Greenpeace volunteers in kayaks and boats have boarded K Line’s 23,498-tonne Elbe Highway car carrier on its major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK.
The clean air campaigners drew up alongside the huge car carrier in the Thames Estuary around 8.30 am this morning and are now hanging from the 27-metre-high unloading door, demanding that Volkswagen (VW) commits to taking its “toxic cars” back to Germany before they disembark.
Over 40 volunteers have scaled the fences at Sheerness port in Kent – the intended destination of the ship – and gained access to the vehicle park, where several thousand VW cars are awaiting distribution to suppliers.
The volunteers are attempting to immobilize all of the VW diesel cars by removing the keys.
Volunteers gain access to the vehicle park at Sheerness port in Kent after scaling fences. They are attempting to immobilize all of the VW diesel cars. Image credit: Greenpeace
They are also lifting the bonnets and labelling the engines with messages from 8,000 people, including many car owners, calling on VW to ditch diesel.
Campaigners have hung a 50-square metre banner on the ship’s unloading ramp showing the face of a two-year-old girl covered by an air pollution mask.
The German car giant imports tens of thousands of vehicles through Sheerness, one of Britain’s largest car ports, every year.
Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caught VW cheating on emissions tests.
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) September 21, 2017
Independent testing commissioned by Greenpeace has shown that one of the company’s most iconic diesel cars, the VW Golf, emits over two times more toxic pollutants than the manufacturers’ tests when driven on a busy urban road.
Janet Barker, 38, a support worker, from Powys, Wales, and one of the volunteers taking action, 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.”