RBS HQ targeted in climate change action day

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Climate change protesters began a day of "mass action" today by targeting the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) headquarters and climbing on to the roof of another office.

The activists descended on the RBS executive car park and the offices of Forth Energy in Leith, Edinburgh.

They were also outside the headquarters of Cairn Energy in the capital's financial district.

Climate Camp activists set up outside the RBS main headquarters in Edinburgh last week to protest at their funding of fossil fuel companies.

A Climate Camp spokesman said today that seven activists had superglued themselves to the car park of the RBS industrial estate at the Gyle Shopping Centre in Edinburgh.

Another group of seven activists climbed Forth Energy's building. Two scaled the roof and hung banners reading "Bio mass health hazard" and "Bio mass

climate change".

At one point, according to the Climate Camp group, three were inside and two chained themselves to the front of the building.

Activists said they had also created an "oil slick", using molasses, outside Cairn Energy's offices in Lothian Road.

Their actions, part of a day-long series of "unexpected events" around the Scottish capital, are designed to disrupt the activities of those organisations whose activities they oppose.

Cairn Energy explores, develops and produces oil and gas assets globally.

Forth Energy is a "strategic venture company" formed by Scottish and Southern Energy and Forth Ports plc to develop renewable energy around Forth Ports' sites in Scotland and England.

Scottish and Southern Energy is the UK's largest renewable energy generator and Forth Ports plc owns and operates seven commercial ports.

Activists said they were targeting Forth Energy because of their plans to build four "environmentally destructive" biomass - wood-burning - energy power stations in Scotland.

Climate Camp spokeswoman Maryla Hart said: "Biomass is exacerbating climate change, destroying precious forests and pulling money away from real, sustainable solutions, like energy efficiency measures, wind, solar and tidal power.

"Forth Energy can expect growing opposition until they scrap the idea of biomass altogether."

Many RBS staff were advised to work from home today amid fears that the climate activists would target its headquarters in the west of the city.

Climate Camp members have accused RBS of using taxpayers' money to prop up fossil fuel companies which they say are destroying the planet.

RBS is almost wholly owned by the Government, which has an 84% stake.

It is understood there were two arrests when more than 100 demonstrators dressed in white biohazard suits breached police lines at the Gogarburn HQ at about 5pm yesterday.

Considerable damage was said to have been done to the building, with several windows smashed.

On Friday, a woman was arrested after entering the office and gluing herself to a desk.

RBS said some staff would work away from the HQ today as a "sensible security measure".

Lothian and Borders Police condemned the actions of activists who poured an oily substance on to two of Edinburgh's main arterial roads.

Police said a substance similar to diesel or vegetable oil was poured on to the carriageways on the Edinburgh City bypass - the A720 at Bankhead - and the westbound A8.

A police spokesman said: "This is an extremely reckless and dangerous act which could put many members of the public at risk.

"It is a worrying trend and disturbing escalation in the activities of the protesters.

"While the force facilitates peaceful protest, public disorder, damage to property or any other criminal acts will not be tolerated.

"It is obvious that the activists have changed their emphasis and we have considerable resources in place to respond in a proportionate and responsible manner.

"A significant amount of planning had been put in place for the Climate Camp so that the force was prepared for every eventuality and additional resources were sent to the RBS site today to support the policing operation there."

Council workers have cleaned the affected roads and traffic is moving again. Police said protesters also unfurled a banner over the A8 and glued themselves together.

They also confirmed that seven protesters glued themselves to each other at the Port of Leith, with another seven doing the same at the Drummond House RBS premises near the Gyle Shopping Centre.

A Clydesdale Bank branch in Lothian Road was also spray painted by activists.

A police spokesman said activists had not gained access to any RBS premises and there had been no reports of injuries.

A woman who was arrested on Friday following an incident at RBS HQ will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.

Three other people, two women and a man, who were arrested yesterday have been released.

The two women were detained following activity at the RBS building at Gogarburn on Sunday afternoon and the man was detained as a result of an incident on the bridge.

Activists said they glued themselves to each other at the RBS Nicholson Street branch in the city centre in protest at the bank's investments in oil tar sands.

They said they were joined by performers angry at RBS' sponsorship of the Edinburgh Fringe.

One participant, Jenny South, said: "Climate change kills 400,000 people every year. RBS invests in oil from Canadian tar sands - the most climate-busting fuel on the planet, and one which is devastating local indigenous communities.

"We are standing together with those communities to resist this 21st century atrocity, to make a passionate call for climate justice and to hasten a much-needed fossil fuel-free future."

Lothian and Borders Police later said they had arrested eight people in connection with protest activity in Edinburgh today.

Five people were held at the Port of Leith, and three in Nicolson Street.