Eight arrests in Edinburgh climate protests

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Protesters on a roof top in Leith
Image caption,
Protesters climbed onto the roof on the Forth Energy offices in Leith

Police in Edinburgh have arrested eight people after a series of protests by climate change activists.

Five people were arrested at the Port of Leith, with three arrests in Nicolson Street.

It comes after police promised a "robust" response following five days of protests outside the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Activists are angry at the bank's investment in oil industry developments around the world.

As many as 500 people stayed overnight at the Camp for Climate Action at Gogarburn, with further protests taking place at different locations around Edinburgh.

It is understood that seven activists have glued themselves to each other in the executive car park of the RBS Younger building at the Gyle.

In Leith, six climate change activists were staging a protest at the offices of Forth Energy. It is believed that three climbed onto the roof of the building while more were protesting in the reception area.

Lothian and Borders Police also said that protesters appeared to have spread an oil-like substance over roads on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Image caption,
Police surround the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland

A spokeswoman said the oil, possibly diesel or vegetable oil, had been spilled onto the A720 at Bankhead and the westbound lane of the A8.

The roads have now been cleaned and traffic is moving as normal in the area.

Police described it as "an extremely reckless and dangerous act which could put many members of the public at risk".

Many staff at the Royal Bank of Scotland were encouraged to stay at home on Monday after two protesters were arrested on Sunday when activists smashed windows and threw an oil-like substance at the bank's Gogarburn building.

Speaking to Radio Scotland, Supt Lesley Clark of Lothian and Borders Police said the operation was now in its "reactive phase."

She warned that the rules of engagement had now changed.

'Respect our city'

She said: "What we were hoping to achieve is to continue to work with the protesters and allow them to protest.

"However, the rules of engagement have now changed and we need to think about a more robust policing response, which we always did envisage maybe being the case and that was communicated early on.

"Work with us, respect our city and we will give you as much support as we can. However, you failed to do that yesterday and changed the rules."

The activists claim the bank, which is 84%-owned by the taxpayer, is financing developments which could be dangerous for the environment.

Renewable energy

One campaigner who took part in Sunday's protest, Shaun Caulfield, said: "RBS is one of the biggest climate criminals in the UK.

"People are angry that bankers are ploughing the billions that they got in the bail out into incredibly destructive fossil fuel projects around the world."

RBS said it had been one of the most active banks in the world in providing funding for renewable energy projects in recent years.

"Therefore, while we understand the protesters' intent and publicity tactics, we clearly cannot agree with their decision to target RBS," said a spokesman.

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