G20 activists invited north to target Royal Bank AGM in Edinburgh today

EDINBURGH has been put on a security alert after fears that G20 protesters were heading to Scotland's capital.

Environmental protesters and anarchists were expected in town to target the Royal Bank of Scotland's annual general meeting today.

People & Planet, one of the groups involved in the mass protests in London, has handed out invitations to protesters to join them in Edinburgh today, as well as at demonstrations against the bank in London and Aberdeen.

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It has also posted an invitation on the front page of its website to "come and take action".

Although People & Planet is regarded as a peaceful student group, there were concerns the invitation may be taken up by more violent demonstrators who started riots in London this week.

One of the more high-profile targets of the attacks was RBS's London headquarters.

Appeals went out from the Scottish Government and from People & Planet yesterday for protesters to act in a peaceful and responsible way.

A spokesman for the justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said: "Everyone has the right to protest. We would expect anyone taking part in this, and any other protest, to act peacefully and within the law at all times.

"In light of recent events (in London], we would hope that protests would be peaceful and that any requests made by police would be complied with."

RBS would not comment on security arrangements for the venue for the AGM, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, but said security had been heightened in light of events earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that they would have officers on stand-by and would decide how many to deploy depending on how many protesters turned up today.

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A police spokesman said: "We are working closely with RBS and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, who will both be providing a security detail for the event.

"Officers will be present on the day to ensure the safe and peaceful passage of any protests that take place."

People & Planet organisers have said they expect only up to 70 of their members at the demonstration. However, they do not know how many others will turn up.

Ben Miller, an Edinburgh University student currently working for the Green Party, who is one of People & Planet's chief organisers in Scotland, described the rioters as "hooligans".

"We don't want people like that here, they only distract from the points we are trying to make," he said. "Essentially, they are people looking for a fight."

Mr Miller led a 40-strong demonstration against RBS last year and said this year's actions would focus on the way the bank was still supporting "environmentally damaging" projects, even though it had effectively been nationalised.

He claimed that 10 billion of the 30 billion received from the government had gone to fund oil and gas projects.

"Basically, RBS is the most damaging bank for the environment in UK and Europe," Mr Miller said.

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"The double whammy is that they are now using taxpayers' money to do this. Remember, the Royal Bank is now more than 70 per cent owned by the government. We want the government to make the bank invest in environmentally friendly projects."

The protesters will ask the UK government to follow a call made in an early day motion in Westminster by Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham.

He called for ministers to apply environmental and climate change regulation to the bank's lending decisions.