Cold beats climate change protest
Greenpeace switched its attention to the Atlantic frontier off Shetland yesterday after four activists were arrested at the end of their three day occupation of a Scottish oil company's drilling rig off Greenland.
• The Greenpeace campaigners were arrested at the end of their three-day protest on Cairn Energy's Sten Don rig, and are being held in Greenland Picture: Greenpeace/PA
The environmental pressure group said freezing conditions and strong winds forced campaigners on board the Stena Don rig to abandon their protest action against the drilling plans of Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy.
The four men - from the United States, Finland, Poland and Germany - face preliminary charges of violating a 500 metre security perimeter around the Stena Don and trespassing by climbing onto the installation.
But yesterday, within minutes of the occupation ending, Greenpeace announced their lawyers were planning to take legal action against the British government over deep sea drilling in UK waters.
The environmental group also revealed it had delivered a formal "letter before action" to the government, which accuses ministers of granting licenses for new deep sea drilling before the causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the US have been properly established.
A spokesman said: "Today's news will alarm the oil industry due to Greenpeace's strong record in similar campaigns - on nuclear power and the third runway at Heathrow - where a combination of high-profile direct action and robust legal challenges have led to significant delays or even cancellations for the companies involved."
He added: "Greenpeace is calling on the UK to follow president Barack Obama's lead and introduce a moratorium on deep sea drilling. In the legal letter, Greenpeace asks the government for an undertaking that it will stop the UK licensing process for new offshore drilling and consult fully on the scope of a new, full environmental assessment in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster."
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "It is our view that for the government to carry on licensing for new offshore drilling without a new environmental assessment is in breach of European and UK environmental law, and is irrational."
Mr Sauven also praised the action of the four protesters, who spent three days in tents suspended from ropes attached to the underside of the oilrig.
He said: "Our climbers have stopped this rig from drilling in the fragile Arctic for two days, and this is just the start of a long campaign.
"The Gulf of Mexico disaster was a game changer, so ministers should suspend new deep-water licenses and companies like Cairn Energy must stop dangerous drilling in the Arctic and start investing in clean alternatives instead."
A Danish police spokesman said the protesters were being held in Greenland.
A spokesman for Cairn Energy said: "Cairn can confirm that operations have started again on the Stena Don, where safety remains Cairn's priority in this drilling exploration activity.
"The actions taken by Greenpeace remain a matter for the Greenlandic authorities."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east