A MIDDLE-aged woman has gone on hunger strike in the centre of Taunton in protest at what we're doing to the planet.

Penny Holmes, 55, who lives in west Taunton, has not eaten since Sunday lunchtime just days after being hauled in front of a court for a public order offence.

Penny, who is already feeling weak after the third day without food, says her "fast" will last for a week.

"I don't call it a hunger strike - it's a fast. I'm not going to kill myself," she said.

"I'm not eating to raise awareness. We're in trouble in terms of food around the world because we've done so much damage to the climate and the ecological systems.

"The production of food is in danger. We've got a highly unstable system. When production fails elsewhere, we've only got two days' worth of food in the shops.

"We need to start thinking now urgently about preventing an ecological catastrophe."

Penny, a member of Taunton Extinction Rebellion, has been holding a peaceful protest in the town's Fore Street this week to pass on her message.

She said: "The first day I was completely ignored, but some people have stopped to talk since then.

"But we've got to start paying attention.

"I haven't used the washers on my windscreen this year as there are no insects on it.

"When I was a child, people would drive through clouds because there were so many insects.

"There's been a 75 per cent reduction in the number of insects over the last 27 years. We've known about this for years.

"That's horrendous. If we kill the insects, all the vertebrates will go first - and we're vertebrates."

Penny's self-imposed ban on food has left her feeling "weak and wobbly".

She added: "My mouth is really strange. I got my husband to drive me because of how I feel.

"I prepared for this. Last week I spent 60 hours in custody and a night on the street hardly eating.

"I'm past the stage of feeling hungry."

Penny was up in court in Westminster last week for sitting down and refusing to move as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest.

She was fined £106 and bound over to keep the peace for six months.

Her protest is supported by husband Chris, although he has not given up food.

He said: "I'm eating normally but discreetly.

"I've got tremendous admiration for Penny for bringing to everyone's attention such an important issue.

"I was tempted to join in, but I'm not able to due to certain things such as work. But I need to be here to support her.

Friend and fellow Taunton Extinction Rebellion member Lorna Brown, who is supporting Penney's protest, said: "I admire her. She's amazing and, a shining example to us all."