Extinction Rebellion have blocked a road outside Heathrow Airport by lying in front of a bulldozer. Protesters descended on the airport en masse, cycling in convoy down the M4 from Hyde Park Corner, with cyclists joining along the route, halting several lanes of traffic. Dozens of environmental activists lay down on the tarmac outside the roundabout where the Emirates plane model is located. Part of Bath Road, above Tunnel Road roundabout, was closed as the protesters got a full-size pink tractor with a “bulldozer” shovel at the front, adorned with newspaper headlines on air pollution. They lay in front of it, as a reminder to Boris Johnson, that he had said he “would lie down in front of the bulldozers” to block the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway (and has since gone very quiet on the matter…) The protest was part of Extinction Rebellion’s Christmas “12 Days of Crisis” campaign pressuring party leaders to take effective action on climate, in the run up to the election on 12th December. The Metropolitan Police said a Section 14 order was imposed allowing the protest until 3.30pm, after which time activists “run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted.”
Extinction Rebellion Heathrow protest: Activists stage ‘lie in’ in front of pink ‘bulldozer’
By EWAN SOMERVILLE (Evening Standard)
8th November 2019
Extinction Rebellion have blocked a road outside Heathrow Airport by lying in front of a bulldozer.
Dozens of environmental activists lay down on the tarmac outside the transport hub on Sunday afternoon amid high police presence, blocking two lanes.
Part of Bath Road, above Tunnel Road roundabout, was closed as they assembled a full-size pink tractor with a “bulldozer” shovel at the front, strewn with newspaper headlines on air pollution.
Protesters descended on the airport earlier en masse, cycling in convoy down the M4 with a makeshift “bulldozer” tricycle, halting several lanes of traffic.
The activists staged a ‘lie in’ on a busy dual carriageway next to Heathrow Airport (Extinction Rebellion London)
They are protesting plans to build a third runway at Heathrow next year, forming part of XR’s 12 Days of Crisis campaign pressuring party leaders before the country goes to the polls.
Posting a video of the activists cycling down the arterial road, Extinction Rebellion London tweeted: “We made an actual cycle superhighway on M4 to bring @BorisJohnson a message: Keep your word – scrap Heathrow expansion. For the people of Uxbridge, for life.”
Earlier they set off from Hyde Park corner at 10.30am, planning to block the Cromwell Road junction in Earls Court at 11am, Hammersmith at 11.30am, Gunnersbury roundabout under the M4 flyover at 12 noon.
A Section 14 order was imposed allowing the protest until 3.30pm on Sunday, after which time activists “run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted,” the Metropolitan Police said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and other politicians were invited to the “lie in”, which XR said was designed to “act out the future destruction” of a third Heathrow runway.
The controversial runway, given the green light last year, has faced repeated criticism by environmental campaigners and MPs, amid concern over financial and environmental issues.
The ‘bulldozer’ shovel was emblazoned with newspaper headlines on air pollution (Extinction Rebellion London)
The Extinction Rebellion “12 days of crisis” campaign is piling pressure on politicians of all parties to make “climate and ecological emergency the defining issue of this general election”.
Members have been instructed to launch an “election rebellion”, including staging “mock emergencies”. Earlier this week a demonstrator “glued” himself to the Lib Dems’ campaign battle bus.
They are urging politicians to sign a “Three Demands Bill”, demanding that those in power “tell the truth”, “act now” and take the fight “beyond politics”. Action will continue until the election eve.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We respect the right to peaceful protest and agree with the need to act on climate change, but we do not agree with any activity which impacts the operation of the airport.
“We are working closely with the authorities to ensure no impact is experienced.”
A local resident, who faces the possible destruction of their village and compulsory purchase of their home, if the runway was built, was overjoyed to see the arrival of the protest:
“Hundreds turned up in our village today! Wow! It was an absolutely fantastic protest on the bridge at Heathrow! I can’t believe how many people cycled here from London! All law abiding, peaceful, good natured, fun – caterers fed everyone, there was music, press, banners, handouts, a Bulldozer was escorted there by the police, they had their lie-in photos, speeches, dancing … and then they left. What a credit to Extinction Rebellion!”
Extinction Rebellion protestors say mass ‘lie-in’ at Heathrow is ‘warning shot’ and vow to get arrested at next protest if third runway goes ahead
Protestors descended on Heathrow today to protest controversial Third Runway
Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of the bulldozers when elected MP in 2015
The climate activists asked him to join their protest but he did not take them up
Referencing his comments, the demonstrators lay down in front of a bulldozer
By JACK NEWMAN (Mail online)
8th December 2019
Extinction Rebellion protestors have performed a mass lie-in in front of a bulldozer at Heathrow after cycling there to protest the controversial Third Runway.
The climate activists are both demonstrating the future damage which will be caused by the project and making reference to Boris Johnson who said upon his election in 2015 that he would lie down in front of a bulldozer with John McDonnell to protest the expansion.
A spokesperson said it was a ‘gentle warning shot’ against the Third Runway, saying their actions will be more extreme if it goes ahead.
Earlier, footage taken by one of the participants of the demonstration of the cycle ride towards the airport showed the large group passing through red lights.
Police cyclists can be seen escorting the protestors and one warns the jogger to get off the road, saying: ‘You’re gonna have to be careful mate, you’re going to get hit.’
Protestors from Extinction Rebellion performed a ‘Bulldozer lie-in’ on Bath Road, above the Tunnel Road roundabout
They acted out the ‘future destruction’ that bulldozers will cause, when they begin building the controversial Third Runway
One of the bikes was even designed to look like a bulldozer for today’s protest.
When the cyclists arrived at the airport, they performed a ‘bulldozer lie-in’ and acted out the future destruction bulldozers will cause when they begin building the controversial Third Runway.
Johnson and McDonnell were invited to attend today’s protest by the eco activists.
Many of the protestors had the signature Extinction Rebellion symbols on flags and their clothing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was invited to today’s protest after previously making a promise he would lie in front of a bulldozer to stop the Heathrow expansion
An impromptu dance took place after the lie-in so the participants of the protest could warm up.
Back in October 2011 the Frankfurt airport 3rd runway opened. It was greeted with huge anger, because residents had not been informed how much new noise there would be, and that there would be noise where there previously was none. Huge protests started on Monday evenings (airports are public property in Germany, so protests can happen). These carried on with often as many as 1,000 people each week. People were devastated by the noise battering they were being subjected to. Now, 8 years later, the protesters have had their 300th protest, again with perhaps almost 1,000 people present. They say they will not give up, until there are no more protesters. “Only when no one comes, is it over.” Their complaints have not been addressed, about noise or particulate air pollution, or the health issues people are suffering – including depression. The airport is continuing to expand, with a new terminal. Its opponents now hope the increasing awareness of carbon emissions from aviation, with campaigns like Fridays for Future, will help put pressure on Frankfurt airport. There is a new campaign against domestic flights.
Slightly odd Google Translate version of this German story:
300th Frankfurt Monday demonstration against aircraft noise. “Only when no one comes, it is over!”
“Deutschland fliegt nicht” means “Germany does not fly”
Giving up is out of the question for the aircraft noise opponents: About eight years after the first protest, their 300th Monday demonstration took place at Frankfurt Airport. There are plenty of unfulfilled demands.
The participants would like to have spared the anniversary: Monday, people are coming to the Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport with posters for about eight years. They protest against the aircraft noise, ultrafine dust and the further expansion of the airport. Now the aircraft noise opponents demonstrated for the 300th time. Around 550 people counted the police. Thomas Scheffler, spokesman for the Alliance of Citizens’ Initiatives (BBI), spoke of more than 1,000 participants.
Frankfurt Airport is located in the center of the Rhine-Main conurbation, with hundreds of aircraft taking off and landing daily. This is felt by many people in the surrounding area whose houses are located in particular in the entry lanes. The circle of those concerned extends far beyond Frankfurt and Offenbach out to the neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate around Mainz. From there, cabaret artist Lars Reichow traveled to the demo on Monday evening and addressed the participants.
Demo was already bigger
At the end of 2011, when the new northwest runway went into operation, resistance had “increased explosively,” says Scheffler. At times even several thousand people came to the demos. Then it was a little quieter. The recently started construction of Terminal 3 caused new displeasure , the opponents fear thereby a further increase of the aircraft noise.
Lately, according to Scheffler, around 250 people have regularly come to the airport for the Monday demonstration. The demonstrators outraged because the new runway had led to an even greater aircraft noise. Not only the ultrafine dust endangers the health , but also the noise. He could cause cardiovascular problems and even depression.
More than a demand
For years, the BBI has called for a stop to the expansion of the airport and an extension of the no-fly ban. Currently, this is between 23.00 and 5.00 clock, which was then set in the construction of the Northwest runway. In addition, the Alliance wants the flight movements to be reduced every year and the Northwest runway to be shut down. The aircraft noise opponents are now hoping for an upswing through the climate debate. A new action, which was presented in the evening, is aimed at short-haul flights.
The initiators of the “Germany-flies-not” campaign are calling on people to refrain from private and professional domestic flights during the week from 10 to 16 February 2020. A photo campaign in Terminal 1 is planned – on a “do-nothing-do” sofa. A photo will be displayed on one of the world’s largest screens in Times Square, New York. Afterwards, the sofa, which is over two meters wide, travels through Germany. At the beginning of December there will be a sofa concert at Frankfurt Airport.
Minister is impressed
The operator of the Frankfurt airport does not disturb actions like these. “We take our responsibility for passive and active noise control in the vicinity of the airport very seriously,” said a Fraport spokesman. Hesse Transport Minister Tarek Al-Wazir (Greens) is impressed by the persistent commitment of the activists. “We’re ultimately pursuing the same goal,” he said. Hesse was able to do a lot within its capabilities – for example, with the seven-hour noise break, during which individual railways are temporarily not used, thus temporarily relieving neighboring municipalities of noise or the upper limit of noise.
For critics like Scheffler that’s not enough. The years of resistance had not been in vain, even if the construction of the new terminal, for instance, was a shadow over Monday’s demos. The most important success was that the subject of aircraft noise and particulate matter pollution is firmly anchored in public discourse today. And climate change movements such as “Fridays for Future” rekindled the debate surrounding the effects of air traffic. And the Monday demos? “Only when no one comes, it’s over.”
With the new campaign “Germany does not fly”, a nationwide campaign to waive domestic flights will be launched in February 2020. Campaign start is already next Monday at the Frankfurt airport.
“Germany Grounded”, freely translated “Germany does not fly”, “Deutschland fliegt nicht” was the message that flickered in New York’s Times Square on October 31 in big letters on the Reuters scoreboard and was seen by thousands of people in the world metropolis. This was the highly ambitious starting signal for the initiative launched by aviation noise opponents from the Rhine-Main area “Germany is not flying”, which will cause a sensation nationwide from February 2020. The aim of the campaign is to get as many people as possible to refrain from flying.
At least since the world-wide Fridays for Future protests, a debate about travel behaviour in Germany has flared up. Frequent flying is becoming more and more in the focus, because air travel damages the climate much more than bus or train travel. Although only about ten percent of the earth’s population has access to the luxury of flying, it accounts for five percent of global CO2 emissions. At nitrogen and water vapour emissions, the proportion is even higher. Germany’s largest airport also plays an important role: it handles 35 percent of domestic flights. Overall, Frankfurt Airport is one of the 15 largest airports in the world, transporting around 70 million passengers a year. Before the construction of Terminal 3 began, the last big step towards the airport extension was the opening of the Northwest Runway in 2011.
He also called the initiators of the campaign “Germany does not fly” on the plan, eight years ago the non-profit associations Stop-Fluglärm.de, headwind 2011 Rhein-Main and the initiative climate, environmental and noise protection in aviation founded and since then demonstrating with great perseverance on Monday evenings at Frankfurt Airport. After demonstrating 6,000 participants on 4 February 2012, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) tested to what extent higher departure angles for noise avoidance are possible and made an adjustment from 3 to 3.2 degrees.
Next Monday the 11.11. the aviation noise opponents propose a new chapter. During the 300th Monday demonstration in Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport, as part of the “Germany does not fly” “Deutschland fliegt nicht” campaign, flying people are to be convinced that they will be able to forego their private and business domestic flights at the latest in the action week in February.
Furthermore, it will be presented on Monday evening “when, where and how the action will reach Germany’s airports and cities by February 2020,” said Rolf Fritsch von Gegenwind 2011. In order to generate as much attention as possible, not only companies, associations, institutions and politics but also prominent “opinion leaders” should be convinced.
Thus television presenter Joko Winterscheidt and former Olympic champion Britta Steffen have publicly commented on their flight renouncement. On 11.11. The Monday demo also receives support from cabaret artist Lars Reichow, whose performance rounds off the program.
Unlike, for example, Extinction Rebellion, which was planning to block the airspace at Heathrow Airport in London with a drone blockade, [it never happened] the aviation noise activists resort to more lenient persuasive methods: “Our appeal is directed to human reason, it should encourage thought and help “Habits change,” it says in the call.
“Flying sustainably does not mean flying,” says Hans-Peter Huppert von Gegenwind in 2011, and sees himself strengthened in Chinese philosophy: “Since Confucius, “do-nothing-together “has been a strong, non-partisan and well-tested instrument.” the “Do-Nothing-together” sofa will be revealed on which the first non-fliers will be presented. This will be photographed in January 2020, among others, before the Chancellery. The initiators are expressing their disappointment at the (not yet) made changes by the politicians. Their concept: putting responsibility in the hands of individuals rather than waiting for prohibitions, ordinances and laws.
>> Official campaign start, 11.11., Frankfurt Airport, Terminal 1, from 18 o’clock Demonstration, from 18.15 Performance cabaret artist Lars Reichow, 18.40 Presentation of the campaign and online-circuit of www.deutschland-fliegt-nicht.de
The 200th Frankfurt airport Monday Demo (Montagsdemo) against the noise will be on 30th January
January 7, 2017
The 4th runway at Frankfurt was opened in October 2011. Due to re-alignment of flight paths, with thousands of people either newly overflown, or with more flights than before, there was uproar. The airport had not felt it necessary to warn people, or consult about the noise. Several thousand people started to congregate in the airport terminal every Monday evening, for a protest demo. (The airport buildings are public property, so the airport cannot prevent people gathering.). The 100th Monday demo was on 20th May 2014, when a group from the UK attended. Now the 200th Monday demo will take place on Monday 30th January, and a large crowd is expected. Politicians from the local area and from the region, as well as for Berlin, will be attending. The demands of the protesters are ultimately that the runway is closed down (though that is an ambitious, or unrealistic hope….) but they want no night flights from 10pm to 6am, no further airport expansion, and no 3rd terminal. Work to build the 3rd terminal started in October 2015, and the airport hopes it will open (first phase) in 2022. It is an astonishing achievement that Frankfurt residents have organised 200 Monday protests, all attended by many hundreds of people – sometimes several thousand. The demos are possible because people are so upset and angry about the noise burden that has been inflicted on them, reducing their quality of life.
In 2009, the German government decided to create third terminals for both Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport, in order to handle expected passenger flows of 90 million in Frankfurt by 2020 and 50 million in Munich by 2017.
The new terminal is scheduled to be built by Fraport, south of the existing terminals on the grounds of the former Rhein-Main Air Base. The new Terminal 3 is to accommodate up to 25 million passengers and will feature 75 new aircraft positions when completely constructed. An extension of the SkyLine people mover system is planned to connect the new terminal to Terminals 1 and 2 and the airport train stations.
In August 2014, the city of Frankfurt granted building permission for the first phase of Terminal 3. The groundbreaking for the new Terminal took place on 5 October 2015. Its first phase, consisting of the main building and two of the planned four piers, is planned to open by 2022 and will be able to handle 15 million additional passengers per year. Total costs are estimated at €3 billion.
Residents around Frankfurt hold their 150th huge Monday evening protest against aircraft noise
September 29, 2015
On Monday 28th September, the 150th Monday evening protest against aircraft noise, due to the new runway, took place at Frankfurt airport. The new 4th runway was opened in October 2011, to the north west of the airport, and caused not only new flight paths but changes to existing flight paths. People had not been expecting the noise problem to be so bad. As soon as the runway opened, residents starting protesting against the noise – that was stopping them sleeping, reducing their quality of life, preventing them enjoying relaxing outside under flight paths, and reducing the prices of their homes. They started protests in the airport Terminal 1 (almost) every Monday evening. These are attended by between about 600 and 3,000 people. That is an astonishing achievement, and manifestation of real anger and determination by the thousands affected by plane noise. They are concerned now that the protests are seen to be becoming routine, and there is some appetite for more radical action, especially now that work is due to start very soon on a deeply opposed 3rd airport terminal. The style of protesting may perhaps now change. In German airport buildings are public property, so protesters are entitled to congregate in the terminal.
On 26th November, Greenpeace brought a big yellow bulldozer to Uxbridge tube station, on the High Street, together with a very comfortable chaise longue, to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to make good on his 2015 promise to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that 3rd runway’. Rival local candidates were invited to do likewise; the LibDem and Labour candidates came to show their opposition to Heathrow’s plans. Boris, of course, did not. Greenpeace activists delivered leaflets around the constituency, suggesting that they ask all election candidates what they would do about the runway, and vote accordingly. Boris is thought to be be generally against the runway, but has been notable by his absence of comment on the issue lately. Greenpeace said: “Since Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway, a lot has changed. The Amazon is burning, Greenland is melting, Yorkshire has flooded and people have been spotted sunbathing in the UK in February…. we are in a climate emergency”. The 3rd runway is so obviously the sort of development the UK should NOT be building now.
Greenpeace bring bulldozer to Boris in Uxbridge
Tuesday 26th November, 2019, London.
26.11.2019 (Greenpeace UK)
This morning Greenpeace have brought a bulldozer to Uxbridge tube station, on the High Street, together with a very comfortable chaise longue, to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to make good on his 2015 promise to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway’. Rival local candidates have been invited, and the LibDem and Labour candidates have agreed to come and show their opposition to Heathrow’s plans.
The Lib Dem candidate, lying in front of the bulldozer
Greenpeace activists delivered leaflets around the constituency, and will be helping Uxbridge locals to register to vote, and letting them have their own pictures taken lying in front of the bulldozer.
Paul Morozzo, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said –
“We’re here to help people in Uxbridge, and across the UK, to get some clarity on an issue which affects all of us. When Heathrow starts to build a new runway, bulldozing through people’s homes and our climate targets, will the Prime Minister be lying in front of the bulldozer, or driving it?
“Since Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway, a lot has changed. The Amazon is burning, Greenland is melting, Yorkshire has flooded and people have been spotted sunbathing in the UK in February.
“It’s becoming more and more obvious that we are in a climate emergency and the government must cancel Heathrow’s carbon bomb. If the PM doesn’t want to explain his position here, perhaps he can explain on the party leaders’ climate debate?”
Greenpeace hope to leaflet every household in the constituency with advice to register to vote, check candidates’ position on the proposed third runway, and only vote for candidates who are clearly opposed.
Greenpeace UK Press Office – firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7865 8255
Press Officer on site – 07801 212 960
Photos and video of the Greenpeace ‘bullingdozer’ and activists in Uxbridge, updated throughout the morning –
Greenpeace are party to an appeal of a Judicial Review (JR) of the government’s Aviation National Policy Statement, together with Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, joined by the Mayor of London. Other JRs have been brought by Friends of the Earth, Plan B, and Heathrow Hub Ltd.
Boris to fight (“undeliverable”) 3rd Heathrow runway; he won’t resign over it – but would fight from within Parliament
May 13, 2015
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is now also MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, has said he would not resign as an MP if the Conservative government approved a Heathrow 3rd runway. He believes he would be better able to fight it by remaining in Parliament. Boris will now be attending the Cabinet – but he does not have a ministerial role, so he can devote his attention to his final year as Mayor. Boris has, for many years, been an outspoken opponent of a new Heathrow runway because of the highly negative impacts of noise and air pollution on Londoners. He has now said that if there was a Heathrow runway, with meeting air quality standards a very difficult challenge, there would have to be a new congestion charge zone around it. That would be the only way to tackle the traffic congestion and air pollution caused by so many extra road vehicles (as well as planes and airport vehicles). Boris said in his MP acceptance speech that he would join Zac Goldsmith and lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that 3rd runway” at Heathrow. He said a 3rd Heathrow runway was “undeliverable” and that if the Airports Commission recommended it, he hoped their report would be “filed vertically [shelved]” as others had been.
The new local group, opposed to expansion of Bristol Airport, partly on grounds of carbon emissions but also due to noise and other local impacts, has held a protest cycle ride. The group of about 70 cyclists met up close to the airport and then cycled in convoy along the busy A38. They temporarily brought roads around the airport to a halt in a protest against expansion plans, by riding in convoy to the airport and then repeatedly cycled around a roundabout close to the entrance. The lunchtime protest caused queues of between two and three miles in both directions. Unbelievably, the airport tries to claim its expansion to 12 million annual passengers by the mid 2020 will cut CO2 – as slightly fewer people would drive to London airports, if they fly from Bristol. They would in fact just fly more. The group support taking the “flight free pledge” not to fly in 2020, as a way to get people to think more carefully about travel and their lifestyle choices. The airport has submitted plans for the expansion and North Somerset Council is expected to decide on the expansion later this year.
Crowdfunding appeal: Bristol Airport is Big Enough – Help Stop Further Expansion
July 2, 2019
Bristol Airport plans to significantly increase its passenger numbers, to grow eventually to 20 million passengers per year from a current level of 8.6 million. A group of environmental campaigners and local residents are raising money – through crowdfunding – to fund an important legal challenge to the airport’s planning application, that is being dealt with by North Somerset Council. The group hopes to employ a well respected barrister, Estelle Dehon, who is expert in environment and planning law (with particular expertise in climate change matters). She would be able to legally analyse the 400 plus planning documents on the application, on the Council’s planning website, and offer campaigners and the committee expert evidence for refusal. Estelle has previously worked on the Plan B fight against Heathrow’s third runway. The coming decade is absolutely critical in averting the climate crisis that is upon us. Yet, that same decade is to be used by Bristol Airport to increase the carbon emissions of flights using the airport, by over 500,000 tonnes per year. In addition to the carbon issue, many people in Bristol would be exposed to a range of air pollution substances, including NO2 and black carbon – as well as increased noise nuisance.
The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and “rationality” of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process – or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT. In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats – as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge. There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.
HIGH COURT GIVES RULING IN HEATHROW JUDICIAL REVIEW CHALLENGES
1st May 2019 (From Teddington Action Group, TAG)Result of the Judicial Review of the Airports National Policy Statement – Observations of Neil Spurrier, one of the claimantsRegrettably all the claimants in the Heathrow Judicial review lost their claims in the High Court.
Basically, the Court decided that it was not going to consider the merits of the Airports National Policy Statement, but only whether any rules of law were broken. Although some would have different opinions, the Judges were of the view that none of the rules had yet been broken.
Full text of the judgment and the press statement are available at
While the decision is very disappointing, the Judges did emphasise that they were not commenting on the merits of the National Policy Statement. The judgment is long, stretching to over 650 paragraphs and 250 pages.
The postscript of the judgment stated that :
“There was a tendency for the substance of parties’ positions to take more of a centre stage than perhaps it should have done, in a hearing that was concerned only with the legality (and not the merits) of the ANPS”.
Similarly the press statement just issued by the Court states that:
“It must be emphasised that the court was not concerned with the merits of increasing airport capacity or of satisfying any need by way of a third runway at Heathrow“.
That is, at least, something that we can push back at Heathrow and the Government, if and when either suggests that Heathrow expansion is going full steam ahead – which it is not, without further and extensive examination in the Development Consent Order (DCO) process, from which the expansion scheme may yet fail.
It is yet to be seen whether any of the claimants will appeal.
There is the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Appeal and then on to the Supreme Court. There is some discussion of a possible “leapfrog appeal” direct to the Supreme Court, which bearing in mind that the case is of national importance and relates to the construction of the Planning Act 2008, is a possibility.
The central focus of the Government’s defence was that the National Policy Statement was only required to show that potentially the Heathrow expansion scheme was deliverable and that, in showing this possibility, the Government were only required to show that they had considered the relevant matters set out in the legislation.
Due to the considerable publicity and thought that had gone into the National Policy Statement, it was not possible (so said the Government) to say that the decision was so irrational or unreasonable that no reasonable person would have come to it – the so-called Wednesbury rules (named after the case of Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation (1948)). Ultimately the Court agreed with this. [The DfT probably was aware of the likelihood of legal challenge, and did all it could to protect itself from future challenges all through the NPS process. AW comment]
There is still much to be argued about at the Development Consent Order stage (the National Policy Statement is just a policy and not a planning consent). Clearly, air quality can only potentially be compliant, and many people think that the likelihood is that it will not be compliant, and consent should not be granted on that ground alone.
The Court declined to get involved in whether noise was unbearable now or would be unbearable in the future. The Court’s view was that to have a decibel level of 54dB LAeq did not fall foul of the Wednesbury rules, even if it was claimed that the level did breach WHO guidance.
I spent a lot of time arguing about the difference between the WHO Night-Time Noise Guidelines of 2009 and the SoNA (2014 Survey of Noise Attitudes) report of the CAA. The Court did not consider that the forum of judicial review of the National Policy Statement was the appropriate place for that discussion.
Similarly, the Court showed reluctance to become involved in air quality, particularly the claimed error in the forecast emissions from aircraft themselves. The Boroughs had argued that there was an 80% chance that the emissions near the airport would be above the permitted amount, as defined in the Appraisal of Sustainability as “High”.
The Government countered that by saying that the definitions in the Appraisal of Sustainability meant that they would be within the 10% of the limit. Either way the risk is substantial that expansion will not comply with the Air Quality Regulations.
I had argued extensively that three studies, all specially referred to by the Air Quality Expert Group of DEFRA, show that harmful ultrafine particulates and NOx from aircraft can travel for more than 20 kilometres downwind from the point of emission, rather than the 2 kilometres stated by the Government.
The amount of emissions could be 4 to 5 fold the norm under the flight paths up to 10 kilometres and even 20% above the norm at 40 kilometres from the airport. One of the surveys was at Los Angeles Airport, in which the report stated that:
“We measured at least a 2-fold increase in PN concentrations over unimpacted baseline PN concentrations during most hours of the day in an area of about 60 km2 that extended to 16 km (10 miles) downwind and a 4- to 5-fold increase to 8−10 km (5−6 miles) downwind. Locations of maximum PN concentrations were aligned to eastern, downwind jet trajectories during prevailing westerly winds and to 8 km downwind concentrations exceeded 75 000 particles/cm3, more than the average freeway PN concentration in Los Angeles.”
Evidence from Queen Mary’s University hospital was produced showing the damage caused by ultrafine particulates going deep into the blood stream and being passed down to the next generation by entering the placenta surrounding an unborn foetus. Unfortunately, the judges were having none of it at this stage. That is not to say that it cannot be raised later, but it does seem that an opportunity has been missed by the court.
Climate Change featured prominently in all the environmental arguments. Perhaps one of the more remarkable features was the defence of the Government to the claim of Plan B Earth that global warming should be kept to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels contained in the Paris Agreement and as set out in the special report of 2018 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Government argued (successfully) that as the Paris Agreement had not been adopted into domestic law, there could be no complaint that it had not been observed – the law remained as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 providing for an 80% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050, and no more.
As has been made evident by the recent demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion and the speeches of Greta Thunberg from Sweden, this may well be nothing like enough. Although this defence was successful, it may come back to haunt the Government as showing just how irresponsible it is being over climate change.
In addition, the concept of the UK signing an international treaty such as the Paris Agreement, and then dishonouring it because the government has failed to pass the treaty into domestic law, will leave a very sour taste in the mouths of many people.
This Government has criticised Donald Trump for walking away from climate change. Perhaps our government should consider the gospel according to St. Matthew chapter 7 verse 4 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?”
The Committee on Climate Change is responding on May 2nd to the Government with its advice on what level of greenhouse gas emissions reduction is required to combat climate change. It will be interesting to see how the Government reacts to that.
I had argued that climate change had not been taken into consideration sufficiently because no apportionment between airport expansion across the Country had been considered. If Heathrow expands, how can other airports expand (as they are doing and planning to do) when all the quota of greenhouse gas emissions has been taken up by Heathrow?
This cut no ice with the Judges who considered that at the National Policy stage, it was sufficient to show that climate change had been considered and that a possibility of Heathrow expansion within the greenhouse gas emissions limits had been considered (which, of course it had, since the Airports Commission had considered it, however warped one might consider the extent of the consideration).
All this does not mean that climate change will not be considered again at the Development Consent Order stage – and it almost certainly will be and the expansion scheme may well fail on that point. Extinction Rebellion may see to that.
At the end of the day the madness of expanding airport capacity in the south-east, which is already so over-crowded may have to be left to the good offices of the various campaign groups and a 16 year old school girl from Sweden. Perhaps soon, this Government with its mad transport policies, will be elected out of office and we will have some sanity brought back into life.
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“This is not a win – but not a loss.
“The judges were constrained by the legislation, stating that all these contentious matters need to be considered at the planning stage.
But the fact remains that Heathrow expansion is a bad policy – economically, as well as environmentally. It should not go ahead and won’t go ahead. It will be challenged until defeated”
John McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, who was at the High Court for the judgment said:
“The Government has got off the hook because they are not willing to recognise Paris Agreement in law. Obviously, there will now be appeals, as it is matter of common sense that Paris Agreement must be taken into account in full.”
The group, Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway said:
Campaigners’ resolve has only been strengthened following the disappointing Court judgements on the judicial reviews today.
There will be appeals against these judgements. This will create delay which is always helpful to our cause.
Importantly, the whole debate round climate change has sharpened even in the few weeks since this case was heard. Government will be under pressure to enact the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which would change the legal landscape.
Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges
Date added: May 1, 2019
The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “…it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,… Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed.”
Heathrow ruling: High Court approves third runway despite escalating climate change crisis
‘Government is kicking our children in the teeth over climate’, say campaigners following defeat
By Harry Cockburn (Independent)
The High Court has rejected a legal challenge against a controversial third runway at Heathrow Airport, despite growing alarm at the climate crisis.
Judges delivered their ruling on Wednesday following separate judicial reviews of the government’s decision to approve the plans, brought by a group of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Ahead of the ruling, Nigel Pleming QC, who was representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, said the plans could see the number of passengers using the airport rise to an estimated 132 million, an increase of 60 per cent.
The case had been brought against transport secretary Chris Grayling by local authorities and residents in London affected by the expansion and charities including Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth and Plan B.
Under current laws, the government has a legal obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050.
But the release of the Climate Change Committee’s report on Thursday will call for emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2050.
Key parts of the legal challenge against the government argued the third runway is not compatible with climate change targets in UK domestic law, and also those agreed under international obligations in the Paris agreement in 2015.
The House of Commons overwhelmingly voted in favour of the £18bn third runway plans at Heathrow last year, approving Mr Grayling’s plans by 415 votes to 119.
Responding to the airport being given the go-ahead from the High Court, Greenpeace said while the campaigners may have lost this judgment, the government is losing the argument on whether such expansion is “morally justifiable”.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK said: “Chris Grayling has won a court case over whether the third runway is legally permissible, but he’s lost the argument over whether it’s morally justifiable.
“This verdict will not reduce the impact on local communities from increased noise and air pollution, nor will it resolve Heathrow Ltd’s financial difficulties or the economic weakness in their expansion plans.
“But our main concern is allowing Heathrow, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter, to expand in the middle of a climate emergency.
“For as long as climate change remains an afterthought in government decisions they are kicking our children in the teeth.”
Speaking after the ruling, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the decision let the government “off the hook”.
Mr McDonnell said: “What I find extraordinary in the judgment is that, on the issues with regard to climate change, the government gets off the hook simply because it has not adopted the Paris agreement into UK law.
“So, even though our belief is that [the expansion] completely undermines the ability to abide by the climate change targets of the Paris agreement, because the Paris agreement is not in UK law as yet the government gets off the hook.”
Caroline Russell, the chair of the London Assembly environment committee, described the High Court decision as “devastating news”.
“Have any of the judges noticed what David Attenborough, Mark Carney, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have been saying?” she wrote on Twitter.
In a statement she said: “Although the government’s policy on Heathrow has survived this court hearing, it is still not the right course for London or the environment.
“The government’s own figures show that the extra traffic caused by expansion will worsen air pollution widely across London, shortening Londoners’ lives. At the same time, 200,000 more people will be affected by noise from an expanded Heathrow.”
The chair of the London Assembly transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon added: “It is bitterly disappointing that the High Court has made this decision. The London Assembly has long been opposed to the expansion of Heathrow – all advice from the Assembly, protestors and experts seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
“This committee has consistently raised the issue of the government’s lack of planning for improving surface transport access to Heathrow Airport, yet the situation remains largely unchanged.
“The government has persisted with this decision without proper preparation for the influx of people that would be travelling to and from Heathrow by car, train and many other means.”
Friends of the Earth today appeared to be considering a further challenge to the court judgement, and said the decision was “out of step with the world”.
“Parliament’s decision to green-light Heathrow was morally wrong, but today we believe the courts have got it legally wrong too. We are examining the judgement in detail and will consider all options,” they said.
The organisation added: “Heathrow airport is already the single biggest climate polluter in the UK, expansion will only exacerbate the problem.”
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF, said: “The climate emergency is here, and yet we are acting as if we have time to waste. When the Committee on Climate Change report is published tomorrow, politicians will say that they are committed to tackling climate change. But how can they be taken seriously if they press ahead with expanding airports?”
Chris Grayling responded to the court’s judgement saying the new runway would “benefit every corner of the United Kingdom”.
He said: “The expansion of Heathrow is vital and will provide a massive economic boost to businesses and communities across the length and breadth of Britain, all at no cost to the taxpayer and within our environmental obligations.
“I welcome the court’s judgment today. It makes clear we followed a robust and legally sound process throughout.
“I now call on all public bodies not to waste any more taxpayers’ money or seek to further delay this vital project which will benefit every corner of the United Kingdom.”
In a statement a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are delighted with today’s ruling which is a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also. We are getting on with delivering the once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth, providing thousands of new jobs and an economic boost for this country and its future generations.”
The High Court findings come on the same day Mr Grayling said he was terminating contracts with three ferry companies which were too expand lorry freight capacity in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
He decided to terminate the agreements after the deadline for the UK’s departure was extended until the end of October, but the Department for Transport will still have to pay £50m for part of the value of the contracts.
The £50m bill comes on top of a £33m payment to Eurotunnel, earlier this year, to settle its legal case over the cross-Channel contracts.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald responded to Mr Grayling’s announcement saying: “His career as a minister has left a trail of scorched earth and billions of pounds of public money wasted.
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched – 700 or more? – with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
No 3rd Runway Coalition presence at the London Climate March
Heatwaves, hurricanes and wildfires make it clear: it’s time to act on climate change. As crucial UN climate talks kick off in kick off in Katowice, Poland, join us to show solidarity with environmental activists there; with those in the Global South in particular in the frontline of climate change; and with all those standing up for the future of our planet over short-term profit, against the rise of the far right and climate denial.
Here in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need.
The march sent a message to activists in Katowice, marching on 8 December
The march assembled from 12 noon outsider the Polish Embassy on Portland Place. There was a rally with speeches from 12.30 to 1.30pm. There were speeches by:
Clive Lewis MP, Labour Party
Sian Berry, co-leader, Green Party
Richard Roberts, fracking direct action campaigner whose recent prison sentence was overturned
Paul Allen, Zero Carbon Britain
Beatriz Ratton, Brazilian Women Against Fascism
Nita Sanghera, Vice President, UCU
Asad Rehman, War on Want
Anna Gretton, Extinction Rebellion
Neil Keveren, No 3rd Runway Coalition
The rally chanted in Polish, “Razem dla Klimatu” – outside the Polish Embassy. It means “Together for Climate”.
The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion. Sadly the huge model plane, made by the irrepressible Neil Keveren, had a bit of a mishap during the pouring rain all morning …. but will be fixed and will makes its debut appearance at another event soon …
The march then set off, down Regents Street, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square to Whitehall. Police held up the traffic for the marchers to pass, and shoppers watched with interest (taking thousands of photos and videos) as the marchers streamed past. There were chants, while going past the BBC in Portland Place, of “BBC, BBC, tell the truth about climate change”. Also chants of “What do we want? Climate Action. When do we want it? Now. What do we want? Climate Justice. When do we want it? Now”.
And also many times: “No ifs, no buts – No 3rd Runway”.
Some shoppers abandoned their shopping to join the march for a while. Some car drivers honked their horns in support as the march passed.
The Extinction Rebellion activists were there in force, but there was no direct action and absolutely no breaking of any laws or civil disobedience.
At the rally in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, there were speeches by
Barry Gardiner MP, Labour Party
Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth
Peter Allen, Frack Free United
Claire James, Campaign against Climate Change
After the protest, the Frack Free United Declaration against fracking was handed in, to 10 Downing Street.
The Stay Grounded network has been officially launched. It now has over 130 signatories (including the No 3rd Runway Coalition, and others in the UK) and more than 80 member organisations. Stay Grounded aims to reduce the environmentally and socially damaging impact of aviation, by stopping its fast rate of expansion across the world. The industry has privileged status in many ways, including its out-of-control increasing carbon emissions. The Stay Grounded network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable. Many non-violent actions took place in countries around the world, in a recent week of action. These were directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading not only to rising CO2 emissions, but also noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands. Around the world there are about 1200 airports planned to be built or being expanded. Stay grounded will also highlight the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, local farming communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.
In the week of action, a total of 27 actions took place in 11 countries (3 continents) to counter airport expansion and to demand a just transport system. There is a video here and more on Facebook, Twitter
There are photos of theactions here. Stay Grounded is working to spread information and understanding about the illusion of “green growth” for the aviation sector. The movement needs to build pressure on our politicians, across countries, to cut the privileges of the aviation industry.
Press Release: Stay Grounded international network launched to counter aviation
1st-12th October – 2 weeks of protest events to be held around the world
Contact: Magdalena Heuwieser & Mira Kapfinger / coordinators of Stay Grounded
1st October 2018 – This week marks the official launch of Stay Grounded, a global network of organisations and activist groups working to curb the unrestrained expansion of the aviation sector that is causing ever increasing damage to the climate and local residents. Supported by more than 100 civil society organisations, like Friends of the Earth International, the network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable.
The Stay Grounded network will organise protest events around the world in the coming two weeks to raise awareness of the ongoing massive wave of airport infrastructure expansion: They will take place in Denmark, the UK, Mexico, the Netherlands, Austria, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, Belgium, Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, France and New Zealand.
“The actions are directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading to noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands”, explains Mira Kapfinger from Stay Grounded, pointing out a map of airport conflicts. Around the world, about 1200 airports are planned to be built or being expanded. The protests will also throw a spotlight on the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, peasant communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.
Aviation Emissions and Greenwashed Climate Strategies The protests are just in time: At the end of October, International Aviation will decide on its climate strategy called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). It proclaims the goal to achieve “carbon neutral growth” after 2020 by buying cheap and ineffective carbon credits from offset projects in the Global South. These supposedly “green” projects have a record of fuelling land grabbing and human rights violations.
“Instead of assuming responsibility for the harmful impact of its reckless growth path, the industry is trying to buy its way out at the expense of vulnerable populations who are at risk of losing their livelihoods due to these offsetting projects”, Mira Kapfinger adds.
“CORSIA is not only a greenwashed cloth attempting to polish aviation. It is also being used as a diversion tactic to block any effective regulation of the sector”, explains Magdalena Heuwieser from Stay Grounded. The European aviation industry is recently trying to lobby EU officials to abolish existing regulation of aviation emissions, like the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and ticket taxes, by pointing to an alleged overlap with CORSIA.
Mira Kapfinger from Stay Grounded said: “This year’s summer of record temperatures, droughts and forest fires, has been another warning sign that it is now most urgent for us all to resist the growing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.” Aviation is by far the mode of transport with the biggest climate impact, as well as being one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Stay Grounded demands effective regulations on aviation
Stay Grounded rejects greenwashed aviation strategies like CORSIA, carbon trading and tanked biofuels and instead fosters effective solutions to the climate crisis and rising aviation emissions. “For decades, the aviation industry has enjoyed many privileges. For example, flight tickets and kerosene still remain untaxed, in contrast to car fuel or train tickets. Now is the time to wake up. “Techno-fixes” and offsets are illusions. Rather than fueling further expansion, air traffic urgently needs to be controlled and reduced, before we get locked in to their unaffordable emissions. This process needs to be socially just,” Mira Kapfinger concludes.
Stay Grounded will send their position paper together with an introductory letter to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) on October 26th, just before the start of their next Council meeting. In this meeting they will decide on the criteria for carbon offsets and biofuels – the main pillars of the international climate strategy CORSIA, and hugely dangerous because they don’t help fight climate change and push land grabbing. Find more information on the current international policy debates and problems involved in this article and in the study “The Illusion of Green Flying” (GE, EN, FR).
Stay Grounded is encouraging people and organisations to write to their environment, climate change and transport ministries, asking that they make public their reservations about the ICAO CORSIA scheme, (which is a token scheme to give the impression of cutting aviation carbon emissions, while in reality doing the least possible, and not having an effective impact on aviation CO2 for decades). Letters should be sent before 1st December. Though it is unlikely that the CORSIA scheme will be stopped, or made effective, it is important that EU states express their concerns about CORSIA so it does not lead to the EU ETS regulation being stopped, and replaced by the (ineffective) CORSIA. Find here the contact details of EU ministers and a new CORSIA briefing by Transport & Environment, and find here some bullet points that can be used for your letter.
On Saturday 9th, campaigners from the Vote NO Heathrow campaign started a hunger strike, to draw attention to the huge risk that MPs might vote in favour of a 3rd Heathrow runway. The vote is likely in the next two weeks. Over 30 campaigners gathered outside the London HQ of the Labour Party in Victoria Street, for the start of the hunger strike by 5 of them. They intend to continue not to eat for as long as their health permits, and if possible until the vote in Parliament. Earlier in the week, 8 campaigners were arrested outside the building for using chalk spray on the pavement and the glass windows, to highlight their message. The vote of the Labour party is crucial, and it is hoped that MPs will appreciate that the runway fails the 4 tests Labour has set for it, and impose a 3-line whip. The Tories may impose a 3-line whip in favour of the runway. The Vote NO Heathrow campaign wants as many people as possible to write to their MP – of whichever party – to ask them to vote against the runway. There are many important arguments, why the runway should be opposed (more details below) but these could be summarised as economic problems, UK region problems, noise, air pollution and increased carbon emissions.
A three-line whip is the strongest indication a party can give to its MPs on how to vote in Parliament. If a Labour MP “defies” the three-line whip there can be consequences such as being removed from posts. The Conservative government is expected to impose a three-line whip in favour of the airport’s expansion, which may cause problems for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson .
The Vote No Heathrow campaign says:
The Heathrow expansion will be a disaster. It has failed all of Labour’s impacts tests on climate change and air and noise pollution. The party must uphold its values of ‘social and economic equality’ by firmly voting against the expansion. More than 30 campaigners will be outside the Labour HQ on Saturday and we would love you to join us in our fast, either in person or in solidarity.
The Vote No Heathrow campaign are calling on everyone to write and speak to their local MP and urge them to vote against the expansion. Even with strong signals from party leaders, many MPs are considering rebelling on the issue based on their constituents views. We must make sure your voice in his heard in this debate.
There is some information at the bottom of this webpage, with reasons why MPs should vote against the runway, to help people with their letter or email to their MP.
Anti-Heathrow protesters stage dramatic hunger strike against third runway outside Labour Party office
Many have pledged to go on with the strike until their demands are met
By Qasim Peracha (Get West London)
10 JUN 2018
A group of anti- Heathrow expansion protesters, from the Vote NO Heathrow campaign, staged a hunger strike outside the offices of the Labour Party .
The desperate protesters are asking for the party to instruct its MPs to vote against the expansion of the airport when the Commons gets the final say in the coming weeks.
At least 5 of the protesters hope to continue their hunger strike and civil disobedience protest indefinitely, until the Labour party impose a three-line whip against expansion.
The protesters gathered outside the Victoria Street headquarters of the Labour party to make their demands on Saturday (June 9).
Some of the hunger strikers were wearing T-shirts reading “Love Labour: Hate Heathrow”, and placards reading “Vote No Heathrow” and “Hunger Strike”.
The “civil disobedience” has come after the government’s long-awaited National Policy Statement on Airports was published on Tuesday (June 5), and the cabinet voted to go ahead with the construction of a third runway , north-west of Heathrow’s current airfield.
The protesters had also been at the Labour office a day before the announcement, and some were even arrested as police descended on the offices.
Robin, a 26-year-old Londoner who is on the hunger strike, said: “We are taking this drastic action because this month there is a ‘make or break’ vote on Heathrow in Parliament.
“Everyone needs to tell their MP to vote against this disastrous project. The new runway will accelerate global warming as climate breakdown gets catastrophic and bulldoze hundreds of homes during a UK housing crisis.”
The runway would stretch over the M25, but would still require several homes to be destroyed and is likely to cause an increase in noise to some residents currently not affected by aircraft noise, opponents say.
The protesters are concerned about the likely impact of expansion to air pollution in London, as well as the need for enhanced infrastructure so additional traffic does not impact their ability to get about the city.
The protesters also sat outside the Unite union buildings; TUC, Community and BALPA have all expressed support for the 3rd runway, hoping there will be jobs.
A three-line whip is the strongest indication a party can give to its MPs on how to vote in Parliament. If a Labour MP “defies” the three-line whip there can be consequences such as being removed from posts.
The Conservative government is expected to impose a three-line whip in favour of the airport’s expansion, which may cause problems for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson .
BORIS VOICES DOUBTS OVER WHETHER THIRD RUNWAY WILL BE BUILT AT HEATHROW
The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP famously promised to “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway”, speaking to protesters.
As a vocal opponent of the third runway, he could face having to resign his senior cabinet post over the issue, as convention dictates any cabinet minister must resign before voting against the government on a three-line whip.
Alex Thompson, a spokesperson for Vote No Heathrow, said: “A new runway will accelerate catastrophic climate breakdown killing millions around the world.
“Those who stand to gain from the new runway are limited to a wealthy minority of frequent flyers; the rest will suffer a devastated climate, bulldozed local homes and even more toxic air. All progressive MPs must oppose expansion of Heathrow.
“We are calling on MPs and influential unions like Unite to look at the bigger picture: climate breakdown is being driven by wealthy people, who fly, and the impacts are hitting poorer people first and worst, who do not fly.
“We want a stable planet with stable work, not a broken planet with insecure work; that starts with opposing Heathrow expansion.”
Environmental campaigner Tilly Gifford wants a public inquiry to investigate claims that she was “targeted” by undercover police officers who wanted her to spy on fellow activists. In 2009, Tilly was working with Plane Stupid, which was protesting about the environmental damage done by airport expansion. She told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland that she was arrested during a protest at Aberdeen Airport and police wanted her to feed them intelligence on the group. They wanted information about the groups she worked with, the individuals, and what they were planning – in exchange for cash. She has tapes of the conversations. Now 9 years later she is at the forefront of attempts to win a judicial review to force either the UK government to extend its inquiry – or have the Scottish government set up its own. She says all her actions were totally peaceful and non-violent, even if some laws were violated, and: “The question here is not about undercover policing, it is about undercover political policing.” “We know now that up to thousands of campaigns across the whole of the UK, in Scotland as well, have been targeted by undercover political policing and it is time for a full public inquiry.” It is likely that campaigns against Heathrow’s expansion have been targeted too.
Undercover police are running a network of hundreds of informants inside protest organisations who secretly feed them intelligence in return for cash, according to evidence handed to the Guardian.
The dramatic disclosures are revealed in almost three hours of secretly recorded discussions between covert officers claiming to be from Strathclyde police, and an activist from the protest group Plane Stupid, whom the officers attempted to recruit as a paid spy after she had been released on bail following a demonstration at Aberdeen airport last month.
Matilda Gifford, 24, said she recorded the meetings in an attempt to expose how police seek to disrupt the legitimate activities of climate change activists. She met the officers twice; they said they were a detective constable and his assistant. During the taped discussions, the officers:
• Indicate that she could receive tens of thousands of pounds to pay off her student loans in return for information about individuals within Plane Stupid.
• Say they will not pay money direct into her bank account because that would leave an audit trail that would leave her compromised. They said the money would be tax-free, and added: “UK plc can afford more than 20 quid.”
• Accept that she is a legitimate protester, but warn her that her activity could mean she will struggle to find employment in the future and result in a criminal record.
• Claim they have hundreds of informants feeding them information from protest organisations and “big groupings” from across the political spectrum.
• Explain that spying could assist her if she was arrested. “People would sell their soul to the devil,” an officer said.
• Warn her that she could be jailed alongside “hard, evil” people if she received a custodial sentence.
The meetings took place in a Glasgow police station last month and in a supermarket cafe on Tuesday. Gifford used a mobile phone and device sewn into her waistcoat to record what they described as a “business proposal” that she should think of as a job.
They intimated that in return for updates on Plane Stupid’s plans she could receive large sums of money in cash.
When lawyers acting for Plane Stupid contacted Strathclyde police this week to establish the identities of the detective constable, they were initially told by the human resources department there was no record of his name.
But when the Guardian contacted the force, they acknowledged officers had had meetings with Plane Stupid activists.
In a statement last night, assistant chief constable George Hamilton said the force had “a responsibility to gather intelligence”, and such operations were conducted according to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The force would not comment on the identity of the officers.
“Officers from Strathclyde police have been in contact with a number of protesters who were involved with the Plane Stupid protests including Aberdeen airport,” he said. “The purpose of this contact has been to ensure that any future protest activity is carried out within the law and in a manner which respects the rights of all concerned.”
Gifford’s lawyer, Patrick Campbell, said: “I have very considerable concerns about these events. There appears to be a covert operation that is running in some way with, or using, Strathclyde police’s name. There appears to be a concerted effort to turn protesters to informants and possibly infiltrate peaceful protest movements.
He added: “The methods employed are disturbing, and more worrying yet is the lack of any clearly identifiable body responsible for this. These individuals seem to have some kind of police support or at the very least connections with the police – the access to police stations confirms that – but my concern is the lack of accountability and the threat to the individual and her right to protest.”
Gifford intended to meet the officers for a third time on Thursday, taking a lawyer with her. But the officers did not appear at the rendezvous. However, she said she was later approached by the detective constable, who said he was disappointed in her. The man got into a car, leaving Gifford feeling shaken and intimidated.
She said last night that the initial approach from the officers was “an opportunity that fell out of the sky”. She added: “Recording them seemed like the obvious thing to do. I was keen to find out what they had to offer, what they wanted to find out, and feed that back to the group in case other members of Plane Stupid were approached.”
In a statement, Plane Stupid said: “Our civil liberties were invaded and our right to peaceful protest called into question simply to defend the interests of big business.”
It has finally been announced, by Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister of France) that the proposed new airport for Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), has been abandoned. President Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe have buried the project, which has been seriously criticised for its cost and its environmental consequences. The leaders see the airport as impossible to build because of the fierce opposition by around half the population, so it just a constant source of division. Instead the executive backs re-development of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport, south of the city of Nantes, which will be modernised and have its runway lengthened. That would help a bit to lessen the noise from the flight path that goes over part of the city. The Prime Minister has also announced an expansion of the airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques and a development of high-speed rail lines between the West and Paris airports. Opponents of the NDDL scheme are jubilant – the battle has lasted almost 50 years, and they almost lost on several occasions. But Edouard Philippe said the “zone to defend” (ZAD) will be cleared, so it is no longer a lawless area with blocked roads etc. Those occupying it will have to leave, and the land be returned to agricultural use.
“Notre-Dame-des-Landes is the airport of the division,” said Edouard Philippe Wednesday, to justify the abandonment of the project. More surprisingly, the evacuation will take place only in the spring.
No plane will take off at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe on Wednesday buried the project of new airport Nantes, criticized for its cost and its environmental consequences. “I see today that the conditions are not met to carry out the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, said the Prime Minister from the Elysée, at the exit of a Council of Ministers which lasted until 13:30. Such a project […] can not be done in a context of heightened opposition between two almost equal parts of the population […] Notre-Dame-des-Landes, I can see it, is the airport of the division “ .
This is a redevelopment of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport that has retained the executive. He will see his current equipment modernized, then his track lengthened “to reduce noise pollution in Nantes,”promised Edouard Philippe. The Prime Minister has also announced an expansion of the airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques and a development of high-speed rail lines between the West and Paris airports.
While the supporters of the airport denounce a “retreat” of the State against the occupants of the “zone to defend” (ZAD), Edouard Philippe promised the “end of this zone of lawlessness” : “The roads must be returned to free movement, obstacles removed, circulation restored. Otherwise, the police will proceed to the necessary operations “ . On the rest of the area, “illegal occupants will have to leave by the next spring or be expelled” . After which “the lands will return to their agricultural vocation” .
With this decision, the Head of State and his Prime Minister put an end to fifty years of procrastination around a project conceived under the Thirty Glorious, never launched, but never buried until today. Returning an unflattering image to unresolved public authorities, the file also symbolized the limits of French-style spatial planning. “For fifty years, the project was successively decided, abandoned, relaunched, re-examined, reconfigured, postponed , “ said the Prime Minister. Denouncing, in a series of allusions to the five-year Hollande, “the indecision of successive governments” .
Paradox: this denouement, major victory for the green current, will have been carried by two officials rather favorable, at the origin, with the new airport. “My first choice would have been to immediately allow this project,” did not hide Edouard Philippe Wednesday. As for Emmanuel Macron, he said during the presidential campaign his intention to “enforce” the consultation held in Loire-Atlantique in June 2016, where 55% of voters had supported the airport project. A few days later, however, the candidate said he wanted “one last time look at things”, and in particular the idea of a redevelopment of Nantes-Atlantique. After coming to power, neither the Head of State nor the Prime Minister had expressed any wish for the future of the project. Retreating for eight months behind a perfectly fair consultation .
By June 2016, the executive had entrusted three experts with a “mediation mission”. In a report submitted in December , it had weighed the construction of the new airport and the expansion of the current platform in Nantes. But gave the advantage to the second in terms of cost. At the beginning of January, in the wake of this report, Edouard Philippe had multiplied the meetings with local elected officials, favorable or opposed to the site. And made last Saturday, a surprise visit in Loire-Atlantique, without revealing anything of its intentions.
The decision opens two fronts for the executive. Perhaps facilitated by the abandonment of the project, the evacuation of the ZAD, even if it is pushed back in the spring, will still be a delicate operation. In a statement released Tuesday, the occupiers oppose “any expulsion of those who have come to live in recent years in the grove to defend and who want to continue to project their lives and activities . ” Available on the ZAD website, a document lists the locations and times of the rallies to be organized from the beginning of the expulsion, all over France. And especially in Nantes and Rennes, where police reinforcements have already been planned.
Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe will also have to deal with the discontent of local elected representatives, who are overwhelmingly in favor of a new airport. On Wednesday, the PS chairman of the Loire-Atlantique departmental council, Philippe Grosvalet, denounced a decision that “tramples the communities [and] the inhabitants” of the department. “Betrayal of the Great West and denial of democracy, ” added on Twitter the Mayor PS of Nantes, Johanna Rolland. While the president of the Pays de la Loire LR, Christelle Morançais, lamented “the victory of the zadistes on the rule of law.” A trial that the Prime Minister will try to disarm, receiving the parliamentarians of Loire-Atlantique to Matignon, this afternoon.
Aucun avion ne décollera à Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Emmanuel Macron et Edouard Philippe ont enterré mercredi le projet de nouvel aéroport nantais, critiqué pour son coût et ses conséquences environnementales. «Je constate aujourd’hui que les conditions ne sont pas réunies pour mener à bien le projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a déclaré le Premier ministre depuis l’Elysée, à la sortie d’un Conseil des ministres qui aura duré jusqu’à 13h30. Un tel projet […] ne peut se faire dans un contexte d’opposition exacerbée entre deux parties presque égales de la population […] Notre-Dame-des-Landes, je le constate, c’est l’aéroport de la division».
C’est un réaménagement de l’aéroport actuel de Nantes-Atlantique qu’a retenu l’exécutif. Celui-ci verra ses équipements actuels modernisés, puis sa piste allongée «pour réduire les nuisances sonores à Nantes», a promis Edouard Philippe. Le Premier ministre a en outre annoncé un agrandissement de l’aéroport de Rennes-Saint-Jacques et un développement des lignes ferroviaires à grande vitesse entre l’Ouest et les aéroports de Paris.
Alors que les partisans de l’aéroport dénoncent un «recul» de l’Etat face aux occupants de la «zone à défendre» (ZAD), Edouard Philippe a promis la «fin de cette zone de non-droit» : «Les routes doivent être rendues à la libre circulation, les obstacles retirés, la circulation rétablie. À défaut, les forces de l’ordre procèderont aux opérations nécessaires». Sur le reste de la zone, «les occupants illégaux devront partir d’eux-mêmes d’ici le printemps prochain ou seront expulsés». Après quoi «les terres retrouveront leur vocation agricole».
Avec cette décision, le chef de l’Etat et son Premier ministre mettent un terme à cinquante ans de tergiversations autour d’un projet conçu sous les Trente Glorieuses, jamais lancé, mais jamais enterré jusqu’à ce jour. Renvoyant une image peu flatteuse à des pouvoirs publics irrésolus, le dossier symbolisait aussi les limites de l’aménagement du territoire à la française. «Durant cinquante ans, le projet a été successivement décidé, abandonné, relancé, rééxaminé, reconfiguré, remis à plus tard», a souligné le Premier ministre. Dénonçant, dans une série d’allusions au quinquennat Hollande, «l’indécision des gouvernements successifs».
Paradoxe : ce dénouement, victoire majeure pour le courant écologiste, aura été porté par deux responsables plutôt favorables, à l’origine, au nouvel aéroport. «Mon premier choix aurait été d’autoriser sans délai ce projet», n’a pas caché Edouard Philippe mercredi. Quant à Emmanuel Macron, il avait dit pendant la campagne présidentielle son intention de «faire respecter» la consultation organisée en Loire-Atlantique en juin 2016, où 55% des votants avaient soutenu le projet d’aéroport. Quelques jours plus tard, le candidat avait cependant déclaré vouloir «une dernière fois regarder les choses», et notamment l’idée d’un réaménagement de Nantes-Atlantique. Après leur arrivée au pouvoir, ni le chef de l’Etat ni le Premier ministre n’avaient exprimé le moindre vœu sur l’avenir du projet. Se retranchant, durant huit mois, derrière une consultation voulue parfaitement équitable.
Dès juin 2016, l’exécutif avait confié à trois experts une «mission de médiation». Dans un rapport remis en décembre, celle-ci avait mis en balance la construction du nouvel aéroport et l’agrandissement de l’actuelle plate-forme nantaise. Mais donnait l’avantage à la deuxième en termes de coût. Début janvier, dans la foulée de ce rapport, Edouard Philippe avait multiplié les rencontres avec les élus locaux, favorables ou opposés au chantier. Et effectué, samedi dernier, une visite surprise en Loire-Atlantique, sans rien y dévoiler de ses intentions.
La décision ouvre deux fronts pour l’exécutif. Peut-être facilitée par l’abandon du projet, l’évacuation de la ZAD, même si elle est repoussée au printemps, n’en sera pas moins une opération délicate. Dans un communiqué publié mardi, les occupants s’opposent à «toute expulsion de celles et ceux qui sont venus habiter ces dernières années dans le bocage pour le défendre et qui souhaitent continuer à y projeter leurs vies et leurs activités». Consultable sur le site de la ZAD, un document énumère les lieux et horaires des rassemblements à organiser dès le début de l’expulsion, partout en France. Et notamment à Nantes et Rennes, où des renforts policiers ont d’ores et déjà été projetés.
Emmanuel Macron et Edouard Philippe devront également gérer le mécontentement des élus locaux, très majoritairement favorables à un nouvel aéroport. Mercredi, le président PS du conseil départemental de Loire-Atlantique, Philippe Grosvalet, a dénoncé une décision qui «piétine les collectivités [et] les habitants» du département. «Trahison du Grand Ouest et déni de démocratie», a renchéri sur Twitter la maire PS de Nantes, Johanna Rolland. Tandis que la présidente LR des Pays de la Loire, Christelle Morançais, a déploré «la victoire des zadistes sur l’Etat de droit». Un procès que le Premier ministre s’efforcera de désarmer, en recevant les parlementaires de Loire-Atlantique à Matignon, dès cet après-midi.
The Notre-Dame-des-Landes file is coming to an end. Opened fifty years ago, it is the oldest environmental conflict in France . The airport of the discord has become the symbol, for the defenders of the environment , of the “big useless projects”. Fifty years of struggle, of stagnation, of legal battle.
The 1970s: Concord and Decentralization
It was at the end of the 1960s that the idea of an airport for the West was born, as part of the decentralization promoted by the interministerial delegation to regional planning and regional attractiveness. Nantes Atlantique Airport (formerly Château-Bougon) is considered unsuitable to accommodate the millions of passengers expected. It is a question of transatlantic flights and to land the national flagship, the Concorde.
The lands of the grove, some twenty kilometers north of Nantes and eighty kilometers south of Rennes , mainly in the town of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, were designated in 1968 as a preferential site. While the city council, like those of neighboring towns, vote in favor of the project , some farmers oppose. “We would have liked not so much,” said a resident of the town in a television report of 1974.
The first opponents created in 1972 the Association of Defense Operators concerned by the airport (Adeca). A small delegation goes to Orly (Val-de-Marne) to record airplane noises and collect testimonials from local residents. In January 1974, a prefectural decree fixed the deferred development zone (ZAD) which enabled the department to acquire some 1,200 ha (the total project area being 1,650 ha).
The airport project is put to sleep for fifteen years, because of the oil crisis and the arrival of the TGV to Nantes (1989). The idea of a third Parisian airport is promoted in 1994 and Notre-Dame-des-Landes remains in the race. In 2000, the project is reactivated by the socialist government of Lionel Jospin. In October, an interministerial committee decided to “build a new airport, replacing Nantes Atlantique, on the site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes” .
The appearance of sound exposure plans, prohibiting or limiting buildings exposed to aircraft noise, is contrary to the will of the mayor (PS) of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, to urbanize the island of Nantes. The latter is very attached to the idea of having an infrastructure equal to the major European airports. In December 2000, the Inter-communal Citizens’ Association of the populations concerned by the airport project (Acipa) was created.
In 2003, the advisory committee of the public debate is set up. Three years later, on the basis of the public declaration file (DUP), the public inquiry is organized . On February 9, 2008, the state signed the decree (for ten years) declaring public utility the construction of the new airport.
In 2009, is born the Collective of elected officials doubting the relevance of the airport (CéDpa). The summer of that year is held on the site referred a ” climate action camp “. In the wake, the first occupations are born and the ZAD is renamed “area to defend.”
The 2010s: “zadistes” against “legalistes”
In December 2010, Prime Minister François Fillon ( UMP ) signed the decree awarding the concession to the company Vinci, for a period of fifty-five years, the existing airports of Nantes Atlantique and Saint-Nazaire Montoir, as well as of the future Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The opening of the new site is scheduled for 2017. Vinci will be the victim of many actions throughout France.
Many appeals are filed by the opponents. The trials succeed and the legal battle will last for several years. In April 2012, two farmers, Michel Tarin and Gilles Denigot, went on a hunger strike in front of the prefecture of Nantes. François Hollande ensures that there will be no intervention on the area before the end of all appeals.
On October 16, 2012 in the early morning, the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault – Manuel Valls is Minister of the Interior – launches the operation “César” to evacuate the ZAD. But the violent clashes lead the government to suspend the operation. On November 17, tens of thousands of people demonstrate to reoccupy the area. A week later, the Prime Minister announced the creation of three commissions (experts, dialogue and scientists). In April 2013, the Dialogue Commission concluded that the project was valid, but called into question the compensation measures planned.
During the year 2013, the occupations multiply and many agricultural projects are born. On February 22, several tens of thousands of demonstrators, supported by some 500 tractors, parade in the center of Nantes. Violent incidents punctuate the event.
Trials and appeals continue to be chained. They are all lost by the opponents of the project. In January 2016, the district court of Nantes validates the expulsions of the inhabitants and farmers, historical opponents. Ségolène Royal, then Minister of the Environment, commissioned a study to the General Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CGEDD), which proposes, on April 5, two solutions: the airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes but with only one track on both planned, or the redevelopment of Nantes Atlantique.
On February 11, François Hollande proposes a local referendum. It will be held on the only department of Loire-Atlantique and will give, on June 26, the victory to supporters of the transfer of the airport to Notre-Dames-des-Landes (55.1% for).
In April, the European Commission classifies the dispute, initiated three years earlier, on France’s failure to comply with regulations on the environmental impacts of infrastructure projects. The administrative court of appeal of Nantes validates, it, in November, the prefectural orders – the Council of State is always seized of the recourses of the opponents.
2017-2018: the last consultations?
With the election of Emmanuel Macron in May, then the appointment of Nicolas Hulot – opponent of the airport project – at the head of the Ministry of ecological transition and solidarity, the suspense is revived. In a campaign promise, the Head of State announced that he will make a decision after having heard a final report. Three mediators are appointed on June 1 st . Mid-December, they make their work without taking advantage of the construction of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes according to the initial project or for the redevelopment of Nantes Atlantique. After consulting local elected officials, the Prime Minister reiterates that the decision will be announced before the end of January.
Notre-Dames-des-Landes : cinquante ans de batailles
Le projet de nouvel aéroport près de Nantes a suivi un très long parcours institutionnel émaillé de nombreuses confrontations sur le terrain.
Par Rémi Barroux
Le dossier Notre-Dame-des-Landes touche à sa fin. Ouvert il y a cinquante ans, il constitue le plus ancien conflit environnemental en France. L’aéroport de la discorde est devenu le symbole, pour les défenseurs de l’environnement, des « grands projets inutiles ». Cinquante ans de lutte, d’enlisement, de bataille juridique.
C’est à la fin des années 1960 que naît l’idée d’un aéroport pour le Grand Ouest, dans le cadre de la décentralisation promue par la délégation interministérielle à l’aménagement du territoire et à l’attractivité régionale. L’aéroport de Nantes Atlantique (anciennement Château-Bougon) est jugé inadapté pour accueillir les millions de passagers prévus. Il est alors question de vols transatlantiques et de faire atterrir le fleuron aéronautique national, le Concorde.
Les terres du bocage, à une vingtaine kilomètres au nord de Nantes et à quatre-vingts kilomètres au sud de Rennes, majoritairement sur la commune de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, sont désignées, en 1968, comme site préférentiel. Alors que le conseil municipal, comme ceux des bourgs voisins, vote en faveur du projet, certains agriculteurs s’opposent. « On aurait autant aimé pas », déclare un habitant de la commune dans un reportage télévisé de 1974.
Les premiers opposants créent en 1972 l’Association de défense des exploitants concernés par l’aéroport (Adeca). Une petite délégation se rend à Orly (Val-de-Marne) enregistrer des bruits d’avion et recueillir des témoignages de riverains. En janvier 1974, un arrêté préfectoral fixe la zone d’aménagement différé (ZAD) qui permet au département d’acquérir quelque 1 200 ha (la surface totale du projet étant de 1 650 ha).
Le projet d’aéroport est mis en sommeil durant une quinzaine d’années, à cause de la crise pétrolière et de l’arrivée du TGV à Nantes (1989). L’idée d’un troisième aéroport parisien est promue en 1994 et Notre-Dame-des-Landes reste dans la course. En 2000, le projet est réactivé par le gouvernement socialiste de Lionel Jospin. En octobre, un comité interministériel décide de « réaliser un nouvel aéroport, en remplacement de Nantes Atlantique, sur le site de Notre-Dame-des-Landes ».
L’apparition des plans d’exposition au bruit, interdisant ou limitant les constructions exposées au bruit des avions, contrarie la volonté du maire (PS) de Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, d’urbaniser l’île de Nantes. Ce dernier est très attaché à l’idée de disposer d’une infrastructure à l’égal des grands aéroports européens. En décembre 2000, l’Association citoyenne intercommunale des populations concernées par le projet d’aéroport (Acipa) est créée.
En 2003 se met en place la commission consultative du débat public. Trois ans plus tard, sur la base du dossier de déclaration publique (DUP), est organisée l’enquête publique. Le 9 février 2008, l’Etat signe le décret (pour dix ans) déclarant d’utilité publique la construction du nouvel aéroport.
En 2009, naît le Collectif d’élus doutant de la pertinence de l’aéroport (CéDpa). L’été de cette même année se tient sur le site visé un « camp d’action climat ». Dans la foulée, les premières occupations voient le jour et la ZAD est rebaptisée « zone à défendre ».
Les années 2010 : « zadistes » contre « légalistes »
En décembre 2010, le premier ministre François Fillon (UMP) signe le décret d’attribution de la concession à la société Vinci, pour une durée de cinquante-cinq ans, des aéroports existant de Nantes Atlantique et de Saint-Nazaire Montoir, ainsi que du futur Notre-Dame-des-Landes. L’ouverture du nouveau site est prévue en 2017. Vinci sera dans la foulée victime de nombreuses actions un peu partout en France.
De nombreux recours sont déposés par les opposants. Les procès se succèdent et la bataille juridique va durer plusieurs années. En avril 2012, deux agriculteurs, Michel Tarin et Gilles Denigot, font une grève de la faim devant la préfecture de Nantes. François Hollande assure qu’il n’y aura pas d’intervention sur la zone avant la fin de tous les recours.
Le 16 octobre 2012 au petit matin, le gouvernement de Jean-Marc Ayrault – Manuel Valls est ministre de l’intérieur – lance l’opération « César » pour évacuer la ZAD. Mais les violents affrontements conduisent le gouvernement à suspendre l’opération. Le 17 novembre, plusieurs dizaines de milliers de personnes manifestent pour réoccuper la zone. Une semaine plus tard, le premier ministre annonce la création de trois commissions (experts, dialogue et scientifiques). La commission du dialogue conclut, en avril 2013, à la validité du projet, mais remet en question les mesures de compensation prévues.
Durant l’année 2013, les occupations se multiplient et de nombreux projets agricoles voient le jour. Le 22 février, plusieurs dizaines de milliers de manifestants, appuyés par quelque 500 tracteurs, défilent dans le centre de Nantes. De violents incidents ponctuent la manifestation.
Les procès et les recours continuent de s’enchaîner. Ils sont tous perdus par les opposants au projet. En janvier 2016, le tribunal de grande instance de Nantes valide les expulsions des habitants et agriculteurs, opposants historiques. Ségolène Royal, alors ministre de l’environnement, commande une étude au Conseil général à l’environnement et au développement durable (CGEDD), qui propose, le 5 avril, deux solutions : l’aéroport à Notre-Dame-des-Landes mais avec une seule piste sur les deux prévues, ou le réaménagement de Nantes Atlantique.
Le 11 février, François Hollande propose un référendum local. Il se tiendra sur le seul département de Loire-Atlantique et donnera, le 26 juin, la victoire aux partisans du transfert de l’aéroport vers Notre-Dames-des-Landes (55,1 % pour).
En avril, la Commission européenne classe le contentieux, engagé trois ans plus tôt, sur le non-respect par la France des réglementations sur les impacts environnementaux des projets d’infrastructure. La cour administrative d’appel de Nantes valide, elle, en novembre, les arrêtés préfectoraux – le Conseil d’Etat est toujours saisi des recours des opposants.
2017-2018 : les dernières consultations ?
Avec l’élection d’Emmanuel Macron en mai, puis la nomination de Nicolas Hulot – opposant au projet d’aéroport – à la tête du ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire, le suspense est relancé. Suivant une promesse de campagne, le chef de l’Etat annonce qu’il prendra une décision après avoir pris connaissance d’un ultime rapport. Trois médiateurs sont nommés le 1er juin. Mi-décembre, ils rendent leur travail sans prendre parti pour la construction de l’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes selon le projet initial ou pour le réaménagement de Nantes Atlantique. Après consultation des élus locaux, le premier ministre réaffirme que la décision sera annoncée avant la fin du mois de janvier.