GREENPEACE protesters who donned polar bear costumes before shutting down an Edinburgh petrol station have been fined £1500 for their 12-hour occupation – and had their outfits confiscated.
Seven campaigners had laid siege to the Dalry Road Shell garage in July by chaining themselves to petrol pumps, clambering on to the roof and switching off fuel supplies.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday how the protest – masterminded by Simon Hackin, 47, of Niddry Street – was in response to Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic, which Greenpeace said would be an environmental disaster.
The seven protesters pleaded guilty to malicious mischief and were each fined £200, as well as being forced to surrender their polar bear garb.
Along with Hackin, the protesters were John Wright, 57, of Belfast, Paul Hutchinson, 63, of York, Amy Rutland, 22, of Liverpool, Dominic Joyce, 22, of Southwell, Steven Smith, 39, of London, and Rowan Burrough, 43, of Abergwyngregyn, Wales.
Sheriff Isabella McColl also ordered Hackin to pay Shell £300 compensation.
Prosecuting, Malcolm Stewart told the court that the protest, which began at 6.45am on July 16, was one of three Scottish garages targeted by Greenpeace alongside 50 across the greater London area.
He said: “The member of staff working in the garage shop noticed that there was a man within the shop who was wearing a Greenpeace jacket.
“The man told the member of staff that they were here to close the petrol station down.
“Members of a Greenpeace group then prevented motorists from entering the forecourt. Some of the group used ladders to climb up on to the top of the garage roof. Once they reached the top of the roof, they engaged the fireman’s switch and turned off the petrol supply. They then erected a small tent.
“Meanwhile, protesters wearing polar bear costumes used bicycle locks to attach themselves to petrol pumps.”
He added: “The forecourt was then cordoned off by means of a banner which read ‘Save the Arctic’. Another banner read ‘Greenpeace’.”
Defence solicitor Jim Brady asked Sheriff McColl to treat his clients leniently.
He said that the protesters wanted to highlight Shell’s plans to the general public.
He added: “It is quite an effective means of bringing the matter to the public’s attention. It is their view that the public need to know more about these plans. There is a real danger that Shell’s scheme could cause an environmental disaster.
“If there was a spill in the region during winter, Shell would be unable to do anything for at least six months.
“During that time, the oil could travel thousands of miles and create unprecedented problems for our environment.
“Mr Smith works in the health service. He informs me that he could lose his job as a consequence of this conviction, but he says the fear of losing his job pales into insignificance in comparison to what would happen to society if there were an oil leak in this region.”
Passing sentence, Sheriff McColl added: “I recognise that this was a political protest, but you broke the law and caused a great deal of inconvenience to people.”