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.
A group of residents facing the misery that would result from a 3rd Heathrow runway made a light-hearted festive protest outside the home of the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling by singing re-worded Christmas carols -on the last night of the government Draft Airports NPS consultation. Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance so it wasn’t until leaving Harmondsworth that everyone discovered they would be singing outside Grayling’s house, his retreat from the daily grind of plotting the destruction of other people’s homes. Grayling himself was in Parliament at the time, and no family members appeared to be at home. The protesters drank mulled wine and festive drinks, and sang their own renditions of well-known carols, with suitably altered, anti-runway, words. A Stop Heathrow Expansion spokesperson commented “Looking down the drive from the road and seeing the sprawling detached house with it’s huge Christmas tree displayed in the un-curtained front window, it is easy to see why our Secretary State has no comprehension of the misery he will inflict on others with a third runway.” And they hoped Grayling would “spare a thought for people who face another Christmas under threat and reflect on their situation.”
Grayling gets home visit from carolling campaigners
19.12.2017 (Stop Heathrow Expansion – SHE – website)
A group of residents facing the misery that would result from a third runway made a light-hearted festive protest outside the home of the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling by singing re-worded Christmas carols on the last night of the government consultation.
Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance so it wasn’t until leaving Harmondsworth that everyone discovered they would be singing outside Grayling’s house, his retreat from the daily grind of plotting the destruction of other people’s homes.
On arrival, it was evident from the cobwebs on his entry phone that Grayling doesn’t encourage visitors. Not even the Amazon delivery driver ventured down the driveway. (Mrs Grayling, don’t forget to pick up your post.)
Not even someone looking like Santa’s helper can get a response from the Grumpy Graylings
Not even someone looking like Santa’s helper can get a response from the Grumpy Graylings
Looking down the drive from the road and seeing the sprawling detached house with it’s huge Christmas tree displayed in the uncurtained front window, it is easy to see why our Secretary State has no comprehension of the misery he will inflict on others with a third runway.
At one point, there was the sound of a solitary aircraft flying thousands of feet in the sky above. It demonstrated how hard it is to totally escape aircraft noise if you live anywhere near London, but it also makes you wonder if Grayling assumes this is anything like the reality of 24/7 airport noise.
Heathrow has regular flights when people are trying to sleep (an activity that won’t be banned with R3); HGV vehicles use and abuse local roads throughout the night; engine testing can take place at any time – even 4am; noisy road and plant maintenance is scheduled for times convenient for travellers NOT for those living nearby.
A quick search online revealed the house was bought 17 years ago, about the same time that residents in the Heathrow Villages have been living under threat of a third runway. During that time Grayling has enjoyed the security of knowing he has a home for his family for as long as he wishes to stay there. Meanwhile, thousands of others, thanks to our government, have had their homes repeatedly threatened with destruction or feared an increase in aircraft numbers and noise.
Long-time campaigners know that not only do senior politicians, like Grayling, have no understanding of the impact on the lives of residents in those situations, they also don’t want to know. It is easier to destroy vast areas when you don’t have to confront the reality.
Should the going get tough, these politicians can just disappear from public life and go home to their safe and cosy £1.7million investment, close to outstanding schools and all the other things that people suffering near Heathrow can only dream about.
Does anyone remember Labour Secretary of Secretary for Transport Ruth Kelly? She supported a third runway and wouldn’t listen to why it was undeliverable. Before long her political career and her plans for Heathrow expansion went down the pan.
When the Graylings celebrate during the holidays, we hope they will spare a thought for people who face another Christmas under threat and reflect on their situation.
Here are some words to sing-a-long:
“Sir Howard Davies was a lie/And no way independent./Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development./No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/ Ifs and buts,/There will be no third runway. ” — VERSE TO THE TUNE OF “DING DONG MERRILY ON HIGH”
“Theresa May she gave us hope,/And shared our celebration./Five minutes into Number 10,/She U-turned on the nation./No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo Ifs and Buts, /THERE WILL BE NO THIRD RUNWAY.”
Merry Christmas to everyone opposing “the catastrophic environmental consequences of a 3rd runway at Heathrow..” (quote from tweet by Adam Afriyie MP, Windsor)
The campaigners sang adapted carols outside the Transport Secretary’s house.
Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners made a light-hearted festive protest outside Chris Grayling’s house before Christmas.
The group visited the Transport Secretary on the last night of the government consultation, singing re-worded carols.
One such adaption went (to the tune of Ding-Dong Merrily on High): “Sir Howard Davies [Airports Commission] was a lie/And no way independent/Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development/No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/ Ifs and buts/There will be no third runway.”
Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance, so to most of them it was a surprise to sing outside Mr Grayling’s house.
Neil Keveren, resident near Heathrow who attended the carol singing, said: “This was a fun event but with a very serious point.
“Mr. Grayling has the security of knowing he has a home for his family for this Christmas and as long as he wishes to stay there. Meanwhile, thousands of others, thanks to his Government, have had their homes threatened with destruction or feared an increase to the cap of 480,000 flights a year.”
On 13th December the French government got the report from the three mediators, who are looking into the proposed project to build an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), north of Nantes. President Emmanuel Macron had announced that he would take a decision in January on this complex issue. The mediators had heard evidence both for and against the construction of a new airport on a site currently occupied by the project’s opponents or the extension of the runways at the existing Nantes-Atlantiques airport. The mediators point out that both have disadvantages and there is no “perfect solution”. Building a new airport would mean more urban sprawl and damage and destruction of an environmentally sensitive site, as the protesters and farmers who have occupied the site since 2009 have continued to point out. The main argument in favour of the new NDDL airport is increased noise for those under flight paths of the existing airport. The new airport would probably cost the French taxpayer up to €920 million, and extending runways at the existing airport might cost €545 million. At the NDDL site there are 650 hectares of farms, whose owners refuse to give up their land. In addition, the place is a wetland, home to a large number of protected species. Some of the facts and arguments are set out in these articles.
France to decide on controversial Nantes airport plan following mediators’ report
By Tony Cross (RFI English)
A mediators’ report on a controversial plan to build a new airport in western France has refused to come down on either side, leaving the ball in the government’s court. President Emmanuel Macron has promised a final decision on the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project in January at the latest.
The mediators declare both alternatives – the construction of a new airport on a site currently occupied by the project’s opponents or the extension of the runways at the already-existing Nantes-Atlantiques airport – “reasonable options” in a report submitted to the government on Wednesday.
But they both have disadvantages and there is no “perfect solution”, they point out.
Building a new airport would mean more urban sprawl and damage an environmentally sensitive site, as the protesters and farmers who have occupied the site since 2009 point out, the report concludes.
It would also cost 730 million euros, compared to between 365 million and 460 million euros for the extension, the mediators estimate, although compensation for the cancellation of contracts with the BTP Vinci group are not included in the latter figure.
But the mediators also concede that extending the Nantes-Atlantiques airport runway would mean “significant” noise pollution for residents of the surrounding areas and call for an “urgent” revision of the present anti-noise measures.
Five million passengers pass through Nantes-Atlantiques every year at the moment and the figure is expected to rise to nine million by 2040.
Opposition predicts “capitulation”
On receiving the report, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised a “clear decision”, which would mean a “return to normal” so far as public order is concerned, before the end of January.
His words echoed a similar pledge by Macron in an interview with Le Monde newspaper published on Tuesday.
Even before a decision has been announced, members of the right-wing opposition Republicans were predicting an “unprecedented capitulation” to the protesters.
“Who makes the decisions in France?” Republicans spokesman Guillaume Peltier asked on Cnews TV. “Two-hundred zadistes [site-occupying] activists? The law of the strongest? Anarchy? The rule of law and the authority of the republic?”
He called for the site to be evacuated, by the armed forces if necessary.
Peltier also cast doubts on the objectivity of the report, pointing out that two of the three mediators are close to Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, a veteran green campaigner.
Long battle in courts and on ground
Five legal cases have been filed against the project and supporters of a new airport have promised to take up the legal cudgels if the government decides against them.
They also point to a local referendum, held in 2016, which showed 55 percent of those voting in favour of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes plan.
Green party member Cécile Duflot, who was housing minister in the previous government, on Wednesday claimed that then-president François Hollande told her the Notre Dames des Landes plan was “not a good idea” but that there was a “problem with Jean-Marc”.
That was a reference to his prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a former mayor of Nantes who was a fervent advocate of building a new airport.
Ayrault was still defending the idea on Wednesday, insisting that, although it was first mooted in 1970, “This is not a project from the past”.
Aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes : les conclusions des médiateurs
le 15 12 2017
Le 13 décembre 2017, le rapport de la “Mission de médiation relative au projet d’aéroport du Grand Ouest” a été remis au Gouvernement. Il évalue deux solutions : la construction d’un nouvel aéroport à Notre-Dame-des-Landes et le réaménagement de l’aéroport Nantes Atlantique. Dans un entretien au journal “Le Monde” la veille, Emmanuel Macron a assuré que la décision serait prise “au plus tard en janvier”.
Construire un nouvel aéroport ou réaménager celui qui existe ?
Le rapport des médiateurs rappelle la nécessité d’une plateforme aéroportuaire du Grand Ouest capable de supporter le passage de 9 millions de passagers par an à l’horizon 2040. Les médiateurs présentent une estimation des coûts financiers et écologiques des deux options. Les options en présence sont toutes les deux “raisonnablement envisageables”. Mais les analyses par critère confirment l’absence de solution parfaite.
Le coût réel d’un réaménagement de l’aéroport Nantes Atlantique, “beaucoup moins étudiée jusqu’ici”, est estimé entre 415 et 545 millions d’euros, hors prise en compte d’une éventuelle indemnisation à verser au titulaire du contrat de concession. Le projet de construction de Notre-Dame-des-Landes est estimé à 740 millions d’euros.
L’augmentation du trafic à Nantes Atlantique “serait sans effet significatif dommageable” sur le site remarquable du lac de Grand Lieu, mais laisse subsister des nuisances sonores significatives. Le projet de Notre-Dame-des-Landes écarte des zones urbanisées les nuisances aéroportuaires, mais accroît significativement l’artificialisation des espaces agricoles et naturels ainsi que l’étalement urbain.
S’agissant du bilan carbone, le rapport met en évidence un léger avantage à Nantes Atlantique, de près de 200 kilotonnes par CO2 sur 20 ans d’exploitation.
La mission, sans privilégier l’une ou l’autre option, souligne la nécessité d’une décision de l’État. Celle-ci devra être accompagnée d’un projet collectif de territoire porté par l’État, les collectivités et tous les acteurs socioéconomiques.
En l’absence de travaux, au 10 février 2018, la déclaration d’utilité publique du projet sera considérée caduque, à moins que l’État ne décide auparavant de la prolonger.
Un dossier de plus de 50 ans
Commencée en 1965, la recherche d’un “nouveau site aéronautique pour les régions Bretagne et Pays-de-la-Loire” conduit au choix de Notre-Dame-des-Landes. En 1974, une zone d’aménagement différé (ZAD) de 1 225 hectares est créée autour du site avant que le projet ne soit mis en sommeil.
A la suite du décret de février 2008 déclarant le nouvel aéroport d’utilité publique, la société Vinci remporte l’appel d’offres en décembre 2010 pour la conception, le financement, la construction et l’exploitation du futur aéroport pour une période de 55 ans.
Le 26 juin 2016, lors d’une consultation locale organisée à la demande du président François Hollande, les électeurs de Loire-Atlantique votent en faveur de la construction du nouvel aéroport, à plus de 55% des voix.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes Airport: the conclusions of the mediators
15 12 2017 (Vie Publique France)
On December 13, 2017, the report of the “Mediation Mission for the Greater West Airport Project” was submitted to the Government . It evaluates two solutions: the construction of a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes and the redevelopment of the Nantes Atlantique airport. In an interview with the newspaper “Le Monde” the day before, Emmanuel Macron assured that the decision would be taken “at the latest in January”.
Build a new airport or redevelop the existing one?
The report of the mediators recalls the need for a West-West airport platform capable of supporting the passage of 9 million passengers per year by 2040. The mediators present an estimate of the financial and ecological costs of the two options. The options involved are both “reasonably conceivable”. But criterion analyzes confirm the absence of a perfect solution.
The real cost of a redevelopment of the Nantes Atlantique airport, “much less studied so far”, is estimated between 415 and 545 million euros, excluding any compensation to be paid to the contract holder. concession. The construction project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes is estimated at 740 million euros.
The increase in traffic at Nantes Atlantique “would have no significant harmful effect” on the remarkable site of Grand Lieu Lake, but leaves significant noise nuisance. The Notre-Dame-des-Landes project dismisses airport nuisances from urbanized areas, but significantly increases the artificialisation of agricultural and natural spaces as well as urban sprawl.
Regarding the carbon footprint, the report shows a slight advantage in Nantes Atlantique, of nearly 200 kilotonnes per CO2 over 20 years of operation.
The mission, without favoring one or the other option, emphasizes the need for a state decision. This will have to be accompanied by a collective project of territory carried by the State, the communities and all the socioeconomic actors.
In the absence of works, as of February 10, 2018, the declaration of public utility of the project will be considered null and void, unless the State decides before to prolong it.
A record of more than 50 years
Begun in 1965, the search for a “new aeronautical site for the Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire regions” led to the choice of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. In 1974, a 1,225 hectare deferred development zone (ZAD) was created around the site before the project was put to sleep.
Following the decree of February 2008 declaring the new airport of public utility, the company Vinci won the tender in December 2010 for the design, financing, construction and operation of the future airport for a period of 55 years.
On June 26, 2016, during a local consultation organized at the request of President François Hollande, the voters of Loire-Atlantique vote in favor of the construction of the new airport, with more than 55% of the votes.
The government must receive , Wednesday, December 13, the report of the three mediators responsible for “overhaul” the project to build an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes , north of Nantes . Emmanuel Macron had announced that he would take a decision in January on this complex issue, which we tried to summarize the issues in figures.
This is the number of years that have elapsed since a “deferred development zone” (ZAD) was created in 1974 around Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a rural commune some twenty kilometers to the north from Nantes. The project of setting up an airport in the western part emerged in the 1960s. But in the face of strong local opposition, the project was finally put to sleep.
In 2000, the Jospin government relaunched the debate on this airport project, not without reviving the disputes. The declaration of public utility is nevertheless voted in 2008. It is theoretically due on February 9, 2018.
This is the record observed between January and November 2017 at the Nantes-Atlantique airport, whose traffic is rising sharply (+ 14% in one year). The aim of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL) project is to relieve the current infrastructure located in the south-west of the city. According to the first elements of the mediators’ report, unveiled by Ouest-France , traffic in Nantes is expected to exceed 9 million passengers by 2040.
50,000 AIRCRAFT MOVEMENTS PER YEAR
This is the threshold beyond which a noise prevention plan in the environment must betriggered . It has been achieved, say the elected officials of the coastal communities of Nantes-Atlantique, who advance the noise nuisance as the main argument in favor of the relocation of the airport and require, at a minimum, to prohibit the night flights.
The current airport has only one 2.9 km runway and is located in an urban area. Notre-Dame-des-Landes would have two tracks, which his supporters consider a real progress. But during the review of the file, reflections were conducted to extend the current track of Nantes-Atlantique or build a second track perpendicular to the first. A previous report estimated that the NDDL project was oversized, and could itself be content with a single track.
BUILD NDDL: 561 MILLION EUROS? 920 MILLION EUROS?
These are two estimates, almost doubling, of the cost of the NDDL airport. The builder, Vinci, assured in 2010 that the airport would cost 561 million euros, of which only 43% at the expense of the state and local authorities. Very underestimated, according to the opponents, who, by adding the tram-train and the feeder roads, reach a slate of at least 920 million euros , most of which would then be financed by public funds. A different 2011 study is even more pessimistic.
REDEVELOP NANTES-ATLANTIQUE: 415 MILLION, 545 OR 825 MILLION EUROS?
Difficult to quantify precisely the redevelopment of Nantes-Atlantique. In 2013, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) referred to a closure of the runway for three to six months and a total bill of 825 million euros. The mediation report on Wednesday seems much less pessimistic, and puts a range between 415 million and 545 million euros, and a shorter closing time.
IN THE EVENT OF A TURNAROUND: 150 MILLION, 200, 300 MILLION FOR VINCI?
Other unknown file: what will be the amount of compensation to be paid to Airport Grand Ouest, a subsidiary of Vinci Airports? No official figure is confirmed. Estimates range between 200 million and 350 million euros. Overvalued, according to opponents, who speak instead of 150 million euros.
This is the land takeover of the Greater West Airport (AGO) project, even though the airport itself only covers 500 hectares. If the state owns most of it, there are 650 hectares of farms, whose owners refuse to give up their land. In addition, the place is a wetland, where a hundred protected species live. Ecological offsets are planned for … four of them.
This is the approximate number of activists who live in cabins or squatted farms in the ZAD airport they renamed “area to defend . ” Some have been present since 2009. A police evacuation to dislodge them , the operation “Caesar”, failed in 2012.
Difficult to quantify the direct and indirect economic benefits of the airport. The construction site of the airport should generate at least 700 jobs. But opponents point out that 200 farmers would lose their business. The supporters of the project , on the contrary, believe that the operation of the site would create 3000 jobs, without counting the project to implement a research institute at the current site of Nantes Atlantique.
The voters of Loire-Atlantique voted in June 2016 for the transfer of the airport in a local referendum. According to a poll conducted at the end of November 2017 by the IFOP for the Airport Joint Trade Union, 76% of those interviewed want “the public authorities to follow and apply the will of the citizens”. The very fact of having launched a mediation mission shows that the new government is hesitant on the issue.
Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), a local campaign group made up of residents opposing the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, attended the Maidenhead Festival 22 and 23 July. They had a fun but serious message – fighting for the ‘bare necessities’ that Heathrow expansion would threaten. The theme of the need for “the bare necessities of life” took centre stage at the group’s pitch to local residents at the annual festival, with essentials including: – the right to a settled home, – air free from pollution, – good health, – quiet time for essential rest, – a planet safe from climate change. SHE believes all these would be put at risk with a 3rd runway, and to get the message across, three members wore distinctive bear costumes for the day – to highlight the ‘bare necessities’ theme. The extra 260,000 planes per year that would use an expanded Heathrow would serious noise problems for tens of thousands in the area, worse air pollution, and huge strain on local housing caused by the displacement of the two villages of Harmondsworth and Longford nearby. The negative impacts on her constituency should be a matter of concern to Theresa May, its MP. The previously opposed the runway, but is now prepared to sacrifice her residents’ quality of life, for the slightly desperate attempt by this weakened government to show “Britain is open for business” post-Brexit, by backing a highly dubious, costly, damaging, runway project.
FIGHTING FOR THE BARE NECESSITIES
Stop Heathrow Expansion, a local campaign group made up of residents opposing the plans for a third runway at Heathrow, attended the Maidenhead Festival at Kidwells Park, on 22 and 23 July with a fun but serious message – fighting for the ‘bare necessities’ that Heathrow expansion would threaten.
The next generation wants to know why they’re forced to breathe polluted air
The theme of the need for “the bare necessities of life” took centre stage at the group’s pitch to local residents at the annual festival, with essentials including:
the right to a settled home,
air free from pollution,
quiet time for essential rest
a planet safe from climate change.
The group believes all these would be put at risk with a third runway at Heathrow and to get the message across three members adopted distinctive bear costumes for the day to highlight the ‘bare necessities’ theme. The bears gave out leaflets to locals attending the festival as well as campaign badges to younger attendees.
Just a normal day at the Maidenhead Festival – man with a plane on his head talks to bemused bear while watching the Prime Minister schmoozing the locals (yes that’s her by the pink tent)
Rob Barnstone, Campaign Coordinator, Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Heathrow expansion would threaten the ‘bare necessities’ of life – 260,000 extra planes per year would mean peace would be in peril, dirtier air would be lurking in the lungs of local people as well as the strain on local housing caused by the displacement of the two villages of Harmondsworth and Longford nearby.”
Paul Groves, Maidenhead resident and representative of Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN), said: “Maidenhead residents will not benefit from a third runway. We were pleased to join Stop Heathrow Expansion today to highlight this very strong case to local residents, something in which our MP used to understand.”
Residents in the Prime Minister’s Maidenhead constituency have the chance this weekend to ask anti-runway campaigners at the Maidenhead Festival how Heathrow expansion will impact their area.
Stop Heathrow Expansion decided to set up a stall on Saturday and Sunday, 22nd and 23rd July, after people living in Maidenhead and the surrounding area contacted the group with questions about the proposals, which are currently supported by government. The event in Kidwells Park is free to the public and opens at 10am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday until 4pm, with additional entertainment and fireworks in the evening.
Highlighting the need to prioritise the bare necessities of life – with John McDonnell MP at the Hayes Carnival this summer.
A serious concern is the loss of Green Belt land to make way for housing. Windsor and Maidenhead are already under pressure to provide more housing but there will be further demands for new properties to be built if a third runway goes ahead. Loss of Green Belt is inevitable unless residents protest.
The Airports Commission determined that an additional 5,000 homes would be needed in each of 14 boroughs from West London to Surrey, which are not yet in any borough plan. (See letters page on this website.) These homes will be needed primarily to accommodate the people who would come into the areas around Heathrow looking for airport-related work. However, it is often forgotten that the loss of habitable homes in the villages to the north of Heathrow is likely to result in around 10,000 people being displaced. Many would want to keep close to friends, family and jobs – if they can afford to do so.
Affordable housing will certainly need to be a priority. Many of the people coming into the region will be single, who may be prepared to live in apartment blocks with minimal open space. However, provision must be made for families including creating additional school places and an expansion of health services to cope with the increased demand. The taxpayer will foot the bill.
The taxpayer also has to pay for improvements to transport infrastructure. Adding 260,000 flights and expanding Heathrow’s cargo operation will put a strain on roads and public transport. Dealing with that is likely to cost around £17 billion but Heathrow is only expecting to pay just over £1 billion and Heathrow doesn’t see dealing with the consequences of a third runway as its problem.
There a many hidden costs – not all financial.
Link to video of the dancing bears, to the music of “The Bear Necessities” of life
Find out more now, before it is too late.
LOOK OUT FOR OUR BEARS – AND FIND OUT ABOUT THE BARE NECESSITIES OF LIFE….
“Grow Heathrow” is a community project that has been living in Sipson since 2010, as a protest against a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have been fighting eviction for many years. Now Grow Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave, by the High Court. They had taken over a derelict site and turned it into a partly self sufficient community, growing a lot of their own food and acting as a community centre. On 29th June Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order – which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order. The judge said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose, though it had been derelict. Lewdown Holdings have had their planning permission for the site rejected, so nothing is planned on it. Grow Heathrow say they will appeal, and they do not intend to leave. They are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day. One of the activists living at Grow Heathrow said: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.” They have a lot of support from local residents, one of whom commented: “They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
Grow Heathrow runway protest community given 14 days to leave site
Court orders 20 residents to leave the community garden set up on derelict site to protest against airport expansion
By Sandra Laville (Guardian)
A community project set up to protest against a third runway at Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave its home by the high court.
Grow Heathrow took over a derelict garden centre in Sipson in 2010 and turned it into a community garden as part of action in protest against the plans for the runway. About 20 people live at the site and from their base they have become an integral part of the community activity against the building of a third runway at the airport.
But on Thursday Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order.
Lawyers for Grow Heathrow argued they had the right to a home, as interpreted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and were therefore entitled to resist a possession order. Any possession order, they said, would infringe the freedom of expression (under Article 10) and freedom of assembly, protest and association (under Article 11).
The judge found that the defendants could not rely on these rights to override Article 1, that: “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.” The judge stated that a “private landowner [is] entitled to put its land to any form of lawful use, including doing nothing with it”.
He said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose.
Alex Sharpe, one of the protesters, said Grow Heathrow would appeal against the granting of the order. He said: “What we want to do now is sit down with the landowners Lewdown and talk to them like adults. They have had their planning permission for this site rejected and we don’t have any intention of leaving this site. We hope to be able to talk to them sensibly about this.
“We don’t have any intention of leaving the Heathrow villages because we are part of the fight against the third runway, and as long as that is still a threat we will be here.”
The activists are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day.
The eviction of the residents could start in 14 days, but activists hope the appeal and conversations with the owners will mean this does not happen.
Ruth Raynor, one of the Grow Heathrow protesters, said after the hearing in London: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.
“As caretakers of this land we’ve cleared 100 tonnes of rubbish, returning the land to an ecological habitat and community garden. We would like to continue a conversation with Lewdown Holdings outlining a community based educational project.”
The shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, said the project had inspired the whole community and improved what was a derelict site. “We need lawful spaces of protest with the values of education and community embedded in them; Grow Heathrow would be a great loss for my constituency in this crucial campaign year against Heathrow airport’s expansion,” he said.
The activists and their hundreds of supporters cleared the site of 30 tonnes of rubbish and built a self-sufficient community when they took over the site in 2010 as part of protests against the third runway.
Jane Taylor, chair of Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association, supported the activists.
“Grow Heathrow came to the village to breathe new life into the community following another attempt by Heathrow airport to decimate its neighbouring villages. They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
“Grow Heathrow” still hanging on in Sipson – which would be wiped out by a 3rd northern runway
January 4, 2014
A small Transition community calling itself Grow Heathrow set up in Sipson three years ago, in order to give heart to the community, so badly damaged by the runway threat and the purchase by Heathrow airport of many properties. The Grow Heathrow site is a hub for local residents and environmental activists to share knowledge and practical skills such as organic gardening, permaculture design, bicycle maintenance and wood and metal work. They endeavour to be self-reliance, producing their own food; by use of solar and wind power, as well as simpler heating technologies, they are completely “off grid”. They collect water from the greenhouse roofs to feed the plants, fruit and vegetables; they use fuel-efficient rocket stoves to heat water; they have compost toilets making “humanure.” The site has been under threat of eviction for many months. Following an Appeal Court decision on 3rd July 2013 that the landowner could take possession, nothing has happened. They could be evicted at any time. They are still trying to negotiate with the landowner to buy the land, and the legal process seeking to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court is still trundling along. Meanwhile Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway in the Harmondsworth area, west of Sipson, has been short-listed by the Airports Commission.
“Grow Heathrow” squatters in Sipson pledge ‘peaceful’ resistance to bailiffs, due to evict them
August 15, 2014
The remarkable “Grow Heathrow”squatter community, occupying land near Heathrow in protest at the airport’s expansion, are expected to be evicted by bailiffs today – or soon. They say they will “peacefully” resist, but a range of non-violent means, including digging tunnels and locking themselves onto items. Grow Heathrow, which includes some 15 families, moved onto a derelict site near Sipson in 2010. The privately owned land had been a wasteland, and an area for anti-social activities. Grow Heathrow cleared rubbish from the site, and created a garden, as well as being as self sufficient in food as possible. They also ran creative and artistic workshops, and a positive and productive community. However, the land owner wants the land back, perhaps for sale to Heathrow airport (their 3rd runway plans would make most of Sipson impossible to live in). Many local people in Sipson have been delighted to have Grow Heathrow as neighbours, rather than a derelict site. The local MP, John McDonnell said he “wholeheartedly” supported the activists. “These are people who not only helped us fight off the third runway, they’ve actually occupied a site which would have been the sixth terminal for the expanded Heathrow Airport.”
Court of Appeal decision on Grow Heathrow eviction due
SQUATTERS occupying land once designated for Heathrow’s third runway will find out whether their appeal against eviction is successful next week.
Next Wednesday (July 3), campaigners from environmental action group Transition Heathrow will return to the Court of Appeal and hear whether they are allowed to remain at the Grow Heathrow community garden in Vineries Close, Sipson.The appeal was heard back in January, and the judges have since been mulling over their ruling in what could be a landmark case in land use and eviction cases.
The owner of the contested land, Imran Malik, was given a judgement of possession by Central London County Court in July 2012, nearly two years after first serving the group with an eviction notice, but Grow Heathrow were given dispensation to challenge the ruling.
The group’s legal argument is that eviction would infringe on their right to a home, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
This defence has never been used as the basis of such an appeal, and the ruling could have implications for housing law.
Previously disused wasteland, the group cleared the area and established Grow Heathrow in March 2010. It is now well regarded amongst people in Heathrow Villages, and John McDonnell appeared as a witness during the appeal in support of the young activists.
Grow Heathrow want to buy the land from Mr Malik and set up a Community Land Trust (CLT), but the offers have been rebuffed.
The momentous hearing starts at 9.30am, in court 70.
Neil Keveren, a builder who lives in one of the villages that would be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed 3rd runway, has completed a 400-mile walk from Heathrow to Edinburgh, in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans. Neil arrived at the Scottish Parliament 23 days after leaving his home in Harmondsworth on 4th April, having covered about 20 miles every day. Neil was born in the village of Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition if the expansion goes ahead. For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray (his support driver on the walk) also stands to lose his home. The SNP block of 54 MPs formally backed the Heathrow bid, in the probably mistaken belief it would bring significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including the very dubious indeed figure of “up to 16,000 new jobs” – over many years. Neil had appointments with a number of SNP MPs during the day, and had the opportunity to give them more information about the runway. So far most of them have only received very biased information from Heathrow, and they were interested to learn some of the inaccuracies and exaggerations in what they have been led to believe. Neil’s amazing walk proved the opportunity to talk to the SNP and correct misapprehensions.
From Harmondsworth to Holyrood: man walks 400 miles to protest Heathrow expansion
Neil Keveren at the Scottish Parliament protesting against the expansion of Heathrow
By Chris Green (The i)
Wednesday April 26th 2017
A man who lives in one of the villages that stands to be partially destroyed by the construction of Heathrow’s proposed third runway has completed a 400-mile walk from London to Edinburgh in protest at the SNP’s backing for the plans.
Neil Keveren, 55, arrived at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday after leaving his home in Harmondsworth earlier this month (4th April) and undertaking a three-week odyssey across Britain, covering up to 20 miles a day.
“I don’t see why people’s quality of life should be affected so drastically due to people wanting a gin and tonic on a beach” Neil Keveren.
The builder was born in Sipson, which is also facing partial demolition when the expansion finally goes ahead.
The choice of a third runway was officially supported by the Government last October.
For Keveren, the expansion of Heathrow is deeply personal. His house in nearby Harmondsworth is located only 54 paces from the enlarged airport’s boundary fence, while his 82-year-old uncle Ray also stands to lose his home.
“Expanding Heathrow is like throwing a rock into a pond,” he told i shortly after completing the final leg of his journey, which took him to the main entrance of the Scottish Parliament.
“You’ve got the devastation of 850 homes in the middle, the biggest clearance of a population since the Second World War.
“As the ripples move out, you’ve got 1.2 million Londoners who will suffer from noise detrimental to their health.”
The SNP formally backed the Heathrow bid shortly before it was given the provisional green light, arguing that the plans carried significant strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, including up to 16,000 new jobs.
Mr Keveren said he hoped to meet several senior SNP politicians while he was in Edinburgh with the aim of persuading them to withdraw their support for the expansion, explaining how it will impact local people.
He also claimed that the main beneficiaries of the increase in flights in and out of the UK would be a “frequent flier elite” rather than the general public. “I don’t see why people’s quality of life should be affected so drastically due to people wanting a gin and tonic on a beach four or five times a year,” he added.
As his walk took him down many busy roads, Mr Keveren was unable to listen to music and had to be alert and aware of his surroundings. His only distraction was the occasional toot of support from a passing motorist, who spotted his distinctive aeroplane hat and bright red tabard.
His uncle Ray drove his support van, which also provided their accommodation for most nights of the trip. “I’m no athlete – I’m a builder,” he added. “But for anyone who is reasonably fit, in small bites, it’s do-able.”
Neil and Harmondsworth residents, who had come up to Edinburgh by train to meet Neil, with members of the local Edinburgh Airport Watch group outside the Parliament
Neil with members of Friends of the Earth Scotland outside the Scottish Parliament
and Neil met lots of SNP MSPs as well as Green Party MSPs inside Parliament, where he had time to talk to them and explain the reasons for his walk, and why the runway is both devastating for the area where he lives – and also that the benefits Heathrow has said would come to Scotland from the runway have been highly exaggerated.
Neil hopes that tackling the challenge by foot will send a strong message to the Scottish Government that Heathrow expansion is a bad idea and they should drop their support for it.
The Harmondsworth resident, born in the neighbouring village of Sipson, said: “Throughout the past three weeks I have met many politicians and campaigners across England in the hope of changing their minds from supporting a third runway at Heathrow.
“Now I am in Scotland, I will be meeting a series of Scottish politicians and will seek to persuade them that a third runway cannot be delivered.
“A third runway at Heathrow would leave Scottish taxpayers with a multi-billion-pound bill, would far from guarantee any lasting benefits for Scotland, be incompatible with climate change targets and result in the destruction of thousands of homes.
“Do the Scottish Government really want their record tarnished by this terrible project?”
Passing through many villages, towns and cities in England along the way, Neil met MPs, campaigners and residents who heard his story.
The determined villager has made a big impression in the past to show his commitment to campaigning against the runway – even blocking the tunnel into Heathrow with his van in protest.
Crossing the Scottish Border last Sunday (April 23) Neil battled tough outdoor weather conditions as he made his way through south Scotland.
Now, campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion will be supporting him as he visits the Scottish Parliament to mark the end of his three-week walk.
21st April: Day 17 of Neil Keveren’s 400 mile walk from Harmondsworth to Edinburgh. Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk, with the weather forecast next week talking about Arctic winds (headwinds) and thunderstorms! Neil has blogged about what it has been like walking through the Northumberland National Park. “Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked. …The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. … It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis. … Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route.”
Day 17 – The long and not winding road – Neil’s walk to Scotland
21.4.2017 (Stop Heathrow Expansion SHE blog on Neil’s Walk to Scotland)
It’s Day 17, 21st April, and Neil is less than a week away from his destination, Edinburgh. His body is holding up but he is facing the toughest part of his walk. He may not realise it but the weather forecast for next week talks about Arctic winds and thunderstorms! Here he tells us what it’s been like walking through the Northumberland National Park.
If you look closely you can see the No Third Runway van (and Ray waiting patiently inside)
“Strong winds today and I have my waterproofs on. It’s so hilly! I’ve been on this same road now for days and it takes some getting used to. When I look at the road ahead I’m aware that I have to walk as far as the eye can see. When I look behind me I see a vast stretch of road that I’ve walked.
“The landscape is stunning. A bonus on this walk has been absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. I’ve also been blessed with some decent weather for the walk through England.
“It’s also been good to have so much support on the road – not just from Ray in the van. Drivers beep me and people on the street stop to wish me well. A few people have walked along for a while to keep me company and have chat. Perhaps the most unusual though was a flock of sheep who walked their boundary with me – I think they liked my hi-vis.”
Ray filling his lungs with some clean air – something denied to people living near Heathrow
“I usually take a ‘shut-down’ photo at the end of the day, but not tonight. We did the full 20-mile route today and booked into a campsite. As soon as we arrived I got straight into the sock washing and showering routine to get it out of the way. So I’ll send a picture of the camp in the morning. I’ve no internet on the tablet right now.
“We are 7 miles short of the Scottish border, that’s seventy-ish miles short of Edinburgh. Today was a tough walking day, with serious hills on one long, mostly Roman, route. Feet and legs are good though.
“Each day I’ve been adding a few miles to the original schedule as I know the terrain in Scotland is going to be tougher. I’m now about 25 miles ahead of where I’d expected to be at this stage. I might have to cut the mileage a bit as I don’t want to arrive in Edinburgh too early. Let me see what tomorrow’s hills are like.”
On the A68 – Camien Cafe, Rochester, Northumberland National Park
By CHRISTINE TAYLOR and Neil Keveren
APRIL 21, 2017