o-3Greenpeace is staging a protest outside Volkswagen’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes.

The group are demanding to speak with the firm’s UK boss Paul Willis, about the effects of diesel emissions on public health.

The protest involves a makeshift clinic highlighting the dangers of diesel emissions on the human body, particularly those caused by nitrogen oxides (NOx). Greenpeace have targeted VW, due to the German carmaker’s position as the biggest seller of diesel-fuelled vehicles in the UK.

A Volkswagen spokesman said: “Paul Willis offered Greenpeace 18 months ago the opportunity to visit Wolfsburg in order to find out more about our future strategy. The letter has not been answered.”

Rosie Rogers, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Today’s protest has taken a few months to plan. We are still waiting to hear if Paul Willis will come down to meet us today. We’re targeting Volkswagen because it is the biggest producer of diesel cars and puts 1 in 5 diesel cars on UK roads.

“If Volkswagen quit diesel, it would have a big impact on the air our kids breathe. And it would wave an enormous red flag to the entire industry that it’s time to stop diesel car production in its tracks. On top of this, Volkswagen owes angry consumers a real debt because of Dieselgate.”

When asked if Greenpeace is planning any protests at non-automotive pollution sources, Rogers said: “There aren’t any plans for this at the moment, as air pollution that is harming people’s health in towns and cities is predominantly caused by diesel vehicles.

“Today, we’re hoping to get some face time with Paul Willis and speak to Volkswagen employees about the harm Volkswagen’s diesel plans will cause. But ultimately, we want Volkswagen to commit to end production of diesel cars and set a trajectory for 100% electric vehicles.”

Volkswagen issued the following statement: “Volkswagen is aware of a protest at its Blakelands premises this morning. The safety of our employees is our principal concern and so the matter is now being handled by the police.

“The Volkswagen Group has launched the most comprehensive electrification initiative in the automotive industry with Roadmap E.  This will bring an additional 80 new electric vehicles to the Volkswagen Group model range by 2025. Roadmap E brings a €20 billion investment to electric vehicle technology with the goal of 25% of Volkswagen Group vehicle production comprising electrified vehicles by 2025 and 50% by 2030.”

VW has agreed to meet with Greenpeace to discuss diesels following the protest.

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