Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 20:56 UK

Protester defends coal ship swim

Emma Gibson
Emma Gibson said she had been "very well trained" before the protest

A woman who swam ahead of a container ship to try to stop it delivering its load of coal to Kingsnorth power station has said she would do it again.

Greenpeace campaigner Emma Gibson, from Whitstable, in Kent, said it was worth it to get her voice heard.

The vessel was targeted as it sailed up the River Medway on Sunday night.

Ten people were arrested after a group protesting against the building of a replacement coal-fired power station on the site climbed aboard.

They have been released on bail.

The ship managed to dock at Kingsnorth despite the action of the protesters.

It just kept on coming and we just realised that the only thing we could do was to get out of the way
Emma Gibson, Greenpeace

Ms Gibson was one of three women who jumped into the water from inflatable speedboats at about 2250 BST as it approached the power station near Hoo.

"I was surprised. I thought that it [the ship] would stop when it saw us down there, but it didn't," she said.

"It just kept on coming and we just realised that the only thing we could do was to get out of the way before we got squashed, basically."

She added that she and the others had been "very well trained to do that role".

"I didn't feel that the situation was unsafe at all," she said.

But coastguards said rivers like the Medway were very unpredictable and ships containing large loads could not simply stop on demand.

Coastguard spokesman Colin Ingram said: "If the master of the vessel had to take evasive action then the vessel could have run aground and we could have ended up with a pollution incident in the Medway, which would have been catastrophic for all the wildlife."

Protesters climb aboard the coal ship
Some activists climbed the ship's foremast

Kingsnorth has been at the centre of a climate change row since E.On announced plans to build a bigger coal-fired power station to replace the existing facility.

If built it would be the first new coal-powered plant in the UK for a quarter of a century.

An estimated 1,500 demonstrators attended a climate camp to protest against the plans last August.

Emily Highmore, a spokeswoman for E.On, which owns Kingsnorth, said the campaigners' action was unacceptable.

She said: "We need to work together, we need to stop fighting each other.

"So talk with us, work with us, don't put yourselves in danger, and don't put our guys in danger."



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