Environmental campaigners Greenpeace used a life-sized polar bear to kick off the first day of what they say will be a “summer of protest” against Edinburgh based oil firm Cairn Energy.
Activists gathered outside Cairn’s HQ on the Capital’s busy Lothian Road on Wednesday to try and block the entrance to their offices in the financial district of the city in time for staff turning up for work.
Some passers-by stopped to watch the demonstration and were offered Greenpeace leaflets detailing the pressure group’s concerns about the company’s explorations in the Arctic.
They were protesting against Cairn Energy starting work on four new exploratory oil wells in Baffin Bay near Greenland this summer.
It coincided with a joint letter sent from Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland to Cairn CEO Bill Gammell calling on him to release details of the firm’s oil spill response plans.
At the same time Greenpeace ship Esperanza was shadowing the company’s 53,000 tonne oil rig as it make sits way towards the proposed drilling sites.
Scottish Greenpeace campaigner Rachel Murray who was at the Edinburgh protest said: “Cairn Energy are putting at risk the safety of one of the most fragile and important natural environments on Earth in a dangerous gamble to strike oil.
“Scientists are warning, and even British government officials are admitting, that a spill in the Arctic would be near impossible to clear up.
“It’s obvious the reason Cairn Energy’s bosses are keeping their oil spill response plans so secret is because these documents would show how ill-prepared they are for a Gulf of Mexico type disaster.”
In a statement, Cairn rebutted the group’s claims.
They said: “Cairn respects the rights of individuals and organisations to express their views in a safe and peaceful manner but would be concerned with any action that presents a risk to the safety of people and/or equipment.
“Wherever it is active, Cairn operates in a safe and prudent manner.
“The Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum has established some of the most stringent operating regulations anywhere globally, which mirror those applied in the Norwegian North Sea.
“It is in the interests of the Greenland Government to put in place the most stringent and robust measures.
“Cairn takes its responsibilities such as oil spill contingency and response plans very seriously.”
There were no reports of any arrests at the protest.