Three Plane Stupid activists – the Tunnel Trio – sentenced to £305 fines each for blocking Heathrow tunnel in November

On 26th November 2015, on the day Parliament discussed airport expansion, three activists from Plane Stupid parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”.  The tunnel was finally cleared after 3 – 4 hours. The activists pleaded guilty, and have now been sentenced – by Judge Deborah Wright – to fines of £200 each, increased to £305 each with the addition of court and CPS costs. The three protestors are: Esme Waldron, 23, a student from Brighton; Alistair Cannell, 26, a bar worker, from Brighton; and William Pettifer, 27, a worker on an organic farm in Somerset. The Judge reduced the sentence from the original level of £300 each, as they pleaded guilty and had been careful to avoid any danger to the public. She acknowledged the good record of each defendant, and their sincerity in their belief of the harm that would be done by a 3rd Heathrow runway.  However, she felt they had been inconsiderate of the travelling public in causing around 75 to miss flights, and more to have problems with reaching the airport or parking. The fines were low, as the incomes of all three are low. A lively crowd, including some of the Heathrow 13, assembled before the hearing, to support the activists.
.

 

Three Plane Stupid activists – the Tunnel Trio – sentenced to £305 fines each

19.4.2016  (Plane Stupid press release)
Esme Alistair and William 19.4.2016
Alistair, Esme and Wlliam outside court before the hearing
Three Plane Stupid activists were ordered to pay fines of £200 each plus prosecution fees, at Uxbridge Magistrates Court this morning, for blockading the entrance tunnel to Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3, for four and a half hours on 26th November 2015.
The three protestors from Plane Stupid are: Esme Waldron, 23, a student from Brighton.           Alistair Cannell, 26, a bar worker, from Brighton. And William Pettifer, 27, a worker on an organic farm in Radford, Somerset.
Tunnel trio crowd outside court
They were greeted at 9am, outside the court, with a demo attended by many supporters including local residents, environmental campaigners and some of the Heathrow 13, who in late February were given suspended jail sentences for blockading the runway at Heathrow.
Esme Waldron, one of the protesters, said: 
“For most of us, all we will gain from new runways is dirtier air, more noise and more floods due to climate chaos. There are more than enough runways for people who take one holiday a year; demand for airport expansion only comes from a minority of frequent leisure flyers. This 15% of British people take 70% of our flights[1], often to second homes abroad and they have a high income. 
“While the huge business entity that is Heathrow spends tens of millions advertising its plans for expansion, where are the voices of the locals whose lives will be entirely uprooted or the climate refugees who are forced to migrate as global warming increases drought? This is an issue of class: a familiar story of a rich and powerful elite trampling over the livelihoods of those lacking power.” 
Tunnel trio outside court 19.4.2016
John McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, said: 
“My constituents have been fighting against the threat of new runways at Heathrow for decades. Locally, thousands of homes will be bulldozed and further afield a third runway would wreck government policy on climate change.
“When the government pushed for a third runway last time, it sparked a broad coalition of active campaigning, including civil disobedience like we are seeing again now. David Cameron promised us “no ifs, no buts, no third runway”, and if this government tries to bring it back from the dead, it is inevitable that they will face another huge battle.”
Eddy Thacker, one of the Heathrow 13, added: 
“Criminalising protestors and imposing suspended jail sentences and hefty fines will not stop protests against new runways.  If the Government gives the green light to a new runway it is likely to result in one of the largest campaigns of environmental civil disobedience since the anti-roads movement of the 90s.”
 
ENDS
[1] Table ATT0601, Public experience of and attitudes towards air travel, DfT Statistical release, July 2014. Analysis by afreeride.org(passenger survey data) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335069/annex-a-tables.xls 
Photo of the protest in the tunnel on 26th November 2015.
For more information contact:
Plane Stupid: press@planestupid.com / 07745 207 765
Mike Schwarz from Bindmans Solicitors: 020 7833 4433
.

If anyone wants to help to pay the fines for the Tunnel Trio, here is the fundraiser for their costs: (Tilt is a safe form of donation, and simple to use)  Tilt

.

Earlier:

3 arrests after Plane Stupid block Heathrow tunnel for 3 hours using a van + activists locked onto it

The main road entrance tunnel to Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 2 was blocked by climate change activists from Plane Stupid,  for about 3 hours, from 7.40 this morning. Three activists parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked themselves to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron’s election promise in 2010: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”.  Three people were arrested, and the tunnel was finally cleared. Some travellers may have been delayed or could have missed flights. Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder from Harmondsworth, whose house would be bulldozed for the 3rd runway, was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van for half an hour on 2nd July, the day after the Airports Commission announcement. Neil said: “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising ‘no ifs, no buts: no third runway’. …. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.”  There is already airport capacity for families taking a couple of trips per year, or wealthy foreign visitors to the UK, but a new runway would be for the most wealthy to take multiple leisure trips each year. Plane Stupid apologised for causing inconvenience, but believe the strong arguments against a Heathrow runway must be heard.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/11/plane-stupid-block-heathrow-entrance-tunnel-with-van-activists-locked-onto-it/

.


Activists who blocked Heathrow tunnel plead not guilty – [further hearing April 2016]

On 23rd December, there was a brief court hearing for the 3 activists who blocked a main Heathrow entrance tunnel on 26th November. The hearing was at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, and they pleaded not guilty. Another hearing will therefore be arranged in 2016. Many supporters of the activists attended the hearing and gathered outside the court beforehand. After the court hearing, a large group Heathrow-3rd-Runway-opponents including many local residents who face destruction of their homes and communities if a runway is built, met outside the Magistrates court. Wearing Santa hats, they sang a few Christmas carols and jingles (with two or three accompanying policemen) before dispersing. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/12/activists-who-blocked-heathrow-tunnel-plead-not-guilty-further-hearing-some-time-in-2016/

.


 

Earlier:

The last time the tunnel was blocked: 

Protester whose Harmondsworth home would be destroyed by 3rd runway, blocks Heathrow tunnel for half an hour

A blockade of Heathrow’s road access tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 brought traffic to a halt for more than half an hour at 12.45pm today. The protest follows yesterday’s announcement that  the Airports Commission report recommends the building of 3rd runway at Heathrow.  This would require the destruction of over 1,000 homes in Harmondsworth, Longford and Sipson with a further 3,000 homes made uninhabitable due to excessive noise and pollution. Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, used a large white van to block both lanes to incoming traffic. He then unfurled a banner that covered the side of his vehicle to face the stationary traffic saying, “Residents Against Expansion – No ifs, no buts, no third runway”.  The banner refers to David Cameron’s pledge prior to the 2010 election. His entirely peaceful protest was only ever intended to last 20 minutes, to avoid disruption to the airport. His co-operation enabled the police to avoid an evacuation procedure that would have caused further disruption to traffic.  Neil Keveren made it clear his action was a personal protest, and was not part of his role as Chair of the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) campaign group. However, his action were supported by many local residents and the local MP, John McDonnell. 

Heathrow tunnel blocked 2.7.2015

Full story at  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/07/26823/

.