Greenpeace activists seize thousands of VW cars at Sheerness docks
PUBLISHED: 09:57 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:51 22 September 2017
© Kristian Buus / Greenpeace
Two protesters have stayed at the port overnight
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.
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.
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.”