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Greenpeace protestors put solar panels on British Deputy Prime Minister's house

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Greenpeace activists have scaled the house of Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and then mounted 60 square feet of solar panels on the roof.

The four men and four women were highlighting what they believe is Prescott's failure to make new houses, for which he has responsibility, more energy efficient.

After putting the solar panels up, they unfurled a large banner which read Oi 2 Jags! Hit targets, not voters.

John Prescott's wife was alone in the house when the protesters climbed the building. She was reportedly awoken by their noise.

One protester, Laura Yates, 27, said, "The Deputy PM's got a reputation for straight-talking," she said from the roof, "but since the election kicked off we've heard barely a squeak about climate change from big hitters like him. As long as the average existing British house is responsible for six tonnes of CO2 every year he's not dealing with the climate crisis. He's in danger of hitting more voters than climate targets. Whoever wins on May 5th needs to get serious about energy efficiency."

Speaking from the roof by mobile phone, she told Reuters, "It's a major contributor to the climate change problem and Prescott could do something about this, particularly with the millions of new homes that are going to be built in Britain over the next years," she said.

"He's overseeing this house building programme and he should be ensuring that every one of these new homes is built to zero emissions standards," she added.

The protesters climbed down at 2.50pm and were promptly arrested by local police for "harassment of a person in a dwelling". The police then handcuffed them before taking them away in a van. The protesters left the solar panels by the door of the house, offering to come back and install the panels at a later date.

A police officer emphasised to BBC News that the distress of the event had been immense for Mrs Prescott: "It's not pleasant to be invaded in the privacy of your own home and it is being treated seriously. She's very distressed but she's pleased with the happy outcome."

John Prescott is currently touring the country as part of Labour's General Election 2005 campaign. Speaking from Gloucester, he told BBC News 24, "It's now clearly a publicity stunt and it terrorised my wife in the early hours in the morning to see all those men scrambling over the building. [Mrs Prescott] did not know who they were. It's deplorable and unacceptable even for a publicity stunt."

The protesters were challenged by the armed police officers who guard Mr Prescott's home, but reportedly the officers withdrew when they realised it was a peaceful protest.

Sources