Protesters in plot to shut down Heathrow terminal for a day

18.12.2008   (Evening Standard)

by Robert Mendick and Nigel Rosser

ECO-ACTIVISTS are plotting to shut down a Heathrow terminal in the latest protest
against the aviation industry, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Hundreds of demonstrators are planning to disrupt departures from Heathrow’s
Terminal 1 by invading the check-in area.

The sit-in, organised through the internet and activist networks, is timed to
put pressure on the Government ahead of an imminent decision on whether to allow
a third runway at Heathrow.

Emboldened by the storming of Stansted earlier this month, activists with campaign
group Climate Rush believe the protest can attract huge support.

One source even suggested the protest could emulate the sit-in at Bangkok airport
that led to it being shut for several days.

Protesters are being asked to gather inside Terminal 1 at 7pm on 12 January,
a date that coincides with MPs returning to Parliament after the Christmas break.

Hundreds will then host a picnic on the floor of the terminal. If enough people
turn up, it is likely to lead to the cancellation of flights.

One source said today: “If there are only 50 of us I doubt it will stop the airport
from running but if there are 500 of us that is a lot of protesters in the check-in
area. If we are really successful, we could attract thousands down there and that
would stop the airport functioning on the day.

“The protest will hit businessmen trying to get home and might catch some MPs
returning late to London.”

The source said Terminal 1 was chosen because of its large number of domestic
flights.

Anti-aviation activists believe domestic and other short-haul flights should
be outlawed, claiming that such journeys can be undertaken on the train. The sit-in
is being led by Climate Rush founder Tamsin Omond, who has a previous conviction
for a rooftop protest at Parliament.

The Heathrow protest can also expect strong support from the Green Party, whose
leader Caroline Lucas will take part, along with west London residents who fear
the planned expansion of Heathrow will blight their homes.

BAA is understood to have invited Ms Omond to talks to discuss the protest.

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