EDINBURGH City Council has said it “regrets” that young people planning strikes to highlight the need to take action on climate change were told they faced arrest if they marched down Princes Street.

Councillor Ellie Bird, the council’s SNP group leader, admitted that comments made in the licencing committee meeting were “deeply unhelpful” and said young people should not have been left “feeling vilified” for simply exercising their right to peaceful protest.

The comments were made last Tuesday when young people put forward proposals to march down Princes Street during the Youth Climate Strike protest in the city on Friday.

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The march was allowed to continue on a different route, but young people were told that if they marched down the capital’s main thoroughfare organisers could be arrested.

The city council has declared a climate emergency, but last month its education committee voted to allow only one authorised day off school a year to go on climate strikes.

Police Scotland raised no official objection to the event, but teenage event organisers were left shaken following the council meeting.

Councillor Bird, interim SNP leader while Councillor Adam McVey is on paternity leave, told the Sunday National that it was “really regrettable” that young people had been left worried and anxious.

“The council has been clear that we will allow our young people the day off school,” she said.

“We know that they will be exercising their right to protest under human rights legislation, so it is unhelpful that they are left feeling vilified.

“I do accept that this is really regrettable.”

Young people and their parents should feel confident about attending the strike, she added.

However, youth strikers involved in organising the Edinburgh event said the comments were too little too late, and claimed that damage to the reputation of the event.

They fear that as a result, attendances might be lower than they might otherwise have been.

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Dylan Hamilton, of Scottish Youth Climate Strike in Edinburgh, said: “I appreciate that the council does see how it looked and that it regrets that now.

“But it was still said, and even if it has been retracted it was harmful. It caused us teenagers a great deal of anxiety and it could impact on the number who attend.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland told the Sunday National yesterday: ‘‘We are aware of the climate change demonstration due to take place in Edinburgh of September 20.

‘‘We acknowledge the right of people to protest, and we will facilitate legitimate protest and ensure that the disruption to the local community is kept to a minimum.

‘‘However, if it should be the case that the conditions for the demonstration taking place are breached by participants then that will be dealt with appropriately and proportionately at the time.’’