Greenpeace activists are trying to block deliveries of Volkswagen Group diesel cars destined to dealerships and fleets in the September plate-change campaign.
Members of the environmental action group have attempted to board a ship bringing vehicles to the UK, while others are demonstrating on the shore. Around 40 others have invaded a storage and PDI compound at Sheerness port, where the ship is due to dock, and have attempted to lift the bonnets of cars there to label engines with anti-diesel messages.
Greenpeace claimed around 90 activists are involved in total. It has been broadcasting its protest live on social media.
One, professor Jonathan Grigg, an expert on the impacts of air pollution on children’s health and the founder of Doctors Against Diesel group, said: “We know that air pollution and diesel emissions can greatly impact children, from childhood lung development to asthma. Drastically reducing diesel emissions would immediately reduce children’s exposure and improve their long-term health.”
Greenpeace protester Janet Barker said: “Diesel cars are toxic – so we’re here to block VW imports on behalf of all of the children who are the most acutely affected by the health impacts of diesel fumes. VW’s polluting vehicles are adding to a public health emergency harming thousands of people.
“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.”
Greenpeace pointed out that it is two years since Volkswagen Group was embroiled in its emissions test cheating scandal.
Volkswagen Group UK took several hours to respond to a request for a comment, and eventually stated: “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 standards.”
Despite Greenpeace's activity on social media, and extensive news coverage of the action, Volkswagen Group's own social media channels, including those of its brands Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen, appear to have ignored the incident.