CLIMATE activists who staged a protest outside a council meeting and called for a £130m M3 improvement scheme have written an open letter to Winchester's MP.

It comes after Winchester City Council's cabinet approved a consultation response to the junction nine scheme at Winnall, due to get under way in 2021/22, which expressed environmental concerns.

However, staging a 'die-in' on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, where that cabinet meeting was held last week, one Extinction Rebellion protester branded that response "woefully inadequate".

Now, Extinction Rebellion Winchester has penned an open letter to Steve Brine MP, questioning his support for the Highways England project.

It said: "We have a major puzzle we cannot solve. We are wondering why you are continuing to support the Highways England plans to expand M3 junction nine? We ask this because you also insist that you are a champion of the environment and are concerned about the impact of climate change.

"In particular, you often remind voters that you are a long-time supporter of Friends of the Earth (national) and that you are a founder supporter of Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC).

"We would like to respectfully point out the stark incompatibility of your two positions.

"Therefore we call upon you to withdraw your support for a scheme which is now hopelessly out of date due to the unprecedented rate of global warming. The Government’s Science and Technology Select Committee has just published its findings which conclude that to meet vital carbon reduction levels, we simply have to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

"We urge you to lobby instead for the £130 million ring fenced for this project (a cost that will likely increase over time) to be spent on alternative measures to mitigate traffic jams and reduce air pollution: buses, trains, and more sustainable living within Winchester, which would reduce our collective carbon footprint.

"We need our member of parliament to step up to this new reality and not simply take the easy road towards re-election.”

The letter says that if the work was to proceed, it would result in an increase in traffic and greenhouse gas emissions and "will have a significant detrimental effect on biodiversity".

In response to the backlash, a Highways England spokesman said: "With our proposals for improving the M3 at junction nine we are aiming to strike the right balance between upgrading this busy junction and respecting the environment. Congestion at the junction is a real issue for safety and has its own environmental cost.

"Our consultation is an opportunity for people to find out more and help shape the proposals. We welcome all views and we will continue to work closely with all local authorities in the area."

Mr Brine has been approached for comment.