The Heathrow 13 threatened with jail sentences stand on the right side of history

Leo Murray, who was a co-founder and former activist with Plane Stupid, has written about the Heathrow 13, who now face jail sentences. Leo says: “The past teaches us that epic struggles against powerful interests cannot be won without some people putting their freedom on the line.”  The Judge said they should expect time in prison “primarily because of the ‘astronomical cost’ of the protest for the airport’s owners.”….”But what this judge did not factor in is the cost to the rest of us that increasing aviation emissions pose.” …Rising pollution from air travel is a very real and dangerous problem that nobody with power wants to solve…. aviation is the only sector of the British economy that is not expected to make any contribution to national CO2 emissions reductions” …. If a new runway is built  “we will have no hope of meeting our legally binding carbon targets. ….When democratic legislative processes have failed, it falls to ordinary citizens to act to protect the public interest ….history teaches us that epic struggles against powerful vested interests cannot be won without some people being prepared to do much, much more [than most] – including putting their freedom on the line…. The Heathrow 13 are just such people. History will judge them kindly .The Heathrow 13 will be Britain’s first ever climate prisoners. But as the long as the state continues to fail so abysmally in its duty of care, they won’t be the last.”
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The Heathrow 13 threatened with jail sentences stand on the right side of history

The past teaches us that epic struggles against powerful interests cannot be won without some people putting their freedom on the line
by Leo Murray
26.1.2016

This week the 13 activists who blockaded a runway at Heathrow airport in July 2015, protesting against the contribution of aviation emissions toward climate change, have been told to expect jail sentences.

The judge acknowledged their principled belief that they were acting in the public interest. Yet when delivering her verdict yesterday, she told them all to expect time in prison – primarily because of the ‘astronomical cost’ of the protest for the airport’s owners, BAA.

But what this judge did not factor in is the cost to the rest of us that increasing aviation emissions pose. These thirteen people had blocked flights at Heathrow in a desperate attempt to stop people dying from the effects of pollution and climate change.

In fact, aviation emissions were not even included in the Paris climate agreement signed by 195 countries in December. In the UK, aviation is the only sector of the British economy that is not expected to make any contribution to national emissions reductions. Cameron’s pre-election, ‘no ifs, no buts’ pledge has slowly, painfully reverted to the default Government position on this topic: rising demand for more flights must be catered to at all costs – preferably with a new runway at Heathrow.

If a third runway is built at Heathrow we will have no hope of meeting our legally binding carbon targets. Meanwhile research published in 2012 estimated that Heathrow is already responsible for levels of air pollution that contribute to around 50 premature deaths each year – a number that could treble if a third runway is built.

This is the context in which Plane Stupid activists were compelled to intervene, by placing their bodies in the way of aeroplanes at Heathrow airport last summer. When democratic legislative processes have failed, it falls to ordinary citizens to act to protect the public interest and challenge the status quo. These brave souls were acting in all of our long-term best interests when they cut through the fence at Heathrow last summer.

It is now understood that climate change is an existential threat to human civilization. Anyone with a conscience should be doing what they can to address this threat. For most of us this means signing petitions, cycling more or insulating our lofts. But history teaches us that epic struggles against powerful vested interests cannot be won without some people being prepared to do much, much more than this – including putting their freedom on the line.

It takes a special sort of person to make this kind of commitment and sacrifice. The Heathrow 13 are just such people. History will judge them kindly.

If the judge goes ahead with her threat, the Heathrow 13 will be Britain’s first ever climate prisoners. But as the long as the state continues to fail so abysmally in its duty of care, they won’t be the last.

Leo Murray is a co-founder and former activist with Plane Stupid. He is currently campaigning for a fairer tax on air travel at afreeride.org.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-heathrow-13-threatened-with-jail-sentences-stand-on-the-right-side-of-history-a6835041.html

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Earlier:

Heathrow 13 – the justification for their action, and reaction to the verdicts

Guilty verdicts have been handed down against 13 climate activists protesting against the expansion of Heathrow airport in the UK. The Heathrow 13 were on trial for climate change direct action civil disobedience occupying a runway of Heathrow in July 2015. The legal defence of the Heathrow 13 was based on the law of necessity in directly preventing emissions which contribute to climate change and significant numbers of deaths arising from climate and pollution impacts from civil aviation. Judge Deborah Wright told the defendants to prepare for the likelihood of an unusually harsh sentence on February 24th, and possibly to expect 3 months in prison. Heathrow expansion is the big test of the UK government’s seriousness about climate change, particularly in the wake of the December 2015 UN Paris agreement, hoping to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and aspire to only 1.5 degrees. Heathrow represents 48% of UK emissions from aviation and is already “the airport with the highest CO2 contribution in the world in terms of combined international and domestic flights” This puts Heathrow expansion at odds with the UK Government’s commitment to avoiding a ‘well below’ 2’C target. Below are a selection of comments on the verdict on the Heathrow 13 and their belief that their action was necessary.

Click here to view full story…

“Heathrow13” climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass – sentencing 24th February, for possibly prison

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid campaign group who occupied the eastern end of Heathrow’s northern runway on 13th July 2015 have been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome. They have been told it is almost inevitable they will face a prison term. Their defence had been that their actions were intended to prevent death or serous illness to people. However, district judge Deborah Wright (who sat alone) said the cost of the disruption at Heathrow was “absolutely astronomical”. Those convicted were clapped and cheered as they left the court. They have been bailed to appear for sentencing on 24 February. A statement released by the #Heathrow13 following their convictions read: “Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.” They say instead of the government taking action to cut carbon emissions, it is intending to spend millions making the problem bigger, if another runway is allowed. Though the judge recognised “They are all principled people” she considered what the protesters did was “symbolic and designed to make a point, not to save lives”.

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

Heathrow 13 – the justification for their action, and reaction to the verdicts

Guilty verdicts have been handed down against 13 climate activists protesting against the expansion of Heathrow airport in the UK. The Heathrow 13 were on trial for climate change direct action civil disobedience occupying a runway of Heathrow in July 2015. The legal defence of the Heathrow 13 was based on the law of necessity in directly preventing emissions which contribute to climate change and significant numbers of deaths arising from climate and pollution impacts from civil aviation. Judge Deborah Wright told the defendants to prepare for the likelihood of an unusually harsh sentence on February 24th, and possibly to expect 3 months in prison. Heathrow expansion is the big test of the UK government’s seriousness about climate change, particularly in the wake of the December 2015 UN Paris agreement, hoping to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and aspire to only 1.5 degrees. Heathrow represents 48% of UK emissions from aviation and is already “the airport with the highest CO2 contribution in the world in terms of combined international and domestic flights”  This puts Heathrow expansion at odds with the UK Government’s commitment to avoiding a ‘well below’ 2’C target. Below are a selection of comments on the verdict on the Heathrow 13 and their belief that their action was necessary.
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Runway Occupation on Trial – Verdicts

Monday 25.1.2016

Plane Stupid press release

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London – Today in Willesden Magistrates Court, the thirteen Plane Stupid activists who occupied Heathrow’s north runway for six hours on the 13th of July last year were all convicted of aggravated trespass and being airside without lawful authority.

The Judge has asked them all to return in 3 weeks on the 24th February for sentencing and has advised all defendants to prepare for immediate custodial sentences.

The thirteen defendants released the following statement, in response to their convictions:

“Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

“We are very grateful for all the messages of support and solidarity we have received from all over the world, and are immensely proud of the action we took to combat emissions from aviation. Climate change and air pollution from Heathrow are killing people now, and the government’s response is to spend millions making the problem bigger. As long as airport expansion is on the agenda, Plane Stupid will be here. We’re in it for the long haul.“

Most of the defence’s witness evidence was not heard in court, and none of the witnesses were allowed to appear in court. John McDonnell was not heard in full due to the Judge having already accepted the points he was addressing, and therefore ruling the statement irrelevant.

Her ruling on John McDonnell’s evidence is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/judge-wrights-ruling-john-mcdonnells-witness-statement

And John McDonnell’s full statement is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/witness-statement-john-mcdonnell-mp

Statements from three local residents from the Heathrow area were read out, detailing the debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions they were suffering from as a consequence of living near to the airport.

Character references for the defendants were also read out in court, from a variety of public figures including High Court Judge Peter Jackson and a long list of barristers and solicitors.

Alice Bowes-Larkin, one of the UK’s leading climate scientists, and a specialist in the climate impacts of aviation, submitted a statement which was read to the court. It mentioned that Heathrow “is the airport with the highest CO2 contribution in the world in terms of combined international and domestic flights” and “this puts Heathrow expansion at odds with the UK Government’s commitment to avoiding a ‘well below’ 2’C target, unless a major programme of efficiency and biofuel development are delivered in tandem.”

Sian Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for the London mayoral elections, came to court to support the defendants, despite her evidence having been ruled as inadmissible by the judge.

Sian Berry’s statement is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/sian-berry-statement

George Monbiot’s statement was also ruled inadmissible, and is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/george-monbiot-statement

Writing on how the activists will be seen in the future, he said:

“They will be regarded not as outlaws and subversives, but as democratic heroes. Succeeding generations, struggling with the impacts that our government’s failures to take action on climate change bequeathed them, are likely to be amazed that they could have been seen in any other light.”

In all, of the ten defence witnesses, only four had their evidence allowed, and none were permitted to appear in court.

The runway occupation, under the banner of anti-aviation expansion group Plane Stupid and the first on a Heathrow runway, lasted six hours and delayed or cancelled dozens of flights. The activists, who are all pleading not guilty, are accused of aggravated trespass and trespassing airside without authority.

The defendants are Sheila Menon, 43, of Hackney, east London, Rebecca Holly Sanderson, 27, of Machynlleth, Powys; Richard Steven Hawkins, 32, and Kara Lauren Moses, 31, both of Heol y Doll, Machynlleth; Ella Gilbert, 23, of Finsbury Park, north London; Melanie Strickland, 32, of Waltham Forest, north-east London; Danielle Louise Paffard, 28, of Peckham, south-east London; Graham Edward James Thompson, 42, of Hackney, north-east London; Cameron Joseph Kaye, 23, Edward Thacker, 26, Alistair Craig Tamlit, 27, and Sam Sender, 23, all of West Drayton, west London; and Robert Anthony Basto, 67, of Reigate, Surrey.

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/25/heathrow13-trial-verdict-press-release


 

Greenpeace comment on the verdict:

25.1.2016

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Commenting on the guilty verdict handed down to 13 Plane Stupid activists following a protest against plans for a third runway at Heathrow, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:

“Today, we stand in solidarity with the activists who have put their liberty on the line to protect us from the health and climate damage a new runway will cause. These campaigners have been found guilty in a court of law, but it’s pro-expansion politicians and aviation bosses that history will put in the dock – and the judgement won’t be kind. A third runway at Heathrow will exacerbate the air pollution crisis that’s already costing thousands of lives every year. And just weeks after the government signed a major climate deal in Paris, these activists are reminding us of the crucial international commitments we have made and should fulfil.”

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/plane-stupid-verdict-greenpeace-comment-20160125


It’s outrageous to send peaceful protesters to jail

My statement today in reaction to the news that thirteen Plane Stupid campaigners have been convicted and may face jail for peaceful direct action at Heathrow last summer:

“Right-thinking people across the country – even those who favour airport expansion – will be shocked and disappointed with the prospect of prison sentences for selfless, peaceful protestors.

“I was in court to support them last week and heard the many character references that were given, showing how these thirteen brave people are conscientious, caring and kind people whose longstanding commitment to the cause of stopping catastrophic climate change led them to take this action.

“By stopping the emissions from Heathrow for a morning they made a real difference, and their actions were only necessary because of the betrayal we have seen from the Prime Minister, who promised no new runways before he was elected, but has now made plans to expand the airports around London anyway.

“Many millions of lives are at stake if we don’t keep climate change within safe limits, and many thousands of people die already every year in London from air pollution. We should commend not condemn the people who are willing to take action when democracy fails.

“Putting people in prison will not make the protests or the case against airport expansion go away.

“The government started jailing peaceful road protesters in the 1990s and this just created more support for their cause. In the end that road-building programme was cancelled and I believe that there will be more campaigners and more protests as a result of today’s judgement – and that eventually the same will happen with the proposed runways.”

http://www.sianberry.london/air/2016-01-25-heathrow-campaigners/


 

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

Caroline said: “Sending the Heathrow 13 to prison would be utterly unwarranted.

“They took a principled and non-violent stand against the colossal environmental cost of expanding an airport that already breaches air pollution laws – yet they’re being treated is if they are somehow a danger to society.

“The real danger we face are the toxic fumes emitted by airports and the looming threat of catastrophic climate change.

“Sending these committed activists to jail would be deeply unjust.”    Link

He Heathrow 13 at court with Green deputy leader Shahrar Ali


John McDonnell barred from giving evidence at ‘Heathrow 13’ trial

20.1.2016 (Guardian)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/20/john-mcdonnell-barred-from-giving-evidence-at-heathrow-13-trial.

 

From a blog by Ella Gilbert, one of the activists found guilty;

Anti Third Runway Activists Get Their Day In Court

Posted by Ella Gilbert
25th January 2016
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Last July, I was part of a Plane Stupid direct action on Heathrow’s Northern runway. The action was part of long-running campaign against the third runway at Heathrow, and against UK airport expansion more generally.

Today, we were found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted zone of an airport. Sentencing is expected on February 24th.

We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When laws are unjust, ordinary people must take action to change them. Like the ‘Delta 5’, who were recently charged with stopping a coal train in the US, we acted to minimise the climate impacts of a hugely polluting industry. Although the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence, in the words of Judge Wright, we have “already won”.

Last year, on the 1st July, the long-awaited Airports Commission report was released, recommending the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. If the government acts on this recommendation (which appears likely) it will represent another massive U-turn on their part: in their 2010 pre-election manifesto, David Cameron’s Tories asserted that they would not back a third runway at Heathrow, “no ifs, no buts”. This promise was made at the height of the campaign against a third runway when there was significant pressure to oppose further development at Heathrow. Now in power, they clearly realise airport expansion is still an unpopular topic for Londoners. The decision is evidently a political one, with little consideration of the environmental impacts or necessity for more runways.

Despite claims that airport capacity in the Southeast is at its limit, in a 2012 Parliamentary Transport Committee meeting, the chiefs of four of the region’s largest airports gave evidence to the effect that there is spare capacity at many airports in the UK. The final decision has been delayed until after the London elections in May so as not to hamper Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s chances, as he represents the Richmond Park & North Kingston constituency which sits under the flight path.

The environmental case against airport expansion – not just at Heathrow – is clear. The sector is stubbornly difficult to decarbonise and efficiency savings are far outstripped by increasing demand. If it were a country, the aviation industry would be the 7th most polluting in the world. According to DfT figures, aviation accounts for 6% of UK CO2 emissions but this figure is misleading because it doesn’t account for the amplified effects of emitting pollutants at cruising altitude, where they are much less readily removed and have more significant climate effects. Add to this the emissions of non-CO2 pollutants and a more accurate picture emerges, though policy-makers are still reluctant to accept that aviation is damaging to local health and global climate.

Aviation and shipping have so far been the elephant in the room when devising climate legislation, both national and international. Excluded from the 2008 Climate Change Actand Kyoto agreements, the trend has been followed at every climate summit to date – andParis is no exception. Although included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, only flights that both originate and arrive in the European Economic Area are included – or around 11% of global aviation emissions. The International Civil Aviation Organisation, the specialised UN agency that regulates the aviation industry, makes noise about efficiency improvements and climate change targets but achieves very little. Those in power are taking very little action to tackle aviation’s significant contribution to climate change, so we must.

An incredible demo on Monday 20th morning attended by such prominent figures as Natalie Bennett got us off to a flying start (excuse the pun), and support has been pouring in from all quarters. It’s been incredible, and we are very grateful for all the statements of solidarity we have received. We have been lauded as heroes and defenders of democracy, and I think the level of praise has been unexpected for all of us.

We are, in the words of defendant – and fellow ‘hooligan’ – Mel Strickland, “13 ordinary people who find ourselves in an impossible situation…with the colossal problem of climate change. We don’t have the power, influence or resources that Heathrow does and there is no political will to change things via legal procedures.”

Given the immovability of the government on the matter, we were all faced with a choice – to do nothing, or to take direct action.

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/anti-third-runway-activists-get-day-court-20160124

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The Heathrow 13 threatened with jail sentences stand on the right side of history

The past teaches us that epic struggles against powerful interests cannot be won without some people putting their freedom on the line
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By Leo Murray (Independent)
26.1.2016
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….(extracts) …..
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If a third runway is built at Heathrow we will have no hope of meeting our legally binding carbon targets. Meanwhile research published in 2012 estimated that Heathrow is already responsible for levels of air pollution that contribute to around 50 premature deaths each year – a number that could treble if a third runway is built.

This is the context in which Plane Stupid activists were compelled to intervene, by placing their bodies in the way of aeroplanes at Heathrow airport last summer. When democratic legislative processes have failed, it falls to ordinary citizens to act to protect the public interest and challenge the status quo. These brave souls were acting in all of our long-term best interests when they cut through the fence at Heathrow last summer.

….

It takes a special sort of person to make this kind of commitment and sacrifice. The Heathrow 13 are just such people. History will judge them kindly.

If the judge goes ahead with her threat, the Heathrow 13 will be Britain’s first ever climate prisoners. But as the long as the state continues to fail so abysmally in its duty of care, they won’t be the last


 


Solidarity with the courageous activists opposing airport expansion in France and the UK

25.1.2015
Blog by 350.org
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We stand in solidarity with the activists in France and the UK, who now face evictions and jail sentences for standing up to protect the climate during protests against the expanding aviation industry. They took bold steps where governments have stumbled, acting out of principle to try and stop the increase in pollution to our air and atmosphere by an industry whose reckless expansion poses a grave threat to our climate.

Today, courts in each country simultaneously announced verdicts against the #Heathrow13 and 11 families from Notre-Dame-des-Landes (near Nantes) who have taken a peaceful stand against airport expansion. We are grateful for their dedication and shocked by the unjust and disproportionate verdicts that fail to take into account the overwhelming threat posed by climate change.

The suggestion by the court in the UK that jail time for this peaceful protest is “almost inevitable” will only re-invigorate the debate around the need for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and aviation expansion across Europe. It also raises the question of whether harsh sentences could be used to deter future dissent over increased air traffic.

The verdict refers to the costs incurred by a polluting industry as a result of the protest, but doesn’t recognise the urgent need to protect people from the economic and human costs of climate change.

In France, the court confirmed the evictions of eleven families to build a new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, close to Nantes. Farmers and environmentalists have been fighting the planned airport for forty years, occupying the area and mobilising tens of thousands in protest. That fight will surely continue.

In the words of the Heathrow 13: “When the democratic, legislative and political processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

http://350.org/solidarity-with-the-courageous-activists-opposing-airport-expansion-in-france-and-the-uk/

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The Flight of Reason in the Face of Airport Expansion

By Zion Lights,

in the Huffington Post,  26.1.2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/zion-lights/heathrow-expansion_b_9073574.html

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Uber scrap flat rate fares to London airports, but residents report problems with residential parking by drivers

Uber has announced it will stop offering flat rate fares to customers travelling to Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.  Uber used to offer a series of set fares for trips to the London airports, so customers know what to expect when going on their holidays and leisure trips. Uber fares to Heathrow from west London would start at £30, while passengers from south east London could get to Gatwick for £50.  Now the fares will be calculated on the time and distance, as they are for other Uber journeys. Customers can see from the phone app how much their trip will cost. Uber also announced that airport pick-ups will incur an additional surcharge, to cover minimum parking costs. However, there are a number of reports indicating that Uber cars are upsetting residents in areas near Heathrow, as large numbers park (for free) in residential roads, for hours, waiting for calls to pick up passengers. Waiting in streets with no facilities mean drivers have been reported urinating in gardens, or defecating near their cars. There have been complaints of groups of drivers appearing to be a threatening presence, being rude to residents, sleeping in their cars, and playing music into the night, while they wait.  Uber and Heathrow are meant to be trying to sort out the problems. Problems are also reported in the Stansted area.
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ITS NOT JUST AT HEATHROW : Uber drivers upsetting villagers near Stansted Airport

15.1.2016

 

Lack of parking restrictions in a village just one mile from Stansted airport where residential streets are being used as waiting areas for minicabs is causing anger and frustration for those who live there.

Residents in Takeley are finding their streets lined with minicabs, lately many of them the new Uber cars, waiting for callouts to the airport.

And with no residential parking restrictions in place save for one hour between 10am and 11am each day, they feel they have “no leg to stand on”.

Paige-Elizabeth Reed, whose mother lives in the village, said: “The parking is getting so bad, with Uber drivers sitting outside the residents’ houses for hours.”

But North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP), which has responsibility for parking in the Uttlesford District, says it is aware of the problem and is doing what it can to “enforce the area”.

A spokesperson said: “The problem extends to the clearway on Parsonage Road and Stansted Courtyard. Restrictions limiting parking to a specific one hour period are usually put in place to prevent commuters from all-day parking.

“Residents concerned about these licensed minicabs parking in the area should report their concerns to their Local Authority, in this case Uttlesford District Council which is the licensing authority.”

When asked about the licensing in the area, UDC replied: “UDC: “We do license taxis in the district, BUT, THESE UBER CARS ARE OFTEN PHVs LICENSED BY TfL IN LONDON, and they wait around near the airport for jobs to come in via the app.

“Obviously if there are no restrictions, they do have the right to park, even if it is inconsiderate of resident’s needs.”

NEPP says it considers the potential benefits and impacts of many parking or waiting restriction requests from across north Essex, and would gladly do so in this instance.

However, it does stipulate that applications for parking or waiting restrictions must be able to demonstrate clear support, including from the local ward councillor.

“Each request is reviewed and scored, looking at key factors including the level of local support, potential benefits and impacts,” said the spokesperson.

“Schemes are then referred to the Partnership’s Committee to prioritise and agree which will be progressed.”

Ms Reed says that restrictions must be looked at more closely and as a matter of priority, as currently residents feel powerless to take action.

“We have no leg to stand on. This needs to be sorted because it’s getting beyond a joke,” she said.

“1 mile from the airport and there’s people sat for hours just waiting and waiting. It has to and needs to stop. Make it permits only so residents can park easily with no hassle.”

Parish clerk Jane Heskey said the problem had arisen in the past few weeks.

She went on to say: “There is an average of 40 to 50 minicab cars waiting around the village.

There is a real problem with litter and there are no toilet facilities in their cars so there is also the obvious issue with bottles of urine and plastic bags full of human feces being discarded.”

She urged residents to record registration plates and take pictures of the cars so they could be checked out.

http://taxileaks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/its-not-just-at-heathrow-uber-drivers.html

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Dozens of Uber drivers ‘urinating in gardens, leaving Tesco bags of faeces in the road, and playing music through the night’ in residential streets near Heathrow

  • Residents in Stanwell, Surrey, took to Twitter to complain about vehicles
    ‘Aggressive’ drivers also run engines through night and block the streets
  • One man, 67, alleged he had been racially abused by one waiting driver
  • Uber told one customer drivers were ‘to be expected’ due to high demand

By LYDIA WILLGRESS

9.1.2016 (Mail online)

Some extracts from a longer article below:
Residents in Stanwell, Surrey, took to social media to complain about more than 40 cars at a time waiting on one road.

The ‘aggressive’ drivers were running their engines through the night, blocking the streets and urinating in gardens, they said.

Uber drivers are flocking to streets near Heathrow – including Oaks Street in Stanwell – where they urinate in gardens, leave plastic bags of excrement and play music through the night as they wait for customers, it has been claimed

One woman told MailOnline: ‘We’ve counted as many as 42 cars in one evening on our road and you can map those numbers to the Uber app as waiting for pick ups at Heathrow. They leave engines running, lights on, get out of their cars and talk in groups in the middle of the road, urinate up against garden walls and leave all their litter from takeaways.

“They also double park so the road is now impassable and when we’ve asked them to move as we cannot park outside our home, they get aggressive and quote the law.” She said the problem was worse around peak flight times, with cars arriving as early as 5am.

She added: ‘I don’t feel safe when there are lots of drivers. They are like a pack.

“Tensions are running very high and there were two arguments on my road on Thursday where neighbours asked drivers to move on and they would not. We love our home and don’t want to even have to think about moving but it could tip us that far if we don’t get support to change this awful situation.2

When Mrs X contacted Uber to complain about the problem, she was told it was ‘to be expected’ due to her street being an area of high demand. A customer service worker told her [the drivers were independent contractors, whose aim is to be in the right place at the right time.] “By your neighborhood being a high traffic area, this is to be expected.”

[One person complained on Twitter that they had over 15 Uber drivers per now urinating into bottles, and sleeping in their cars, waiting for Heathrow trips].

[Someone else said 5 drivers had been littering, and there were 2 urinating in his garden, with 39 taxis in the road. An Asian resident said he had been subject to racist abuse when he asked a driver to move his vehicle.]

[Another said] “They leave their lights and the engine running for hours.

Another residentsaid he had written to both borough and county councillors in a bid to raise the issue.

An Uber spokesman said: ‘We take any reports of antisocial behaviour very seriously, and what has been alleged is clearly unacceptable. Whilst this issue is not confined to Uber, we would urge residents to report such behaviour so we can take the appropriate action. We are working closely with Heathrow and hope to have a robust solution in place in the near future.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3391500/Dozens-Uber-drivers-urinating-gardens-leaving-Tesco-bags-faeces-road-playing-music-night-streets-near-Heathrow.html


 

Uber has scrapped flat rate fares to London airports

Monday 25 Jan 2016 (Metro)

Uber has announced it will stop offering flat rate fares to customers travelling to Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.

Until now, the company offered a series of set fares to trips to the London airports, so you’d know what to expect when going on holiday.

Trips to Heathrow from west London would start at just £30 while passengers from south east London could get to Gatwick for £50.

But from today, Uber will return to the ‘Uber’ way and calculate fares based on time and distance rates.

In an email to customers, Uber said: ‘Flat rate fares between London airports and central London will no longer apply — instead, fares will be calculated using Uber’s time and distance rates — just as they are for normal Uber trips.’

‘Whether you’re heading off on a business trip or coming back from holiday, you can always get a fare estimate in–app to see how much your ride will cost.’

Uber also announced in the email that from today, airport pick-ups will incur an additional surcharge to cover minimum parking costs.

Customers have expressed their disappointment on Twitter, with one user tweeting: ‘Very disappointed that Uber are moving to calculated airport fares – the flat rates were one less thing to worry about when travelling.’

http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/25/uber-has-scrapped-flat-rate-fares-to-london-airports-5642831/

 

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Court in Nantes permits the evictions of 11 families, in 2 months, for proposed new airport

The High Court of Nantes decided on Monday 25th January, to permit the evictions of the long-term inhabitants and opponents of the airport project at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Loire-Atlantique. A period of two months was given to the eleven families occupying houses, including four farms. The time limit does not apply to farm buildings or livestock, as they farmers have made it clear it is not possible to move a farm in two months. The legal judgement said the “the legal conditions for the eviction applications were deemed met in all cases.” The lawyers for the project’s opponents had considered the expulsions were “not consistent with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights”. The company trying to build the new airport, AGO, had hoped to negotiate with the land owners to find an amicable settlement, but eleven families refused. It had been feared that there would be punitive fines, each day, for the families if they did not move out, but the magistrate said this was not justified as it would be “disproportionate for families who have only modest means.” Opponents say this eviction decision will now force the government to act. The state will have to forcibly remove people, after 26th March, from an area wider than the ZAD (zone à défendre). The attempts at forced evictions in 2012 ended in violent scenes.

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Notre-Dame-des-Landes : « On ne déménage pas une ferme en deux mois »

Notre-Dame-des-Landes: “We do not move a farm in two months’

The Monde.fr

25.1.2016

By Remi Barroux (Nantes, special correspondent)

The eleven families who refused the expropriation of their lands to the court of Nantes, January 13, 2016. 

 

The High Court (TGI) of Nantes decided, Monday, January 25, to validate expulsions historical inhabitants and opponents of the project of airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Loire-Atlantique. A period of two months was given to the eleven families occupying houses, four farms. Regarding the latter, the time limit does not apply to farm buildings or livestock. Clearly, summarize the farmers concerned, they can not be expelled from their homes during the two months to come, but the rest of their operations could be seized or destroyed tomorrow.

A reading of the judgment, at 14:30 – “legal conditions eviction applications were deemed met in all cases”, said Pierre Gramaize, Senior Vice-President of TGI Nantes – the opponents of the project have accused kick. Without imagine to prevent the expulsion, they nevertheless hoped that the judge would not reject the transfer requests of priority issues of constitutionality (QPC). Their lawyers had indeed filed a QPC, finding that the deportation proceedings was “not consistent with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights”. It would be, in their view, a breach of equal treatment between several expulsion procedures. Las Pierre Gramaize found them “devoid of seriousness”.

Read also: Notre-Dame-des-Landes: Emmanuelle Cosse denounced “a will to push through”

The expulsions were requested by the company Aéroports du Grand Ouest (AGO), a subsidiary of Vinci, who won the 1 st  January 2011, the concession of the land where the airport is to be built, for a period of fifty five years. AGO had negotiated with all land owners to find an amicable settlement but eleven families refused these proposals redemption of their land.

Map ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes with the future of the airport layout and occupancy of places militants hostile to the project.
En savoir plus sur Map ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes with the future of the airport layout and occupancy of places militants hostile to the project.

 

Opponents and their lawyers can nevertheless boast a small victory. Indeed, the magistrate did not match his decision to a financial penalty, demanded by the dealer, in the amount of 200 euros to 1000 euros per day for owners who refused to leave the scene before the deadline. It held that such a measure is not justified, as “disproportionate for families who have only modest means.” “The individual circumstances of each case has been investigated, including the presence of children, in accordance with the European Convention on human rights and child rights. (…) The case of an elderly person has been carefully studied. “

See also: Airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes: where are we?

Evacuation to an end in March

This decision is very important because it will force the government to act, say opponents. “The true victory is that the judge dismissed the application for financial penalty. Families have no stress, then it will be for the State to decide to expel forcibly occupants from March 26, “says Erwan Le Moigne, counsel for the families. He also believes that from the time when the security forces intervene to proceed to expulsions, it will be to evacuate the entire area. “We do not in fact see how the police force would leave farmers, families, children without expelling as all zadistes [opponents of the project] Hedgerow “, he says.

Rendez you so late March. By then, the state might want to evacuate or destruction of all that is outside of houses. But again, the first concerned do not want to believe this nightmare scenario. “The judge granted us two months for the housing. But no firm moved in two months, and animals that could be tomorrow, a real disaster, “exclaimed Sylvain Fresneau, farmer and historical opponent. When asked what he will do, he calmly replied: “There, I milked my cows, we’ll see tomorrow. “

“This is the first time a judge decides expulsion of a deadline for such a procedure following an expropriation decision and removes any financial constraint”, sums up Erwan Le Moigne. But some opponents tempered optimism. “Our lawyers tell us that it is a victory in legal terms, but the pressure remains strong. I dragged this matter for years. I had four bailiffs visits in a few months, the registered mail, me, it does not suit me, nor me nor my neighbors “, as evidenced by Alain Brétécher living for twenty-five years in his house of Our Lady -of-Landes. Opposed to the airport project, in solidarity with all the other occupants, Alain, electrician who lives with her ​​13 year old daughter does not want to relive the violent events that marked the ZAD (zone defense) late 2012, when the government wanted to do, unsuccessfully, to its evacuation during Operation Caesar. Several days of clashes in the area and close to home.

Legal remedies still ongoing

So, opponents still believe in victory. In front of the palace of justice Nantes, they were coming 200 to wait the outcome of the judgment. For them, as was proclaimed Julien Durand, spokesman for the Association of Municipal intercitoyenne populations affected by the airport project (ACIPA), “there will never be airport at Notre Dame des -Landes “.

Above all, the decision of TGI concerns “that” evictions historical opponents. It slice anything on the merits of the case and the appeal against prefectural orders still under appeal. “I have not ruled on the merits of the airport, a public utility, it is the administrative court decide , I have brought judgment on the issue of expulsions “, told the World Pierre Gramaize, while congratulating” for the first time in the historyjudiciary decided to grant a period of two expropriated months: a small step for opponents of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a big step for the right of expulsion “.

Legal battle still ongoing

The decision of Nantes TGI precedes another judgment Wednesday to expel militants arrived in October 2015 and launched a project at the canning Noë Verte. The legal battle is not over, especially as a prefectural order is still awaited on the amphibious voles – a protected species of rodents – and that will be immediately attacked by opponents. Naturalists, hostile to the airport project, also said in December 2015, have found at the site, which must accommodate the site five new protected species.

On the ground, the two camps, hostile or favorable to the airport project, so do not plan to disarm in the coming days. And the mobilizations are linked. Saturday, a thousand opponents of the project have wandered peacefully in the center -town Nantes. Meanwhile, Bruno Retailleau, the new president (Republicans) in the region Pays de la Loire, went to Notre-Dame-des-Landes in support of residents whose homes were tagged by “zadistes” and call the evacuation of the area and the work begins.

Read also: Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the alliance of peasants and zadistes

On Friday, a delegation of activists of associations opposed to the transfer of the existing airport, Nantes Atlantique to Notre-Dame-des-Landes, was received very discreetly at the Department of Ecology inParis. The Minister, Segolene Royal, who was not present at the meeting, has never hidden his opposition to the start of work, and proposed that a new analysis be made ​​regarding the necessity of the transfer.

The record of Notre-Dame-des-Landes remains eminently political. One year before the presidential election, François Hollande he will risk triggering hostilities with the opponents of the airport project, and their many supporters in the country, ready to do battle with Vinci and the authorities, to break with the ecologist electorate?

Read also: Notre-Dame-des-Landes: time to decide

Original article in French at

http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2016/01/25/notre-dame-des-landes-la-justice-approuve-toutes-les-demandes-d-expulsion_4853167_3244.html

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See also:

from 350.org on 25.1.2016

Solidarity with the courageous activists opposing airport expansion in France and the UK

We stand in solidarity with the activists in France and the UK, who now face evictions and jail sentences for standing up to protect the climate during protests against the expanding aviation industry. They took bold steps where governments have stumbled, acting out of principle to try and stop the increase in pollution to our air and atmosphere by an industry whose reckless expansion poses a grave threat to our climate.

Today, courts in each country simultaneously announced verdicts against the #Heathrow13 and 11 families from Notre-Dame-des-Landes (near Nantes) who have taken a peaceful stand against airport expansion. We are grateful for their dedication and shocked by the unjust and disproportionate verdicts that fail to take into account the overwhelming threat posed by climate change.

The suggestion by the court in the UK that jail time for this peaceful protest is “almost inevitable” will only re-invigorate the debate around the need for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and aviation expansion across Europe. It also raises the question of whether harsh sentences could be used to deter future dissent over increased air traffic.

The verdict refers to the costs incurred by a polluting industry as a result of the protest, but doesn’t recognise the urgent need to protect people from the economic and human costs of climate change.

In France, the court confirmed the evictions of eleven families to build a new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, close to Nantes. Farmers and environmentalists have been fighting the planned airport for forty years, occupying the area and mobilising tens of thousands in protest. That fight will surely continue.

In the words of the Heathrow 13: “When the democratic, legislative and political processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

http://350.org/solidarity-with-the-courageous-activists-opposing-airport-expansion-in-france-and-the-uk/

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See earlier:

A thousand opponents of new Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport protest outside evictions court hearing

Backers of proposed airport at Nantes want the eviction of farmers from the site. More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the court in Nantes where the hearing – that could evict the last 11 families living on the proposed airport – was heard. Aéroport du Grand Ouest (AGO), a subsidiary of Vinci Airports, is requesting crippling fines of up to €1,000 per person per day against farmers who are refusing to move, as well as the seizure of farm properties and animals. Around 300 environmental protesters are currently camped out around the site in a long-standing protest that last weekend mobilised 20,000 people for “Operation Escargot”, an action blocking traffic on regional roads, including the Loire bridge. One Nantes resident facing expulsion, Sylvain Fresnau, a 54-year-old farmer with three children, said he did not believe that evictions would be possible due to the strength of local feeling. He said: “We don’t need another airport in Nantes. We already have 145 airports in this country”. Conservation lawyers say the new court action violates a commitment made by President François Hollande that there would be no more evictions until legal avenues had been fully exhausted. He has not kept his promise, and the case has become symbolic for French environmentalists. The judgement in the evictions case is not expected before 25 January.

Click here to view full story…

Estimated 20,000 protesters from across France demonstrate massive opposition to proposed Nantes airport

Organisers of the massive peaceful protest on the 9th January, against the proposed new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes estimated there were 20,000 people at the demonstration. The aim was to show the massive opposition there is to the airport, and especially to the forced eviction of the 11 families and 4 farmers from land on the planned construction site. At the protest, traffic was halted on the Nantes ring road, using dozens of tractors and blocking access to the city’s airport, Nantes Atlantique. Protesters say that the €580 million project is not necessary,will be detrimental to the environment and is a wasteful use of government funds.The battle against this development has been going on for 15 years, and has become a focal issue across France, against unnecessary high carbon projects that damage the environment or uproot people. There are over 100 support committees in places across France. The airport would require the loss of valuable marshy habitat, home to important wildlife, and good agricultural land. Some agricultural organizations threatened to maintain an indefinite blockade of one of the main river crossings, the Chevire Bridge over the Loire. Clashes between protesters and the authorities in 2012 resulted in a temporary halt to construction. The last major protest resulted in clashes with police in February 2014. There was a legal hearing in Nantes about the evictions on Tuesday 13th January – with again a huge crowd outside – the outcome is expected to be known on 25th January.

Click here to view full story…

Protests and mobilisations on Saturday 9th January against evictions for planned Nantes airport at NDDL

On Saturday 9th January, there will again be huge mobilisations of people against the planned new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in western France. Not only will there be gatherings at NDDL itself, and in Nantes but the many support committees in other places across France will plan mobilisations too. These included a bike convoy and a protest on foot in Paris, where people will be singing and dancing and giving out literature. The protest is because the authorities plan to carry out compulsory evictions on the 11 families and 4 farms in the ZAD (the zone à défendre), which are due to start in January. They are in the area where Vinci, the company planning to build the airport, want to start work. There is to be a court hearing on 13th January to request their removal, with a fine of € 200 to € 1,000 / day / person and the seizure and sequestration of property and farm animals. People who are passionate that the airport should not be built are not prepared to see these evictions. The government had agreed they would not happen until all legal remedies had been fully exhausted – and they have not. The airport opponents believe it would make better environmental and economic sense to improve the existing Nantes airport, rather than ruin valuable natural habitats and destroy productive farmland. They want a proper independent study done.

Click here to view full story…


 

Open letter by ACIPA to François Hollande asking for forced evictions at NDDL to be stopped

At Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), where a new airport for Nantes is planned, there are due to be forced evictions of those who remain on the land, after a tribunal hearing on 10th December. At the moment 11 families and four farms located in the area of the airport wants to build. The protest group at NDDL have now written to the President of the Republic François Hollande, to ask him to prevent these expulsions. The expulsion order is by AGO (Aéroports du Grand Ouest, a subsidiary of Vinci) on behalf of the state. ACIPA says that therefore, the responsibility lies with the President. There was a month long hunger strike in May 2012, and to end that, an assurance was given that there would not be evictions. That was updated in 2014. ACIPA say the families believed the assurances by government, and they have therefore not made arrangements to leave. The families and the farmers face all their property and livestock being put into receivership if they will not leave. The government made successive promises that all legal remedies would be pursued to exhaustion, and appeals are still pending. ACIPA asks how the President will keep the trust of potential voters, if he does not keep his word. ACIPA want a meeting with the President, the waiving of expulsion orders, and a proper investigation into options to improve the existing Nantes airport

Click here to view full story…


 

 

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“Heathrow13” climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass – sentencing 24th February, for possibly prison

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid campaign group who occupied the eastern end of Heathrow’s northern runway on 13th July 2015 have been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome. They have been told it is almost inevitable they will face a prison term. Their defence had been that their actions were intended to prevent death or serous illness to people. However, district judge Deborah Wright (who sat alone) said the cost of the disruption at Heathrow was “absolutely astronomical”. Those convicted were clapped and cheered as they left the court. They have been bailed to appear for sentencing on 24 February. A statement released by the #Heathrow13 following their convictions read: “Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”  They say instead of the government taking action to cut carbon emissions, it is intending to spend millions making the problem bigger, if another runway is allowed. Though the judge recognised “They are all principled people” she considered what the protesters did was “symbolic and designed to make a point, not to save lives”.
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Heathrow climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid campaign group who blocked north runway at Heathrow in July 2015 told they are likely to face prison

Plane Stupid activists at the start of their court hearing. The 13 were found guilty of aggravated trespass.
Plane Stupid activists at the start of their court hearing. The 13 were found guilty of aggravated trespass. Photograph: Mark Kerrison/Demotix/Corbis

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Press Association
Monday 25 January 2016

Thirteen protesters who chained themselves to railings at the UK’s largest airport have been told it is almost inevitable they will be jailed for their actions.

Members of the Plane Stupid campaign group cut a hole in a fence and made their way on to the north runway at Heathrow in July last year. They were found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome.

Giving her verdict at Willesden magistrates’ court, district judge Deborah Wright said the cost of the disruption at the airport on 13 July 2015 was “absolutely astronomical”.

outside court

Outside court, after the verdict

The demonstrators had admitted being on the runway but claimed their actions were necessary to stop people dying from the effects of pollution and climate change. Supporters packed the public gallery this afternoon, with one calling proceedings “a farce” and others shouting “shame on you” at the judge.

Those convicted were clapped and cheered as they left the courtroom. They have been bailed to appear for sentencing on 24 February.

outside the court

Outside the court after the verdict – the press interview the activists

A statement released following their convictions read: “Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

“We are very grateful for all the messages of support and solidarity we have received from all over the world, and are immensely proud of the action we took to combat emissions from aviation. Climate change and air pollution from Heathrow are killing people now, and the government’s response is to spend millions making the problem bigger. As long as airport expansion is on the agenda, Plane Stupid will be here. We’re in it for the long haul.“

Heathrow heroes placard

One of the placards by supporters, outside the court

The demonstration at around 3.30am last July caused delays for passengers around the world and 25 flights were cancelled.

It came after a long-awaited report recommended a new runway should be built at Heathrow rather than Gatwick.

Judge Wright found that the demonstration must have been linked to the publication of that report.

Dismissing the defence that their actions were necessary, she said what the protesters did was “symbolic and designed to make a point, not to save lives”.

She said thousands of passengers had been affected by delays that day, and said there are continuing costs as a result of their actions with additional security measures put in place since the incident.

Judge Wright paid tribute to the demonstrators for their passion for environmental matters, saying: “They are all principled people.”

But she added the incident was so serious that it is “almost inevitable that you will all receive custodial sentences”.

Ms Wright said there had been times during the week-long trial when defendants seemed “at pains to make political points”.

She added: “I sincerely hope the court process has not been used as a political platform.”

The protesters had enjoyed the support of Green party leader, Natalie Bennett, on the first day of the trial, and shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, had been due to be called as a defence witness but was barred from doing so by the judge who deemed his statement irrelevant.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We welcome today’s verdict. Anyone who breaks the law and interferes with the safe and smooth operation of the airport can expect full prosecution under the law.”

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Today, we stand in solidarity with the activists who have put their liberty on the line to protect us from the health and climate damage a new runway will cause. These campaigners have been found guilty in a court of law, but it’s pro-expansion politicians and aviation bosses that history will put in the dock – and the judgment won’t be kind.

“A third runway at Heathrow will exacerbate the air pollution crisis that’s already costing thousands of lives every year. And just weeks after the government signed a major climate deal in Paris, these activists are reminding us of the crucial international commitments we have made and should fulfil.”

Those convicted are Rebecca Sanderson, 28, of Newton Road, Machynlleth, Powys; Richard Hawkins, 32, and Kara Moses, 32, both of Heol y Doll, Machynlleth, Powys; Ella Gilbert, 23, of Magdalen Street, Norwich; Melanie Strickland, 32, of Borwick Avenue, Waltham Forest, north-east London; Danielle Paffard, 28, of Blenhiem Grove, Peckham, south-east London; Graham Thompson, 42, of Durlston Road, Hackney, north-east London; Sheila Menon, 44, of Pellerin Road, Hackney; Cameron Kaye, 23, Edward Thacker, 26, Alistair Tamlit, 27, and Sam Sender, 23, all of Kenwood Close, Sipson, West Drayton, west London; Robert Basto, 67, of Blackborough Road, Reigate, Surrey.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/25/heathrow-climate-protesters-found-guilty-of-aggravated-trespass

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NDDL and PS solidarity

The opponents of the planned airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes feel they share a common struggle with Plane Stupid


 

Earlier:

Dad of one of the #Heathrow13 sets out eloquently why we should be grateful for the climate warning they tried to give

The #Heathrow13 – the activists from “Plane Stupid” who carried out a protest on Heathrow’s northern runway in July 2015 – were in court on 18th January, and the Judge’s verdict was given on Monday 25th January. All were found guilty. Tim, the father of one of the activists, Rebecca Sanderson, has written about why (despite his earlier career working for an oil company) he is proud of what his daughter did, why he applauds their action, and why we should be grateful that they have tried to warn us about the climate dangers we face. Tim comments: “I am appalled by the apparently complete disconnect between what we know and what we do. …. There is now an overwhelming consensus that growth in carbon emissions could spell climatic disaster for our planet. Everyone apparently knows this ….. the general public, assiduously switch off mobile phone chargers and avoid over-filling the kettle. And then we feel so virtuous and pleased with ourselves that we book a flight to New Zealand, and wipe out all our emissions savings before we have even reached cruising altitude.” …. Tim makes the analogy of the “Railway Children” in which they trespass on the railway line waving a red flag, to prevent an accident. “The Heathrow Plane Stupid protesters have tried again to warn us. They have stepped onto the runway, and they have waved their red flags. They have trespassed, and we should be grateful to them.”

Click here to view full story…

Dad of one of the #Heathrow13 sets out eloquently why we should be grateful for the climate warning they tried to give

The #Heathrow13 – the activists from “Plane Stupid” who carried out a protest on Heathrow’s northern runway in July 2015 – were in court on 18th January, and the Judge’s verdict was given on Monday 25th January. All were found guilty. Tim, the father of one of the activists, Rebecca Sanderson, has written about why (despite his earlier career working for an oil company) he is proud of what his daughter did, why he applauds their action, and why we should be grateful that they have tried to warn us about the climate dangers we face. Tim comments: “I am appalled by the apparently complete disconnect between what we know and what we do. …. There is now an overwhelming consensus that growth in carbon emissions could spell climatic disaster for our planet. Everyone apparently knows this ….. the general public, assiduously switch off mobile phone chargers and avoid over-filling the kettle. And then we feel so virtuous and pleased with ourselves that we book a flight to New Zealand, and wipe out all our emissions savings before we have even reached cruising altitude.” …. Tim makes the analogy of the “Railway Children” in which they trespass on the railway line waving a red flag, to prevent an accident. “The Heathrow Plane Stupid protesters have tried again to warn us. They have stepped onto the runway, and they have waved their red flags. They have trespassed, and we should be grateful to them.”

Click here to view full story…

Supportive protest outside start of Plane Stupid’s #Heathrow13 trial for Heathrow incursion in July

The trial of the 13 members of Plane Stupid, who broke into Heathrow airport on 13th July, started at Willesden Magistrates Court on 18th. They are charged with Aggravated Trespass and entering a security restricted area. Their protest caused the cancellation of some 25 flights, which saved an estimated 250 tonnes of CO2. In doing so, they argue that helped to save lives in the Global South, by making a small cut in the emissions that fuel climate chaos. All 13 are pleading not guilty, and say their action was reasonable and justified in the climate context. They say “Climate defence is not an offence!” The judge hearing the case, by herself, is Judge Wright. The prosecution has been brought by the CPS. There was a large gathering outside the court, for the start of the trial, with many groups expressing their solidarity. This started with a short statement by the #Heathrow13 on their defence, before they entered the court to repeated chants of “No ifs, No Buts, No new runways!” Judge Wright declared that the fact that aviation fuel is linked to climate change is indisputable. The judge is looking at two issues: 1. Did the 13 genuinely believe their actions were necessary to prevent death or serious illness? And 2. Whether objectively their actions were reasonable and proportionate in order to prevent death or serious illness.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Dad of one of the #Heathrow13 sets out eloquently why we should be grateful for the climate warning they tried to give

The #Heathrow13 – the activists from “Plane Stupid” who carried out a protest on Heathrow’s northern runway in July 2015 – were in court on 18th January, and the Judge’s verdict was given on Monday 25th January.  All were found guilty. Tim, the father of one of the activists, Rebecca Sanderson, has written about why (despite his earlier career working for an oil company) he is proud of what his daughter did, why he applauds their action, and why we should be grateful that they have tried to warn us about the climate dangers we face. Tim comments: “I am appalled by the apparently complete disconnect between what we know and what we do.  …. There is now an overwhelming consensus that growth in carbon emissions could spell climatic disaster for our planet.  Everyone apparently knows this ….. the general public, assiduously switch off mobile phone chargers and avoid over-filling the kettle.  And then we feel so virtuous and pleased with ourselves that we book a flight to New Zealand, and wipe out all our emissions savings before we have even reached cruising altitude.” …. Tim makes the analogy of the “Railway Children” in which they trespass on the railway line waving a red flag, to prevent an accident. “The Heathrow Plane Stupid protesters have tried again to warn us. They have stepped onto the runway, and they have waved their red flags.  They have trespassed, and we should be grateful to them.”
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The Runway Children

By Tim Sanderson, the father of Rebecca Sanderson, one of the #Heathrow13

This piece also appears in the Guardian (25.1.2016)

22.1.2016

On Monday morning last week my eldest daughter went on trial at Willesden Magistrates’ Court.  She is 28 years old, and this was the first day of a court case which lasted all week.  She, along with twelve others, is charged with aggravated trespass and unauthorised entry to the runway areas of Heathrow on July 13th last year.

She and her colleagues are all members of the Plane Stupid pressure group, who are engaging in direct action against plans to expand aviation capacity by building a third runway.

I am proud of my daughter and I applaud this action.

I might seem an unlikely apologist.  I have spent most of my life working in the oil exploration business.  During the 1980s I was at the forefront of scientific research into commercial exploitation of the sensitive Arctic offshore.  I spent the next fifteen years working for one of the world’s biggest multinational oil companies, and I am now director of a small high-tech company offering oil executives training courses in strategy and management.  I drive an unnecessarily large BMW and I subscribe to the Daily Telegraph.

And yet, I was outside court last Monday, waving a placard and chanting: “No Ifs!  No Buts!  No new runways!”

Why? 

Because I am appalled by the apparently complete disconnect between what we know and what we do.  This is not just about aircraft noise and Gatwick vs Heathrow.  It is about the global environment.  There is now an overwhelming consensus that growth in carbon emissions could spell climatic disaster for our planet.  Everyone apparently knows this – the public knows and government knows.

What do we do?  We, the general public, assiduously switch off mobile phone chargers and avoid over-filling the kettle.  And then we feel so virtuous and pleased with ourselves that we book a flight to New Zealand, and wipe out all our emissions savings before we have even reached cruising altitude.

As for the government: they acknowledge the wise warnings of the scientific community.  They make apparently sincere commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and they encourage emerging economies to take greater responsibility and exercise moderation.  But then, with their next breath, they apparently forget everything – and earnestly advise us about the importance of our own economic growth and how vital it is to expand aviation capacity to keep pace with growing trade.

Well, I am sorry to say this does not make sense.  Life – whether business, personal or political – is all about choices.  To claim that you can choose a booming aviation-based economy while at the same time reducing carbon emissions is a cowardly deception.

Politicians should be brave enough to expose the real choices, which are basically quite simple:  either continue with our destructive habit of dependency on air travel (and ignore climate change) or make radical changes to our frequent-flying lifestyle, re-think our strategies for economic growth, and – hopefully – preserve the planet in a habitable state for future generations.

This, I believe, is essentially why these protesters took the action which has landed them in court.

There is a famous scene in “The Railway Children” by E. Nesbit, where three young children avert a major railway disaster, by warning an express train of a landslide on the line.  They do so by stepping onto the railway and waving improvised red flags.  The train stops – just in time – and many lives are saved.  In Chapter VII, entitled “For Valour” the children are praised by everyone for their prompt and courageous action.

They were, of course, trespassing on the railway.

We are, all of us, on that express train.  We are all hurtling towards climatic disaster.  We have been warned by scientists.  The authorities responsible for the railway are fully aware of the dangers.  The passengers know, and the train driver knows.  And still the train roars forward at full throttle, oblivious, yet knowing.

The Heathrow Plane Stupid protesters have tried again to warn us.  They have stepped onto the runway, and they have waved their red flags.  They have trespassed, and we should be grateful to them.

Tim Sanderson, Acton, London W3

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This was reported in the Telegraph:

Why former BP oil executive Tim Sanderson thinks the Heathrow expansion is ‘plane stupid’

Despite his past career in exploiting the environment for commercial gain, Sanderson supports the Heathrow runway protestors – including his own daughter who is now on trial at Willesden Magistrates’ Court

Tim Sanderson and his daughter Rebecca, who is one of the Heathrow 13 who allegedly chained themselves to a Heathrow runway.  Photo: Clara Molden

“No ifs, no buts, no new runways,” he shouted from the court steps in clipped Oxbridge tones, as lawyers, defendants and witnesses trooped inside.

This was no die-hard climate warrior, but Tim Sanderson, a former BP oil executive who spent a large proportion of his high-flying career devising how best to exploit the environment for commercial gain – from the North Sea to the sensitive Arctic offshore.

His 28-year-old daughter, Rebecca, is one of 13 people currently on trial for allegedly chaining themselves together on a Heathrow runway last summer, in protest at the proposed expansion of the airport. The judge presiding over the case is expected to deliver a verdict on charges of aggravated trespass and entering an aerodrome without permission on Monday.

Activists protest in front of Willesden Magistrates? Court against a third runway at Heathrow.

In a statement read outside court by Rebecca, the group said: “We are all pleading not guilty, as our actions were a reasonable, proportionate and justified response to the scale of the problem of climate change, a problem that aviation contributes massively to as the fastest growing source of carbon emissions.”

Sitting alongside Rebecca in the living room of the family’s large, cluttered and resolutely middle class home in Acton, West London, where chickens cluck in the garden and originals, rather than prints, line the walls, Mr Sanderson admits to a sense of incredulity at his transition from oilman to activist. His “unnecessarily large” BMW Five Series is parked on the quiet street outside.

Does he worry about what former colleagues will think about this new identity? “No, not at all”. Then does he feel like a hypocrite? “Every now and then”.

The trial of the thirteen activists who occupied Heathrow?s northern runway will commence on Monday.

At 3.30am on July 13, members of the Plane Stupid group allegedly cut a hole in a perimeter fence at Heathrow Airport before blockading a runway. The ensuing demonstration led to the cancellation of 22 flights and worldwide delays. The first Mr Sanderson and his wife Jenny (a music teacher) heard of the alleged involvement of the eldest of their four daughters was when she returned home after a night in the cells.

“It came as a complete surprise,” Mr Sanderson says. “It was a drawing of breath moment as I gradually realised the seriousness of the situation. But it turned quite rapidly to a certain reluctant pride when I saw how sincere she was.”

When I arrive early for our interview, the family are sat down to a lunch of poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, during which they discuss possible outcomes of the looming court ruling.

Like her father, who attended Merton College in Oxford, Rebecca is a first-class student. After school in Ealing (she will not say exactly which) she attended Edinburgh University and graduated in psychology. She currently lives with her partner in North Wales where she works in social science research.

Tim Sanderson and his daughter, Rebecca, live with their family in a house directly underneath the Heathrow flightpath.  Photo: Clara Molden

Her parents’ house, however, lies directly beneath the Heathrow flightpath and as we speak the steady drone of aeroplanes can be heard. “It becomes background noise after a while,” she says.

Her interest in the environment strengthened while at university. She became a vegetarian (much to her father’s good-natured disdain) and began investigating the impact of the aviation industry. “We’re in the 20-mile radius of Heathrow where a statistic shows that about 31 deaths a year happen [due to air pollution]. I was quite shocked when I found out that statistic contained my family house where I grew up.”

“I never expected to see my dad waving a ‘No third runway’ banner outside a court and in the public gallery cheering me on.”
Rebecca Sanderson

Her campaigning led to “difficult dinner conversations every now and then” and during our interview she sighs whenever her father defends the environmental credentials of oil multi-nationals. He remains company director of a business that trains would-be executives for the industry.

What of her own well-to-do stock, a charge often levelled at activists? “It’s an easy way to do a character assassination and make it look like you are acting because you have a privilege to act,” she says. “What characterises activists is they care about the issues, rather than have wealthy parents.”

That said, she has not shied away from her family background during the hearing. One of the character witness statements she supplied to the court was from an uncle (a high court judge). Of her father’s unexpected support she says she is “immensely proud”.

“I never expected to see my dad waving a ‘No third runway’ banner outside a court and in the public gallery cheering me on.”

It would be unfair to depict Mr Sanderson’s previous career as one entirely preoccupied with profit over the environment. After leaving Oxford with a degree in Philosophy and Physics he worked for a spell with the British Antarctic Survey, where in 1979 he published a landmark paper on ice sheet melt leading to sea level rise, which was one of the first to predict the impact of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“I think the young generation can show us you can believe something and act in the way you believe you should act. I feel very strongly, with my generation, that we all feel one way but [act] another.”
Tim Sanderson

He returned to England to study for a PhD at Imperial College before the oil industry came calling. A few years after joining BP he recalls attending a cocktail party for young company highfliers in Moorgate and arguing with a senior executive about the scientific evidence supporting climate change. The man resorted to attacking Sanderson for driving a company car – which he had refused, he was able to counter, in preference of a bicycle.

After Rebecca was born, however, the family moved up to Aberdeen and his principles faltered. Soon he did request a company car from BP – a gleaming black BMW 316. Later appointed commercial manager of Central North Sea operations with specific responsibility for planning and performance, other financial rewards followed.

Mr Sanderson is the first to admit the dichotomy between his thoughts and deeds, but puts this down to human fallibility.

“One of the big contradictions that I see about climate change and burning fossil fuels, is that we all earnestly read about the threat and agree with it and accept the scientific evidence,” he says. “We earnestly switch off our mobile phone chargers and half fill the electric kettle assiduously – and then we go on a long distance drive or take a plane to New Zealand and burn up all those savings in a matter of minutes. It’s almost as if we’ve got two brains that don’t communicate with each other. I felt like that then and still do to a certain extent.”

What prompted Mr Sanderson’s change of tack was being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995. He left BP two years later to set up his own company and as we speak the faint tremors of the degenerative condition are apparent. “It gives me some restrictions and freedoms,” he says. “It’s enabled me to do things I really wanted to do.”

One of those things is to reboot his own environmental concerns. “I find the young generation has a sincerity and zeal lacking from my own generation,” he says. “After rationing, we were the first who had the freedom to do anything we wanted. That led to a glorious feeling of freedom in the Sixties, followed by the yuppie era in the Seventies and Eighties of conspicuous over-spending and extravagance.

“I think the young generation can show us you can believe something and act in the way you believe you should act. I feel very strongly, with my generation, that we all feel one way but [act] another.”

Mr Sanderson likes to equate the Heathrow protest to the scene in E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children, where the youngsters step on to the tracks and wave red bloomers at a passing train to avert it from disaster. In the following chapter, the children are praised for their actions despite trespassing on the line.

Whether the judge agrees with him remains to be seen. But whatever happens to the Heathrow 13, the ranks of future airport expansion protests will be bolstered by one fruity voice – from the twilight, the oilman cometh.

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See earlier:

Supportive protest outside start of Plane Stupid’s #Heathrow13 trial for Heathrow incursion in July

The trial of the 13 members of Plane Stupid, who broke into Heathrow airport on 13th July, started at Willesden Magistrates Court on 18th. They are charged with Aggravated Trespass and entering a security restricted area. Their protest caused the cancellation of some 25 flights, which saved an estimated 250 tonnes of CO2. In doing so, they argue that helped to save lives in the Global South, by making a small cut in the emissions that fuel climate chaos. All 13 are pleading not guilty, and say their action was reasonable and justified in the climate context. They say “Climate defence is not an offence!” The judge hearing the case, by herself, is Judge Wright. The prosecution has been brought by the CPS. There was a large gathering outside the court, for the start of the trial, with many groups expressing their solidarity. This started with a short statement by the #Heathrow13 on their defence, before they entered the court to repeated chants of “No ifs, No Buts, No new runways!” Judge Wright declared that the fact that aviation fuel is linked to climate change is indisputable. The judge is looking at two issues: 1. Did the 13 genuinely believe their actions were necessary to prevent death or serious illness? And 2. Whether objectively their actions were reasonable and proportionate in order to prevent death or serious illness.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Surrey County Council’s £3bn funding shortfall for new homes infrastructure – even before extra demand from a new runway

The Airports Commission expected that a 3rd Heathrow runway might require over 70,000 new homes to be built. The figure at Gatwick might be over 18,000. Other estimates put the figure higher – up to 45,000 at Gatwick. The estimate for the number of new schools required is 56, for Heathrow. The cost of the additional infrastructure, not only surface transport, has been glossed over.  Meanwhile, the local authorities are very concerned about the cost of paying for roads, rail links, and schools – not to mention the medical facilities, water, sewage, other utilities etc etc. for current housing demand – let alone the extra runway-generated demand.  Surrey County Council (SCC) has assessed housing need and local plans over the next 15 years, and revealed a gap in funding for roads, public transport, school places, flood defences and other infrastructure. Only considering schemes currently planned to deliver more housing, SCC says it cannot fund the around £3 billion shortfall.  It will need assistance from central government. Their report will be discussed at a meeting on 26th January. It cannot ask Surrey residents to fund “something that is completely out of the reach of the council taxpayer.”  How will the councils fund the massive infrastructure costs of a new runway, on top of all this?
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Surrey County Council’s £3bn funding shortfall for new homes infrastructure revealed

22 January 2016
BY JAMES WATKINS (Get Surrey)

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Surrey County Council says it will likely have to turn to the government for support to afford the infrastructure needed to cope with housing demands

Surrey County Council is facing a £3bn funding shortfall

A multi-billion pound shortfall in funds to pay for infrastructure improvements needed to cope with Surrey’s swelling demand for housing has been highlighted in a new report.

The document, which assesses housing need and local plans over the next 15 years, has revealed a gap in funding for roads, public transport, school places, flood defences and other infrastructure – understood by Get Surrey to be in the region of £3bn.

Senior borough council leaders have been briefed on Surrey County Council’s (SCC) draft Surrey Infrastructure Report, which is expected to be discussed during an SCC economic prosperity, environment and highways board meeting on Tuesday (January 26).

Councillor John Furey, SCC’s cabinet member for highways, transport and flooding, could not confirm the exact amount needed for the infrastructure works, as costing has not been finalised, but said it was expected to run to billions of pounds.

“What we have done is taken all of the local plans that borough and districts have been preparing,” said Cllr Furey.

“[We have] analysed their economic development area, analysed the housing numbers they are proposing, analysed the requirements from that as to how we provide the infrastructure to go with those proposals, and then worked together to finalise the means by which we will fund the infrastructure requirements.”

He continued: “It is very much a collaborative issue. Surrey [County Council] is taking the lead because we are the highway authority. It is entirely dependent on what boroughs and districts are proposing.

“It is not going to be millions, it is going to be billions of pounds. It will have to be government funding. We cannot ask our residents to fund something that is completely out of the reach of the council taxpayer.

“What we have to do is present to government a compelling case that if we provide this infrastructure, what the economic growth will be and what the housing delivery numbers will be.”

Cllr Furey said one major issue was the refurbishment and upgrade of the North Downs railway line, adding it could be key in providing a better service – with extra trains to take people off currently congested roads.

“One thing that hits the economy is congestion,” he said. “More importantly, it affects ordinary residents who want to use roads to get from A to B and find themselves in a six-hour queue.

“Railway, roads, public transport – it is all of those things that have to be taken into consideration, so the infrastructure study will be very detailed.”

The report is currently in draft form and Cllr Furey expects it to be finalised by the end of March.

This would coincide with the release of Guildford Borough Council’s report on infrastructure proposals for the borough, expected to include plans for a new ‘sustainable corridor’, A3 junction improvements and a railway station at Park Barn.

The county council report, which was compiled by an independent body, also includes details on flood defences and primary and secondary schools.

Greenbelt

As well as smaller developments, there are several major housing proposals that have caused alarm about the potential impact on the county’s creaking infrastructure.

Plans for the University of Surrey’s Blackwell Farm, Dunsfold Aerodrome, the former Wisley Airfield and Slyfield Area Regeneration Project, are each the subject of proposals for homes numbering in the thousands.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/councils-3bn-funding-shortfall-new-10769785

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Back in July,

Surrey County Council commented, after the Airports Commission recommendation of a Heathrow runway:

Heathrow expansion means more than 70,000 new homes and 56 schools

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge told a Runways UK conference:

  • Expanding the airport could require up to 70,800 homes to be built in the local area* over the next 15 years
  • That would mean a need for 50 more primary schools and six new secondary schools.

He discussed the figures contained in last week’s Airports Commission report after giving a speech in which he stressed that before any new runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick there needs to be investment in local infrastructure.

Mr Hodge said: “We are not against expansion of either Gatwick or Heathrow. There are national and local benefits – especially economic – from both but we can only support expansion if the necessary investment in local infrastructure is put in place first.

“As a starting point for Heathrow, we need a fourth lane on the M25 from junctions 10 to 16, widening work at junction 11, a new rail service to Waterloo from the airport via Staines and more coaches and buses to link it to places like Camberley, Woking and Guildford.

“And if we are to be certain that our residents will see the benefit of the extra schools, homes and environmental measures that expansion requires, investment will need to go well beyond improving transport links.”

* The 14 boroughs surrounding Heathrow, including Spelthorne and Runnymede.

[Several Surrey boroughs are close to Gatwick, including Reigate & Banstead, Tandridge and Mole Valley.  AW note]

Heathrow expansion means more than 70,000 new homes and 56 schools

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Earlier:

Airports Commission estimates new homes needed for new runway – 18,400 at Gatwick; 70,800 at Heathrow (maybe more)

The Airports Commission estimates that a 3rd Heathrow runway could require up to 70,800 homes to be built locally to support the additional jobs created by the development.  The Commission estimates a Gatwick 2nd  runway could require up to 18,400 homes to be delivered across 14 local authorities, and it said this could be done up to 2030, with “land availability unlikely to be affected by green belt issues”.  (Estimate of 30,000 – 45,000 homes by W Sussex County Council + Gatwick Diamond). More houses would be needed for Heathrow expansion than Gatwick expansion, due to more additional business activity following a runway at Heathrow than at Gatwick, and more from the airport’s north-west runway plan (up to 70,800), than the Heathrow Hub idea of extending the northern runway (up to 60,600).  The Commission acknowledges that these upper limits may present challenges for local authorities, outlining that “many… already struggle to meet housing targets”. The only relief would be that the homes could be delivered over a number of years, and the pain would be shared between many authorities. However, Green Belt would be seriously threatened – not to mention urban cramming and loss of village character.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/11/airports-commission-estimates-new-homes-needed-for-new-runway-18400-at-gatwick-70800-at-heathrow-maybe-more/

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New town bigger than Hove needed if Gatwick runway is built

Finn Scott-Delany, Business editor  (The Argus)
3 September 2013

Up to 45,000 new homes would be needed if a new runway is built at Gatwick.

That is the conclusion of a study by independent consultants commissioned by West Sussex County Council and the business-led Gatwick Diamond Initiative.

The report claims the housing – which is the equivalent of a town larger than Hove – would be needed to cope with a vastly increased workforce, dozens of new firms and the infrastructure required for the expanded airport.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), said: “This independent study, if correct, shows that a new runway would lead to widespread urbanisation, serious pressure on schools and hospitals, and the loss of much dearly-loved countryside.

“The more we find out, the more we doubt if the implications of the study were taken on board by members of the county council before they took their surprise decision in July to support a new runway.”

He added: “The Gatwick Diamond businessmen, who have been lobbying to promote a new runway, also have some explaining to do. They sponsored this study so they can’t disown it.”

The prediction was included in a document published by the local authority titled “Implications of changes to airport capacity”.

Up to 5,000 new homes would be needed in 2015-2020, 15,000 in 2020-2025 and 25,000 in 2025-2030.

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, said he supported the findings but described their presentation as “alarmist”.

He said: “What the report also found was that if we don’t support a second runway we will see a decline of 10,000 jobs.

“GACC need to explain how our economy will recover should the runway be built elsewhere.

“The figures are alarmist. Maybe we could see 30,000 houses over ten to 15 years after 2025.”

It comes as Crawley and Horsham councils are struggling to find suitable sites for a few thousand houses.

Both are currently in the process of adopting their development plans, which will map out their area’s blueprint for the next two decades.

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10649181.New_town_bigger_than_Hove_needed_if_Gatwick_runway_is_built/?ref=rss

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Heathrow try to dress up the damage its runway would do to Colne Valley park as a huge bonus

Finding that a runway decision by the government is probably still months away, Heathrow is scraping around to find some bits of PR it can use to promote its runway plans. The planned runway would cut into the Colne Valley Regional Park, taking out a chunk of it. The park is already seriously affected by Heathrow, being just to the west of it. In 2013 Colne Valley said the runway would wipe out parts of the park.  It would hit Colnbrook hardest, and see Lakeside Education Centre lost along with nearly all of the Green Belt north of the by-pass to Sutton Lane. Colnbrook West and Orlitts Lake would be filled in, while the Colne Brook would be culverted or diverted along with three other rivers locally. And so on. But Heathrow is now proud to produce its plans for a lovely new park, with a lot of new improvements – but these would ONLY be made if it gets its runway.  Not otherwise – other than the £5,000 it gives each year. Nothing in the carefully written “doublespeak” from Heathrow, describing the park, reveals just how much damage the runway would in fact do to the park. The board of the Colne Valley Park CIC (Community Interest Company) remain “opposed to the building of the third runway due to the detrimental impact this will have upon the Regional Park.” If the runway is allowed, they will have to work with Heathrow to ensure the rest of the park continues to benefit wildlife, and local communities.
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This is what Heathrow says: 

“Heathrow to invest £105m to create once in a generation green spaces boost with expansion

18.1.2016  (Heathrow’s press release – so beware the careful wording….)

Heathrow expansion has potential to create new and enhanced public green spaces that will be four times the size of Hyde Park

More than £105 million available in expansion plans for new community buildings and green space creation

Transformational improvements to Colne Valley Regional Park would reduce flood risk, protect biodiversity and create new public spaces for people to enjoy

Images unveiled today show how the communities around Heathrow could benefit from a £105m investment in green spaces if the airport is allowed to expand.

When completed, parkland around the airport would be approximately four times the size of London’s Hyde Park.

The investment is included in the airport’s expansion plans and would create new and enhanced public parkland, as well as wildlife habitats, in west London. This would give local communities more outdoor recreational opportunities, boost biodiversity and improve the look and feel of the area.

The new images released today highlight the improvements, including the potential transformations within the southern part of the Colne Valley Regional Park. Heathrow will work with interested parties to create new wet meadows for flood protection, boosting biodiversity, pastures for grazing animals, bridleways, a cross country course, natural ponds, sports facilities, formal gardens, allotments and even a mountain bike trail for the public to enjoy.

Heathrow is collaborating with the Colne Valley Regional Park Community Interest Company (CIC) on developing this vision if the airport is chosen to expand. The green spaces redevelopment plans would be subject to public consultation as part of a rigorous planning process.

New green areas to the East, North and South of the airport would also be created. Heathrow would work with the Friends of the River Crane to improve the quality of the habitat for watercourses to the east of the airport and increase their public amenity value.

To the North, there is an opportunity to create wetland areas with public boardwalk access, an improved cycle network connecting with local boroughs. Finally, to the South, potentially new and enhanced green spaces would include new, publicly accessible sports facilities.

Heathrow has been a corporate supporter of the CIC for many years and continues to work with stakeholders across local communities, to improve environmental conditions in the area.

Heathrow Director of Sustainability, Matt Gorman said:

“Heathrow expansion is an opportunity to provide once in a generation improvements to the physical environment for the communities around the airport.

Our new plan means this airport can be world-leading in environmental performance and guarantee that those most impacted by expansion get both the greatest benefits and fair treatment.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

“The Colne Valley Park is the first large taste of countryside to the west of London. The Park, which was founded in 1965, stretches from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines and the Thames in the south, Uxbridge and Heathrow in the east to Slough and Chalfont in the west.” More information can be found on their website here: http://www.colnevalleypark.org.uk
Heathrow provides an annual donation to the CIC of £5,000 which goes to fund the park and CIC activities.
More information on Heathrow’s plans to improve green spaces around the airport with expansion can be found in Taking Britain Further, Volume 1 available for download, here [link: http://your.heathrow.com/takingbritainfurther/downloads/ ] . ”

http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Expansion-News-23/5540


This is the reality – Heathrow takes a chunk out of the park, cuts it in two, and therefore has to do a lot of work in trying to sort out the resultant mess.  (The hatched blue area is the southern part of the park, and the red line is the boundary of Heathrow, if it got a 3rd runway to the north west).

From  http://www.heathrow.com/file_source/Company/Static/PDF/Companynewsandinformation/08_Heathrow_3RNW_-_Landscape_and_Visual_Impact_Assessment.pdf

Colne Valley park and Heathrow


 

The board of the Colne Valley Park CIC said in a statement: “The Colne Valley Park CIC remains opposed to the building of the third runway due to the detrimental impact this will have upon the Regional Park.

“Should the government approve the third runway option we would want to work with Heathrow Airport on improving their plans to ensure that the remainder of the Colne Valley Regional Park benefits local wildlife, landscapes and communities in line with the park’s objectives.”   Link

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Below is an illustration of the whole park.

Earlier:

Colne Valley says Heathrow’s expansion bid will “wipe out” southern part of Park

25 JULY, 2013 (Colnbrook Views)  [When there was also the possibility of a southern runway – since discounted]
The Colne Valley says Heathrow’s just-announced North-West and South-West expansion options would “wipe out” the southern part of the Park.

The North-West option which would hit Colnbrook hardest would see Lakeside Education Centre lost along with nearly all of the Green Belt north of the by-pass to Sutton Lane. Colnbrook West and Orlitts Lake would be filled in, while the Colne Brook would be culverted or diverted along with three other rivers locally. The M25 would be diverted through Richings Park and the A4 diverted through Poyle.

Harmondsworth Moor would be obliterated, the Colne Valley Trail chopped in half and the Colne Valley Park Circular Walks completely lost. The ancient villages of Harmondsworth and Longford would be completely destroyed.

In a news release issued on Monday the Park hit out at the devastating impact both options would have.

“Both the North West and the South West options effectively wipe out the southern part of the Colne Valley Regional Park as a coherent entity. In addition there are proposed railway links to Heathrow through the Colne Valley from the north and the south and other associated infrastructure and developments that are sure to follow.”

It said the the third (“North”) option would have much less impact on the park but acknowledged that it would see the destruction of Sipson and Harlington.

The Colne Valley Park covers 43 square miles of countryside right on the edge of London – running from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines in the south, and from Uxbridge in the east to Chalfont and Slough in the west. The Park contains many valuable wildlife habitats and many opportunities to get up close with rare wildlife.

Carol Gibson, Director of the Colne Valley Park CIC, said

“The Colne Valley Regional Park is under siege. It was established 50 years ago when the previous generation saw the potential of the Colne Valley to serve communities of west London and adjacent counties in providing an escape into countryside. Huge areas of this countryside may be about to vanish under High Speed 2, Slough International Freight Exchange, Pinewood Studios Development and now a 3rd – 4th runway at Heathrow, all on Green Belt.

If any of these developments are allowed to go ahead only a comprehensive package to mitigate the impacts on local landscapes, rivers, biodiversity and communities in the Colne Valley Regional Park and to enhance what remains, will ensure that the Park has a sustainable future.

Whilst the wider open spaces of England deserve protection, we must resist the large scale destruction of precious countryside close to urban areas. Build over it and there will be increasing demand not only for development in really rural areas but also for access to more remote areas by people forced to travel further from their homes for recreation.”

Most of the park’s activities to date have centred on countryside activities at Denham Country Park, Black Park, Rickmansworth Aquadrome, Staines Moor, Iver Environment Centre and the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

Colnbrook’s stretch of the Colne Valley, perhaps the most neglected, has hitherto gained little attention from the Community Interest Company; even the threat from the Slough International Freight Exchange received a low key response.

The statement from the Park suggests that Heathrow’s onslaught will inevitably refocus strategy in the period ahead.

Colnbrook is not currently represented on the 12-member board set up to manage the company, although both the Colnbrook Community Association and Parish Council are member organisations.

http://www.colnbrook.info/colne-valley-says-heathrows-expansion-bid-will-wipe-out-the-southern-part-of-the-regional-park/


 

Definition of Doublespeak:

“Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs, “servicing the target” for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war “peace”). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.”

In this case, it is saying the destruction of part of the park and huge intrusions into to produce a new runway, is an “improvement”.  The work is merely necessary to sort out the mess created from having had to dig up a piece of the area to cover it in concrete for the runway.

 

Read more »

Block of ice from a passing plane crashes through roof of home in Twyford

An elderly couple, in Twyford, Berkshire (under a Heathrow flight path) had the unpleasant experience of a block of ice, which appeared to have fallen from a passing plane, crash through their roof.  The two foot long block cracked the ceiling. Luckily it hit the roof in a different part of the house from where the couple were. They said they were lucky not to have been injured. There have been many other incidents over the years of blocks of ice falling – associated with frozen water from aircraft lavatories.  Had the ice block fallen onto the road, it could have hit a car or a passer-by.  Had it fallen onto a busy road like a motorway, it could have caused a serious accident.  The elderly couple had to be assisted by their son in sorting out insurance, and getting the roof repaired. As the insurance company was slow, being a Sunday morning, the local fire brigade helped to patch up the damage and confirm the water and electricity supplies to their house were undamaged. Water (from a lavatory?) from the ice block was dripping through the (now sagging) damaged ceiling. The couple have kept a sample of water, so it can be tested, to identify if it is from a lavatory.  Other reports of earlier incidents of items falling from planes can be seen here.  Twyford is about 30 km west of Heathrow, on the landing flight path during easterly operations.
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There are many other incidents of objects falling from planes, in the UK and elsewhere.

Reports on some of these incidents can be seen here.



Elderly couple shocked after block of ICE ‘from passing plane’ crashes through their roof

20.1.2016 (Mirror)

By Andy Carswell , Sophie Evans

Audrey and Allen Burt were in another room of their Berkshire home when the slab of ice crashed through their roof on Sunday morning


Shocked: Richard Burt points to the damage caused by the falling block of ice

An elderly couple had a near-miss when a large block of ice believed to be from a passing plane crashed through the roof of their home.

The ice missile – which was apparently ejected from an overhead aircraft when someone pulled the toilet flush – smashed into Audrey and Allen Burt’s home on Sunday morning.

Fortunately, the frail pensioners were in another room of the Berkshire house with their carer son, Richard, and his wife, Ava Hendricks, at the time of the freak incident.

Today, the family – whose home in Twyford is in the flightpath for Heathrow Airport – said they were lucky not to have been killed by the plummeting slab of ice.

They added that a passerby or a driver could have been struck dead if the missile had landed on the road.

“If it had happened in the open and landed on someone, it would have been a fatality,” Richard said.


Damaged: The large slab of ice apparently smashed into one of the family’s bedrooms, leaving cracks in the ceiling

“Imagine what could have happened if it had gone through the roof of a car going down the motorway.

“Coming through at that speed, it certainly could have killed someone. It gives you cause for thought.”

The Burts said their problem was exacerbated by their insurance company saying nobody was available to fix the problem – despite them paying extra for an emergency cover policy.

Instead, they claimed it was left to their local fire brigade to patch up the damage and confirm the water and electric systems at their house were still fine to use.

Richard – who, with his wife, acts as a carer for his parents after their health deteriorated last month – said the elderly couple wouldn’t have been able to deal with the stress of handling the insurance claim.

Mrs Burt has Parkinson’s disease and Richard said he had been left disappointed by what he claimed was a lack of action from his parents’ insurance company, Halifax – whose slogan is ‘the people who give you extra’.


Possible cause? The Burt’s home in Twyford, Berkshire, is in the flightpath for Heathrow

The 60-year-old claimed they had to “haggle long and hard to get them to agree to give a sum of money”, which the family will be passing on to firefighters who came out to help.

“We contacted Halifax, who provide the emergency house insurance cover. Unfortunately, their subcontractors were unable to attend,” he added.

“Because of [this], and with vulnerable parents and not knowing the state of the damage, we had to call the local fire service, who were brilliant.”

The block of ice, measuring around two feet in length, reportedly crashed through the roof of the Burts’ home in Wagtail Close at around 8.30am on Sunday.

Richard said: “We heard this almighty crash and thought something had fallen over in one of the adjacent rooms.

“It was just a mystery for two or three minutes. We didn’t know which room it had occurred in.

“I had been up in the loft the previous day and wondered if I’d left a suitcase on its side and it had fallen over, but my wife saw this big crack in the ceiling.

“Dad just somehow put two and two together very quickly and thought that it was ice from a passing aeroplane. I went out to the garden and could see there was a hole in the roof.

“I don’t know where the idea came from but for someone of 83 it was a very sharp, perceptive observation.”

The trapdoor into the loft had wedged shut so the family were unable to go upstairs and find out what had fallen through the roof.

Richard said: “I could see there was water dripping down the back bedroom ceiling. We had no idea what damage had been done to the water or the electrics, or what debris could have been there.”

Firefighters from Wokingham fire station went to the house at around 1pm after Richard’s fruitless attempts at getting engineers provided by Halifax to come out and inspect the problem.

He said: “Other than the clean break in the roof tiles there was no collateral damage. They demonstrated it was ice that caused the hole in the ceiling, which has been sagging gradually ever since.

“I think it was a first for them.”

The Burts’ home is under the Heathrow flight path.

Richard, who along with his wife had been working as a teacher in the Caribbean until his parents’ health worsened, said he had written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to suggest airlines ‘should contribute to some kind of insurance cover for these kind of events’.

It is not known if the block was formed by ice accumulating on the outside of the plane or if it came from the sewage system of an aircraft.

The melted block of ice has been kept in a kitchen bowl so that the water can be tested.

A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax, told the Mirror Online: “We are very sorry that on this occasion our service fell below our usual standards.

“A personal claims consultant has contacted Mr and Mrs Burt and is visiting at 4.30pm today, along with a contractor who will assess the necessary repairs.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/elderly-couple-shocked-after-block-7213082

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Patrick McLoughlin hints that EU referendum could delay runway decision, even beyond this summer

One of the many omissions by the Airports Commission, in its analysis of whether a runway should be built, and its recommendation, is the impact of the UK leaving the EU. It was not considered.  Clearly, if the UK did leave Europe after a referendum, there would be complicated economic impacts – which would take years to work through.  Now the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, speaking in an interview on LBC, has said there could indeed be a delay in the government making a decision due to the referendum and the uncertainty about that.  Asked when there would be a decision, he replied: “I hope later this year. We have said we would hope to move some way by the summer of this year.”  And he went on:  “There’s lots of other things which are going on in the political spectrum – if there’s a referendum this summer, and the like. But I would hope by the summer of this year we will be able to make progress.” There is no mention at all of the issue in the Airports Commission’s final report in July 2015 nor in the many supporting documents, nor in its interim report, in December 2013. David Cameron has said the EU referendum will happen by the end of 2017. It may happen as early as June or July 2016. 
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EU referendum could delay airport runway decision, hints Patrick McLoughlin

A final decision on a new runway for the South East of England could be further delayed by the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hinted.

Mr McLoughlin said he hoped the Government would finally make its choice between expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick by the summer, but added that the referendum was one of a number of issues competing for ministers’ attention in the months ahead.

Speaking to LBC radio, the Transport Secretary denied that last year’s postponement of the runway decision was designed to delay the contentious verdict until after the election of the new London mayor in May.

Patrick McLoughlin insisted that the upcoming mayoral election would not have any bearing on the runway decision

Asked when the issue would finally be resolved, Mr McLoughlin said: “I hope later this year. We have said we would hope to move some way by the summer of this year.”

But he added: “There’s lots of other things which are going on in the political spectrum – if there’s a referendum this summer, and the like. But I would hope by the summer of this year we will be able to make progress.”

A decision on a possible third runway at Heathrow was deferred last month after ministers decided more work was needed on its impact on air quality, noise and carbon emissions.

Mr McLoughlin insisted that the upcoming mayoral election “didn’t have any bearing” on the decision, pointing out that ministers had known of Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith’s opposition to a third runway for some time.

The Transport Secretary also revealed that he has told Cabinet colleagues to set off earlier for work in response to traffic delays in Westminster which some motorists blame on mayor Boris Johnson’s introduction of new bike lanes in a set of “cycle superhighways”.

Asked if his colleagues had complained about the impact of the roadworks, Mr McLoughlin said: “Those conversations have to stay with me. They can moan, but I just tell them to leave a bit earlier.”

Mr McLoughlin said he had had “some interesting exchanges” with the mayor over the superhighway plan, but denied giving Mr Johnson a dressing-down over the disruption.

“(It was) not a ticking off, because he is the mayor, he has got his own electorate, he believes fully in what he is doing,” he told presenter Nick Ferrari.

David Cameron has made clear his intention to offer Mr Johnson a ministerial job after he leaves City Hall in May, but Mr McLoughlin declined to speculate on where he might be going.

“Who knows?” said the Transport Secretary. “I’m not sure Boris knows on that one, and I’m certainly not going to get into that.

“Boris is a big enough character to look after himself.”

The Transport Secretary also described the award of asylum status to a migrant who walked through the Channel Tunnel last August as “a surprising decision”.

“I’m not responsible for the court’s decisions,” he said. “There have been a lot of other measures now taken to prevent people getting into the Tunnel.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3409876/EU-referendum-delay-airport-runway-decision-hints-Patrick-McLoughlin.html

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From the FT report

Mr McLoughlin said there would be a decision on London airport capacity later this year but that the Volkswagen emissions scandal had complicated some of the environmental calculations.

“There’s a bit more work to do on air quality and other issues around Gatwick as well,” he said. He insisted a decision would be taken in good time, but that the government was keen to make sure it avoided any potential judicial reviews over the issue.

The government’s foot-dragging on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick is an embarrassment for George Osborne, whose “we are the builders” Tory conference speech last year was supposed to herald a tough new stance on infrastructure projects.

“Building doesn’t come easy, especially when it comes to new homes and the infrastructure this country needs,” he said. “Where would Britain be if we had never built railways or runways, power stations or new homes?”

However, a decision to wait until after the EU referendum could have other knock-on effects, and potentially result in an even longer delay depending on the outcome, warn experts.

“What if the vote is a ‘no’ to staying in Europe? The airports commission’s economic models made no analysis of ‘in or out’. Something as significant as leaving the EU would have to be considered in long-term demand forecasts . . . so those models would have to be re-run,” said Alistair Watson, head of planning at law firm Taylor Wessing.

In general, more delays are likely to result in a loss of momentum. It has already given Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, a new opportunity to lobby for expansion.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/40b38230-c101-11e5-9fdb-87b8d15baec2.html#axzz3y3GmD6lE


 

See also

The UK’s EU referendum: Everything you need to know

  • 19 January 2016 (BBC)

The UK is set to have a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether or not to remain a member of the European Union.

What is happening?

The Conservatives’ election manifesto promised to hold a referendum (a nationwide vote) on whether or not the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. They won the election so it’s all systems go.

What is a referendum?

A referendum is basically a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.

When will the EU referendum happen?

The one thing we know for sure is that Prime Minister David Cameron has said it will happen by the end of 2017. The most likely times of the year for referendums are generally May or September, and some people – including, it is said, the prime minister himself – think it should be held as soon as possible. There had been suggestions that it could be held in May 2016, to coincide with elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London, rather than waiting for 2017 – but the government has ruled that out and June or July 2016 are now seen as most likely. Here is a full rundown of the likely dates and key events.

Why not just hold the referendum now?

When David Cameron announced in January 2013 his pledge to hold a referendum, a key element was that he would seek to make changes to the way the European Union works – or at least the rules covering the UK as a European Union member. Only once this renegotiation of British membership had been completed would he put the new arrangement to the public vote.

What did other parties think about the idea of a referendum?

During the election the Lib Dems and Labour both said they did not want a referendum unless there were plans to transfer more powers from the UK to the EU. The SNP also opposed a referendum. The UK Independent Party and The Greens both backed a referendum. As already mentioned, the Conservatives won the election and the necessary legislation has gone through Parliament so parties’ focus is not on whether to hold a referendum, but which side to back.

What will the referendum question be?

The question is always crucial in any referendum. The 2013 suggestion from the Conservatives was: “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. Yes or no“. Some people thought this phrasing leaned too far towards the status quo – the current state of affairs – and the Electoral Commission, which has to approve the question, said it was not clear enough and proposed: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Downing Street and MPs have accepted the amended wording.

Read more: Does the wording of a referendum question matter?

Who will be able to vote?

British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election. Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.

What are the main changes David Cameron hopes to make?

Mr Cameron set out the four key ways he wants to change the UK’s membership of the EU in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk in November:

  • Integration: Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU’s founding ambition to forge an “ever closer union” of the peoples of Europe so it will not be drawn into further political integration
  • Benefits: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants. Specifically, ministers want to stop those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits and housing until they have been resident for four years. But the European Commission, which runs the EU, has said such a move would be “highly problematic”. Ministers have reportedly been warned by the UK’s top civil servant this could be discriminatory and any limits may be reduced to less than a year
  • Sovereignty: Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation. The UK supports a “red card” system allowing member states to scrap, as well as veto, unwanted directives. But this may only be triggered by states acting together, not the UK acting alone
  • Eurozone v the rest: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union, to ensure countries outside the eurozone are not materially disadvantaged. The UK wants safeguards that steps to further financial union cannot be imposed on non-eurozone members and the UK will not have to contribute to eurozone bailouts

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And there is much more ………. at   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887

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