campaigners protested at poor air quality in Britain’s major cities including Leeds.
Some of the country’s most celebrated historic figures found themselves wearing face masks as Greenpeace targeted statues across the capital.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed eight arrests had been made in connection with the stunt, which also saw activists breach Parliament security to fit a mask to the statute of Oliver Cromwell.
Greenpeace campaigner Areeba Hamid said: “Monitoring shows that if these statutes were real people, many of them would often be breathing dangerous, illegal air. That’s why we’ve given them face masks.”
The Supreme Court last year ordered the Government to draw up plans to improve air quality after it was challenged by a group of environmental lawyers over the persistent failure to meet standards on nitrogen dioxide levels.
In December, Environment Secretary Liz Truss unveiled plans to create ‘clean air zones’ in the worst affected cities, including Leeds.
The plans will see the most polluting vehicles face a charge, expected to be around £12.50, for entering the zone.
However, the Government has been criticised for delaying the creation of the new clean air zones until 2020 which means city residents will continue to face substandard air quality for many years.
Greenpeace said a total of 17 statues were being targeted across the capital today, including the depiction of Queen Victoria opposite Buckingham Palace.