Greenpeace activists block shipment of thousands of polluting VW motors
A CARGO ship carrying thousands of Volkswagen diesel-fuelled cars to Britain was forced to sail to another port yesterday after it was seized by environmental activists.
Around 25 protesters used kayaks and boats to reach the 23,000-ton car carrier in Sheerness Port in Kent at around 8.30am, environmental group Greenpeace said.
They climbed the ship and hung from the 27m-high unloading door, vowing to remain until Volkswagen “takes its toxic cars back to Germany.”
The ship turned around and sailed to Margate with the protesters still hanging on, according to the charity.
It was revealed in 2015 that Volkswagen had deliberately set its diesel cars to cheat emissions tests while in the lab, keeping pollution to its stated limits, but then spewing out up to 40 times as much filth during real-world driving.
It affected 1.2 million cars in Britain and 11m worldwide. Independent tests on the new VW Golf show its nitrous oxides levels (NOx) are twice the legal limit. NOx is known to cause serious health damage.
More than 40 activists also scaled fences at Sheerness port and gained access to the vehicle park, where thousands more Volkswagen cars are awaiting distribution to suppliers.
They removed diesel vehicles’ keys and placed stickers on the engines telling VW to “ditch diesel.”
Activist Janet Barker, a support worker from Powys, 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.”
Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in Britain and is linked to health problems from childhood illnesses to heart disease and even dementia.
A testing programme last year found that modern diesel cars emit six times more NOx in the real world than in lab tests.
Since September 1 new car models have been required to pass a tougher testing regime.
Government policy has promoted diesels for several years, under the belief that they contribute less to climate change as they emit less carbon dioxide in exhaust fumes.
But a new report from the European Federation for Transport and Environment shows that in fact a diesel vehicle emits several tonnes more carbon than an equivalent car running on petrol when its entire impact is calculated.
Activist law firm ClientEarth clean-air specialist Anna Heslop said: “It’s time to accept that diesel cars are not the environmentally friendly solution drivers have been assured they were.
“This report indicates that diesels are not only a disaster for public health, but are not helping us hit our climate targets either.
“Two years on from the [VW] Dieselgate scandal, we’ve still seen no meaningful action from the government in Britain.
“We should be seeing vehicles which cheat emissions standards fixed, consistent ‘clean car’ labelling based on realworld emissions — and all of this overseen by independent regulators with the clout to enforce the laws to protect our health.”