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Greenpeace polar bear protestors who closed down petrol station fined

The seven protestors, some dressed as polar bears, seized control of a Shell garage in Edinburgh in July.

Greenpeace protest at Shell Dalry Road.

A group of environmentalists who closed down a petrol station as they protested wearing polar bear costumes have been fined.

The seven protestors were arrested after they seized control of a Shell garage in Dalry Road, Edinburgh, in July 2011.

On Friday, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how some members of the Greenpeace group wore animal costumes whilst chaining themselves to petrol pumps. Others climbed onto the garage roof and turned off fuel supplies during the 12 hour long occupation.

Sheriff Isabella McColl heard how the protestors targeted Shell over the firm's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. Greenpeace say the Dutch company's proposals could cause huge environmental problems.

Sheriff McColl fined the seven protestors £200 each and allowed prosecution lawyers to confiscate three polar bear costumes which were used in the protests.

Those fined were John Wright, 57, from Belfast, Paul Hutchinson, 63, from York, Simon Hackin, 47, from Edinburgh, Amy Rutland, 22, from Liverpool, Dominic Joyce, 22, from Southwell, Steven Smith, 39, from London and Rowan Burrough, 43, from Abergwyngregyn, Wales.

Sheriff McColl also ordered Mr Hackin, who organised the protest, to pay the garage operators £300, the amount they lost as a consequence of the occupation.

The protestors pleaded guilty to a charge of committing malicious mischief.

Another man, Anthony Greaves, 51, from London, was acquitted after the court accepted his not guilty plea.

Prosecution lawyer Malcolm Stewart told the court the protest began at 6.45am on the morning of July 16, 2012. Greenpeace targeted three Scottish stations and a further 50 in the greater London area.

Mr Stewart added: "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. The member of staff was told that it was because of global warming and of an ecological imbalance.

"Members of a Greenpeace group then prevented motorists from entering the forecourt. Some of the group used ladders to climb up onto 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, protestors wearing polar bear costumes used bicycle locks to attach themselves to petrol pumps. The accused Wright attached himself to pump number one. Miss Rutland attached herself to pump number three whilst Mr Burrough attached himself to pump number seven.

"The forecourt was then cordoned off by means of a banner which read 'Save the Arctic'. Another banner read 'Greenpeace'."

Mr Stewart said police officers managed to bring the protest to an end after 6pm.

Investigations made by the Crown also revealed the garage lost £300 as a consequence of the protest.

Defence solicitor Jim Brady asked Sheriff McColl to treat his clients leniently. He said the seven protestors closed the garage down because they wanted to highlight Shell's plans to the general public.

Mr Brady 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 the winter months, Shell would be unable to do anything for at least six months. During that time, the oil could travel hundreds if not thousands of miles and create unprecedented problems for our environment.

"It is for these reasons that my clients took this action.

"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."

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