Greenpeace activists boarded a ship on its way to Britain on Thursday in an attempt to stop a consignment of Volkswagen diesel cars being imported from Germany whilst others sought to immobilise vehicles at a port in a protest against emission levels.
VW admitted faking diesel emissions tests in 2015, triggering political and consumer pressure which has seen diesel cars sales slump in major markets and politicians around the world announce plans to ban the sale of conventional vehicles.
Greenpeace said its volunteers had used kayaks and boats to board the ship in the Thames Estuary in a bid to stop the vessel unloading at the southeastern port of Sheerness in Kent.
Others broke into a vehicle park at Sheerness where they were sticking labels on engines and attempting to immobilize cars by taking the keys, the environmental pressure group said.
Kent police said officers were at the scene.
Britain aims to ban the sale of diesel vehicles from 2040 as part of plans to improve air quality but activists said the measures needed to be implemented now.
“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,” said 38-year old Janet Barker, who took part in the protest, in a statement.
“The government says we need to wait another 23 years for dirty diesels to be banned. We can’t wait that long,” she added.
Volkswagen did not offer an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.