Greenpeace under attack by Prescott

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The fragile relationship between the Green lobby and the new government has deteriorated, with the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, attacking Greenpeace. He said the protest group's campaign to stop exploration and production in new offshore oilfields north-west of Scotland was a non- starter.

"If the UK stopped any development of the Atlantic oilfields, the demand for oil would be met from production elsewhere in the world," he told an oil industry conference in Durham. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has made just the same point to Greenpeace in private. Yet stopping exploration and production in the deep waters of what is known as the Atlantic Frontier is Greenpeace UK's biggest current campaign.

It argues that leaving new oil fields unexploited beneath the seabed is essential to protecting against global warming. Next week an initial judgement is expected in a High Court case in which Greenpeace has been challenging the Government's decision to allow exploitation to go ahead.