A group of six protesters from Greenpeace are arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after scaling London's 72-storey Shard tower.

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The group of female activists reached the top of the Shard in central London at around 7 on Thursday night after 15 hours of climbing in protest at oil drilling in the Arctic.

After reaching the summit of the 72-storey building, two of the campaigners unfurled a 32 foot by 32 foot blue flag with "Save the Arctic" written in white across it.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Six female protesters that climbed the Shard today have been arrested. They have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass."

Greenpeace posted pictures at 7:30am of a group of female protesters, and of the building, using the hashtag #iceclimb. It said the team had started climbing at 4am.

It named the group as "Sabine, Sandra, Victo, Ali, Wiola and Liesbeth", adding: "Wish them luck, they're awesome". You can watch the climb here.

They climbed all day and at 7.30pm one of the group scaled the final 10 metres to the top.

On the live video Greenpeace said the campaign was largely about oil company Shell's activities in the Arctic region.

The feed said: "This building - modelled on a shard of ice - sits slap bang in the middle of Shell's three London headquarters. They don't want us talking about their plan to drill in the Arctic. We're here to shout about it from the rooftops."

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A spokeswoman for Greenpeace (video, above) told Channel 4 News: "They are doing it because they are calling on Shell to stop drilling in the Arctic. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, we have three million people calling on Shell to stop drilling in the Arctic and so far they have ignored us.

"So we're here today to unveil a massive art installation at the top of the Arctic that brings home to Shell in their offices across London the beauty of the Arctic and why they need to stop drilling there."

It is believed that the protesters gained access to the building by climbing on top the roof of London Bridge rail station, which is next to the building.

'Safety'

Shell responded to the protest by saying it respects "the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations."

"Recognising the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including Shell personnel and customers in mind," a spokesman said.

On its Arctic drilling operations, Shell said: "Oil and gas production from the Arctic is not new. The Arctic region currently produces about 10 per cent of the world’s oil and 25 per cent of its gas.

"If responsibly developed, Arctic energy resources can help offset supply constraints and maintain energy security for consumers throughout the world. Shell has been operating in the Arctic and sub-Arctic since the early 20th century, giving us the technical experience and know-how to explore for and produce oil and gas responsibly.

"We work extensively with global Arctic stakeholders to research and develop standards and best practice on biodiversity, ecology, marine sound, oil spill prevention and response, safety and health."

The owners of the Shard said they had asked the climbers to stop their ascent.

"The Shard continues to work with the emergency services and we are in constant discussion with the Greenpeace representatives to ensure the safety of the protestors.

"We have asked them to stop climbing and come back into the building as what they are doing is dangerous. We take security, health and safety of all our occupiers and visitors to the building extremely seriously.

"The protestors have gained access in the early hours of the morning through an adjacent building and what they are doing is extremely dangerous."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police confirmed protesters had gained access to the building.

"We were called at 4.20am today to a group of protesters attempting to climb up the Shard," he said. "We are in attendance and monitoring the situation along with British Transport Police."

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Hundreds of thousands of people have tweeted their support for the climb, including celebrities such as Annie Lennox and Ewan McGregor (see tweets, below)

And PR guru Mark Borkowski took to Twitter to express his admiration for the slick organisation behind the stunt:

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