ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners blockaded Volkswagen's headquarters in Britain today to highlight diesel emissions causing “horrendous suffering” across the country.
Greenpeace activists and medical professionals barricaded entrances to the car manufacturer’s office in Milton Keynes from around 7am and set up a mock clinic offering health advice to staff.
More than 800 Volkswagen workers at the site, including those employed in roles such as marketing and distribution, were prevented from entering, the organisation said.
In September 2015, Volkswagen was found to have cheated in air pollution tests for 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, including 1.2m in Britain.
The scandal has led to growing concerns over nitrogen oxide emissions and Greenpeace is demanding that the firm commits to stopping the production of diesel cars and switching to electric models.
Greenpeace clean air campaigner Mel Evans said: “As the UK’s biggest seller of diesel cars, Volkswagen is complicit in an air pollution crisis that's filling up emergency departments and GP surgeries.
“Volkswagen sold us a lie about diesel being clean. Its diesel addiction is seriously harming people’s health. Volkswagen won’t meet with us and won’t listen. So today we’ve brought the truth about diesel to its doorstep.
“Volkswagen must face up to its responsibility for deadly air pollution and commit to end diesel production now.”
Dr Aarash Saleh, a specialist in respiratory medicine, was among a group of medical professionals at the protest.
He said: “Diesel pollution is causing horrendous suffering across the UK and storing up a lifetime of troubled health for our kids.
“If you could see it, diesel would be banned tomorrow.”
An estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in Britain are caused by air pollution, which is linked to health problems such as childhood illnesses, heart disease and dementia.
A Volkswagen UK spokesman said: “Volkswagen is aware of a protest at its Blakelands premises this morning. The safety of our employees is our principal concern and so the matter is now being handled by the police.”
The group will add another 80 electric vehicles to its model range by 2025, it said.
Last September, Greenpeace activists prevented a cargo ship carrying cars, including Volkswagen diesel models, from reaching the port of Sheerness in Kent.
Activists used boats to climb on board and hang from its 89ft-high unloading door.
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