Highlands & Islands

Activists who re-occupied Cromarty Firth rig are arrested

Helicpter on rig Image copyright Greenpeace
Image caption A helicopter on the platform on Friday

Greenpeace activists who re-occupied an oil rig in the Cromarty Firth just hours after police moved in to end the protest have been arrested.

A police operation on Thursday saw two men arrested on the Transocean rig, which is on contract to BP.

But two more activists later boarded the rig which was due to be towed to an oil field east of Aberdeen.

Police Scotland confirmed they had also now been arrested.

There were three other arrests among a group of protesters on the shore..

This means 14 people have been arrested since the protest began.

A police spokesman said: "Officers returned to the platform around 2pm and, after deploying specialist tactics to access the area, subsequently arrested a man and woman who had been carrying out a continued protest on the rig.

"They have since been safely returned to shore by boat."

Greenpeace first occupied the platform on Sunday evening.

Image copyright Charlie Phillips Images
Image caption A Greenpeace campaigner on the platform on Friday

BP, which has contracted the Transocean-operated rig, had served Greenpeace with a court order to prevent one of its ships, Arctic Sunrise, from joining the protest.

A BP spokesman said: "Given Greenpeace's repeated interference and reckless actions directed at our lawful business and their continued illegal defiance for court orders and police action, we have issued the injunction as a precautionary measure to protect the safety of people and operations."

On Friday afternoon a helicopter landed on the platform, while a Police Scotland helicopter circled the rig.

Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven said earlier: "Our climbers are back on the oil rig and determined to stay for as long as possible."

Image copyright Greenpeace
Image caption A Greenpeace campaigner climbing the rig on Friday

He added: "BP are heading out to drill a new well giving them access to 30 million barrels of oil - something we can't afford in the middle of a climate emergency.

"We can't give up and let oil giants carry on with business as usual because that means giving up on a habitable planet and our kids' future. The UK government has announced a target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 - we have started to enforce it."

A helicopter and boats were used by police to try to end the occupation in the firth off Invergordon on Thursday after the rig's owner Transocean obtained an interdict to remove the activists.

Image caption Greenpeace said the interdict was served to prevent its ship the Arctic Sunrise from joining the protest

Police Scotland said it assembled a specialist team of officers from across the country to carry out the "extremely complex and challenging operation".

Greenpeace said officers in climbing gear removed a protest banner, while the rig itself was lowered into the water to allow two police boats to access the gantry where the activists were camped out.

Two men, aged 40 and 50, were arrested.

Image copyright Charlie Phillips Images
Image caption The platform was bound for an oil field east of Aberdeen

Responding to the developments earlier on Friday, BP said the occupation was "reckless" and that it was working with Transocean and Police Scotland to bring it to a safe conclusion.

A spokesperson said: "BP supports debate, discussion and peaceful demonstration, but the irresponsible actions of this group are putting themselves and others unnecessarily at risk, while ignoring court orders and police action."

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