© Kristian Buus / Greenpeace
Environmental campaigners from Greenpeace have boarded a cargo ship bringing Volkswagen cars to the UK in an attempt to disrupt their delivery.
The ship Elbe Highway, arriving from Germany carrying numerous Volkswagens, was boarded by protestors attempting to gain access to the cars aboard and remove their keys, the BBC has reported.
The aim of the protesters was to force Volkswagen to return the cars to Germany, although the ship is now heading from Sheerness to Margate.
Police are attempting to dispel the situation, which first came to their attention just before 9 o'clock this morning. Volkswagen has issued the following statement: “We are aware of a protest this 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 emissions standards.”
Greenpeace said: "Campaigners have hung a 50m2 banner on the ship's unloading ramp showing the face of a two-year-old girl covered by an air pollution mask. Sephie, who has respiratory problems, represents all children affected by air pollution. Pennant banners emblazoned with Sephie’s portrait have also been hoisted on gantries surrounding the vast car park."
"The ship has turned around and is heading in the direction of Margate. We are in negotiation with the ship company about sending the ship and its cargo back to Germany. Forty activists have placed labels on the engines of thousands of diesel cars. They have now left the site voluntarily but two activists remain up one of the lighting gantries and are holding the keys that match those cars. They will stay there until the ship has returned."
One of the protesters said: “The Government says we need to wait another 23 years for dirty diesels to be banned. We can’t wait that long. So we’re stepping in and seizing all of VW's diesel cars to stop them harming people’s health and the environment. We’re not leaving until VW takes its toxic cars back to Germany. As Europe’s largest car maker, VW needs to wake up, smell the emissions and go fully electric.”
Since the Dieselgate scandal broke, Volkswagen has committed itself to an electric future, investing £7.5 billion into developing more than 30 battery-powered models by 2025.