Environmental protesters have climbed on to a ship at a Kent port transporting diesel cars from Germany.Greenpeace said campaigners had boarded the ship at Sheerness in Kent and were preventing the unloading of the cars.The group said it would not leave the ship until Volkswagen agreed to return the cars to Germany. Volkswagen said they were aware of the protest.More than 40 people are “attempting to immobilise all the VW diesel cars by removing their keys”, Greenpeace said.
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Kent Police said it had received reports of a “peaceful protest” at the Port of Sheerness at 08:52 BST and officers were at the scene.Greenpeace said 25 volunteers had boarded the 23,000-tonne ship in the Thames Estuary and were now hanging from the 27m-high unloading doors. The Greenpeace spokesman added: “Simultaneously, 41 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 diesel cars are awaiting distribution to suppliers.”In a statement, a Volkswagen spokesman said: “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.”A spokeswoman for Peel Ports, which owns the Port of Sheerness, said, “We can confirm that Greenpeace protesters have illegally entered secure areas of the Port of Sheerness. These areas are restricted to ensure that UK border security is preserved.”We are working with the police, Greenpeace and Volkswagen to resolve the situation.”
The Elbe Highway has since moved from the Sheerness area and is now anchored off Margate. In September 2015 VW admitted to US regulators it had cheated on emissions tests there using software installed in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide – the majority of them in Europe.In March the company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction of justice and entry of goods by false statement as part of a $4.3bn (£3.5bn) agreement with the US regulators over the scandal.