Specialist cleaners have been called in, as graffiti could permanently stain the pillars in Main Building
The cost of cleaning the stone pillars graffitied as part of a fossil fuel protest could allegedly be in the region of £10,000
Last week The Tab Cardiff reported that environmental campaign group People & Planet sprayed the words "Divest Now" on the stone pillars of Cardiff University's Grade II* listed Main building, and insisted the chalk paint used would not cause permanent damage.
However, as the pillars remain covered up, and efforts to clean them appear to still be underway, a geologist has told The Tab Cardiff the porous limestone that the building is made of will have absorbed the dye in the chalk spray paint used.
When asked about clean-up costs and the action taken to the students involved, a spokesperson from Cardiff University told The Tab Cardiff;
“We appreciate there are strongly held views on this subject and we respect the right to peaceful protest. The University has appointed specialist contractors to advise us on the clean-up exercise. The full cost has yet to be confirmed. We are putting any potential action on hold until we know the full extent of the damage and cost of restoration. We reserve the right to investigate this incident under our student behaviour procedure."
To learn more about the rare stone that was damaged, The Tab reached out to the Cardiff office of the British Geological Survey, coincidentally based in the main building of Cardiff University for more infomation. Geologist, Rhian Kendall told us:
"Portland Stone, is one of the UKs best known building limestones and has been exported and used in prestigious buildings in many cities including London, Dublin and of course Cardiff’s Civic centre. The stone is derived from the upper part of the Portland Stone Formation and is quarried as freestone on the Isles of Portland and Purbeck. Portland Stone is Jurassic in age and comprises off-white, ooidal limestone which contains a scattering of thick-walled fossils."
In a statement, a spokesperson from Cardiff University Students' Union told us that though they do support the students "divestment movement as a whole", and have been working with the University to discuss this issue with People and the Planet, however they "do not endorse the actions of students who vandalised main building and do not condone any behaviour such as this."
Given this was an environmental protest, we reached out to The Green Party to get their stance on what's happened. Benjamin Smith, Wales Green Party deputy spokesperson, told us:
"While it goes without saying that we do not support vandalism, I think these students have a very just cause, they took great care to use chalk and as such did not damage the building. It was easily cleanable and it made a very clear impact as to how they feel. Groups of young people are often under represented in the media and they felt they had to take visible and direct action to make an impact. It quite clearly has worked in getting them the attention the campaign needed. The Wales Green Party wholeheartedly supports these students' call for clean, renewable energy."
The university are yet to disclose how the pillars are going to be restored either by cleaning or even replacing the stone and also how the students involved are going to be dealt with.
After these events, the University is currently reviewing its ethical investment policy and the draft policy may be further revised when it is considered by University Council at its meeting later this month.