The 'pirate rebels' who flew more than 200 flags warning of a climate emergency have explained more about their actions after angry boat owners slammed the "irresponsible" protestors who they claim trespassed on their property - although others have come out in support of the stunt.

Local supporters of Extinction Rebellion, a socio-political movement that uses “non-violent civil disobedience” to protest against the climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, have taken responsibility for the flags placed on boats in Falmouth's harbour overnight Friday to Saturday, which bore slogans such as “Act now” and “Your planet needs you."

They included a letter saying: "We apologise for boarding your vessel without permission, but we hope you'll understand the sense of urgency motivating us to take this step and will continue to fly your flag tied to your boat.

"These flags are intended to be a peaceful protest to show that the people of the Falmouth area are worried about our changing climate and serious about taking action to reverse carbon emissions and the loss of our biodiversity."

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However, the move has not gone down well with some people, including some commenters on the Packet's website thepacket.co.uk, where "Falmouth's future" wrote: "What a stupid, irresponsible act that could have lead to people risking their lives to save people who get into trouble whilst trespassing on boats, in dreadful weather conditions."

Michael Wilson, who owns a boat in Falmouth, agreed: "Boat owners and families already feel vulnerable afloat. This is not the same as a flyer on a car windscreen, more like walking into a person's lounge uninvited in the night.

"The group should have approached any of the local boat owner groups / yacht clubs to canvas Falmouth boat owners if they would fly the flags to support / help them make a statement during Falmouth Week - not trespassing on property."

And "Scaroscript" wrote: "How stupid to target sailing boats - one of the most environmentally sound forms of transport. How stupid to alienate a group of people who probably are already aware and already on board with the cause. A total backfire."

Not all reaction was negative though, with others saying the group had highlighted an important issue.

Bill Johns said: "I think it is great that some action has happened in our town, we all need to start taking climate change seriously and I think that starts with more conversations about it and starting to work together to make a real change.

"I think there is a misunderstanding of what happen out there - no one broke into a boat they just hung a flag on the outside of it. That is no different or intrusive than having something left on your front door or garden, not in your bedroom!"

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Mat Osmond agreed: "Congratulations to the 'pirate rebels' for sticking their necks out and bringing the existential threat of climate change to a wider attention - a great gesture executed with courtesy and humour."

And Rose Trevena said: "Also worth just clearing up, as I know some of those involved, they specifically targeted boats with no-one sleeping inside, and avoided boats on visitor moorings or with dinghies off the back."

The team who carried out the stunt - some of which are involved with Extinction Rebellion and others not - have now spoken more about their intentions, saying: "We would never usually trespass. We understand some people are genuinely upset about their boat being boarded without permission, and again we sincerely apologise, and hope they understand we undertook this operation with the best intentions as it is an emergency."

They said the overall response from boat owners had been positive, with some who didn't get a flag asking for one.

They stressed that the action was not aimed at boat owners, with the location chosen because coastal communities were the ones on the front line of rising sea levels.

"Why didn't we ask boat owners to fly them voluntarily? Firstly, many boat owners are simply not accessible, living up country or rarely use their boats. [And] as busy working individuals, many of us with children, this had to be a covert operation, we dont think an action like this would have been possible any other way, i.e to get 200 boat owners to voluntarily fly a pink flag on the same night," added the team, who said they considered weather conditions very carefully, with the inner harbour relatively sheltered.