RESIDENTS have welcomed around 1,000 climate protestors who set up camp on Blackheath, despite criticisms from councillors and police.

The protestors claimed they did not trust police so the location of the Camp for Climate Action was kept secret until the first campaigners pitched their tents by Hare and Billet Road on August 26.

Initially the number of people at the week-long camp, which ends next Wednesday, was around 1,000 though organisers expected it to grow to as many as 3,000.

In the first few days campers handed out 4,000 leaflets to residents, explaining the protest to them and inviting them for a guided tour.

Many residents living by the heath seemed relaxed about the protest, with some saying they would pay the site a visit.

Web designer Stuart Mitchell, 38, of Dartmouth Terrace, said: “It doesn’t bother me really and it’s for a good cause. Let them do it.

“They’ve been really quiet. The most noise at night was from the police helicopter buzzing overhead.”

Looking out over the city, the camp is on common land where, in 1381, preacher John Ball gave what was probably the country's first speech against class oppression as part of the Peasants’ Revolt.

Jim McManus, 60, of Dartmouth Terrace said: “The issues they stand for are very important and it’s good to see that political activism is alive and well.

“It’s common land and because of the history with the peasants’ revolt it’s an ideal spot for them.”

James Allan, 77, of The Orchard, said: “This household is quite relaxed on the whole subject.

“My partner thinks it’s very good for them to get some fresh air.”

But Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock drew parallels between the “stupidity” of the campaigners and football hooligans on his website.

He told News Shopper: “I don’t think that a camp like this, which was unannounced and uninvited in an area which is a beautiful part of London is the right way to do this.

“My concern is that it actually distracts from the practical job of getting up and doing something about climate change.”

The Met Police, which criticised the campaigners’ swoop on the heath, met with Lewisham and Greenwich Council to assess its impact and said they would provide a “low-key local response” with “neighbourhood style” policing around the campsite.