Environmental organisation Greenpeace has this morning created a blockade at Volkswagen UK’s head office in Milton Keynes in protest against the German car manufacturer and its diesel emissions scandal.
Anti-pollution activists staged the stunt at around 7am on Monday, blocking around 800 employees from being able to enter the building.
A spokeswoman for the group said activists have barricaded entrances to the building and set up a mock clinic offering health advice to staff and members of the public.
A Greenpeace protest against diesel emissions outside Volkswagen´s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes
Greenpeace is demanding that the firm ends production of diesel cars and switches to only selling electric models following the brand’s emissions cheating scandal that hit headlines in September 2015.
Around 11million vehicles worldwide were affected, including 1.2million in the UK, which were found to emit higher levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) during normal driving than during official laboratory tests.
The environmental group has been increasing pressure on the brand since the revelation with a number of stunts.
Most memorable of these was a flash-mob of 100 Greenpeace representatives acting out a coughing fit at Volkswagen’s stand during the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017, followed by an attempt by 40 activists to seize a 23,000-tonne cargo ship carrying VW cars in the Thames Estuary and removing keys from vehicles stored at Sheerness port in Kent a matter of days later.
Today’s latest attempt is part of ongoing efforts to curb diesel-vehicle production, with the fuel type being blamed for the nation’s poor air pollution levels.
It’s estimated that 40,000 premature deaths occur every year in the UK because of our dirty air, which is also linked to health problems such as childhood illnesses, heart disease and dementia.
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.’
The protests has taken place despite Volkswagen’s Strategy 2025 proposal, in which it plans to sell three million electric cars by 2025.
And while Greenpeace is calling for VW to focus on electric-car production, even those have recently been found to be potentially dangerous to our health.
The staged protest has prevented around 800 Volkswagen employees from entering the building in Milton Keynes
Greenpeace is calling for the car manufacturer to cease production of diesel cars and focus on electrified models instead
Last month, it was revealed that the vehicle manufacturer and German Federal Transport Authority, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt were in discussions about the recall of 124,000 of its electric and plug-in hybrid cars after a poisonous metal was found in a competent fitted to each one.
Production of a number of electrified models from VW, Audi and Porsche was immediately halted after the high-toxic metal cadmium – which the National Cancer Institute says can increase the risk of lung cancer – was found in charger parts.
While VW stated that the metal would do no danger to owners and their passengers, dangerous chemicals could be released into the air if these vehicles were to be scrapped or recycled.
Speaking at the staged blockage on Monday, Aarash Saleh, 33, a doctor in respiratory medicine who is among a group of medical professionals at the protest, 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.’
Greenpeace ended what it called a ‘peaceful blockade’ following an agreement with VW that they would meet.
All protesters left the site without being taken into custody.
‘Volkswagen has previously refused to meet with us, so we came here today to make them listen,’ confirmed Mel Evans on Monday afternoon.
‘Because of the actions of our protestors and the thousands of supporters who joined in today by emailing Volkswagen, the company has now changed its policy worldwide and agreed to a meeting.
‘Diesel pollution is choking our towns and cities, and filling up our emergency departments.
‘We won’t stop campaigning until Volkswagen does the right thing. It must face up to its responsibility for deadly air pollution and commit to end diesel production now.’
A Volkswagen spokesman told This is Money that Paul Willis had offered Greenpeace 18 months ago the opportunity to visit the brand’s global headquarters in Wolfsburg in order to find out more about the car-maker’s future strategy – an offer it extended yet again today.
He said: ‘Volkswagen is aware of a protest at its Blakelands premises today, which has now ended peacefully.
‘The Volkswagen Group has launched the most comprehensive electrification initiative in the automotive industry with ‘Roadmap E’.
‘This will bring an additional 80 new electric vehicles to the Volkswagen Group model range by 2025.
‘Roadmap E brings a 20 billion Euro investment to electric vehicle technology with the goal of 25 per cent of Volkswagen Group vehicle production comprising electrified vehicles by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030.
‘It is the goal of Volkswagen Group to be the number one provider of sustainable mobility.’
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