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Greenpeace activists seize thousands of VW cars at Sheerness docks

PUBLISHED: 09:57 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:51 22 September 2017

Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.

Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.

© Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

Two protesters have stayed at the port overnight

Volunteers gain access to the vehicle park at Sheerness port in Kent after scaling fences. They are attempting to immobilise all of the VW diesel cars.Volunteers gain access to the vehicle park at Sheerness port in Kent after scaling fences. They are attempting to immobilise all of the VW diesel cars.

Police are still patrolling Sheerness docks 24-hours after protesters stormed the port, blocking a 23,498 cargo ship from unloading an import of VW vehicles.

Two Greenpeace members spent the night on lighting gantries at the dock’s import park, after 40 protesters had clambered into it on Thursday morning, in a protest over diesel vehicles.

Once inside the car park, campaigners took the keys of thousands of diesel cars which were set to be distributed across the country.

Other protesters took to the water in kayaks and boats to board the cargo ship, where they then hung from its 27metre-high unloading door, stopping it from arriving at the port.

Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.

The ship is thought to currently be moored off Margate.

Three people arrested during yesterday’s protest have been bailed until October 19, two on suspicion of entering a vessel and the other for aggravated trespass.

It is thought the majority of the vehicles set for delivery run on petrol, with 37 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles also on board.

Drawing up alongside the car-carrier in the Thames Estuary at around 8.30am on Thursday, protesters are now hanging from the ship’s 27-metre-high unloading door.

Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats board a 23,498-tonne ship on a major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK. The clean air campaigners draw up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary.

The environmental protesters say they “won’t disembark until VW commits to take its toxic cars back to Germany”.

The German car giant, which it was revealed had cheated on emissions tests in 2015, imports tens of thousands of vehicles through Sheerness, one of Britain’s largest car ports, every year.

Areeba Hamid, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Two of our climbers have been arrested after blocking this VW toxic cargo for hours, but another team are still immobilising thousands of VW diesels at the port. Our volunteers have stepped in and put their freedom on the line to do what our government and regulators have failed to do – protect our health from toxic pollution.

“We will keep putting pressure on VW until it takes responsibility for its role in our air pollution crisis and ditches dirty diesel for good.”

Campaigners have hung a 50sq/m banner on the ship’s unloading ramp showing the face of a two-year-old girl covered by an air pollution mask.

A spokesperson from Peel Port, which runs the site, said: “We can confirm that Greenpeace protesters have illegally entered secure areas of the Port of Sheerness. These areas are restricted to ensure that UK border security is preserved and we protect the safety of our customers and employees working on the Port. We are working with the police, Greenpeace and Volkswagen to resolve the situation. The safety of the protesters and employees, whilst safeguarding the marine environment, remains our principal priority.”

In a statement, VW said: ““We are aware of a protest on Thursday morning at the Sheerness port in Kent.

“The ship contains a variety of Volkswagen Group vehicles, including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models. The diesel vehicles, which are the subject of the protest, meet strict Euro-6 standards.”

1 comment

  • They have a go about the cars and these days, they are fittted with catalytic converters which make them cleaner than most petrol cars being sold without them fitted. Not one single protest about the ships themselves that blow out clouds of black smoke from their engines. Stand at a dockside and watch a ship start up it's engines, there is more thick, black smoke in a few seconds than all the cars in town could produce in a week. Diesel is more economical so it burns less fuel to do the same amount of mileage compared to a petrol vehicle, therefore uses less fossil fuels for the same journey. It is also far easier to refine so it uses less power at the refinery. It is also less combustible than petrol and burns less fiercely so therefore, it is safer in the event of a spill. Given that diesel cars are now ALL fitted with catalytic converters where only around 30% of petrol cars are fitted with them, diesel cars are now cleaner to run than most petrol cars. There are so many more benefits to diesel over petrol but I guess the facts shouldn't get in the way of a good rant. Well done Greenpeace for not doing your homework and just listening to government lies again.

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    Dave Sanders

    Saturday, September 23, 2017

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