BAA denies seeking blanket ban on airport protest

· Injunction request targets climate change activists

· Application opposed by Transport for London

John Vidal, environment editor

The Guardian

Thursday August 2nd 2007

BAA backtracked yesterday from trying to get one of the widest-ranging injunctions
ever sought in Britain and denied it was trying to stop 5 million members of the
National Trust and other groups going to Heathrow to demonstrate against climate

But BAA, which owns the airport, said it still wanted to ban the Camp for Climate
Action, planned for August 14 to 21, because it was intended to disrupt the airport
with direct action.

BAA said in the high court that it was seeking a broad injunction to prevent
four individuals, Joss Garman, Leo Murray, John Stewart and Geraldine Nicholson,
representing four small aviation watchdog groups, from going near the airport.

It argued that it needed to include their organisations and supporters in case
they were part of the camp. These included the RSPB, the National Trust, Greenpeace
and the Woodland Trust.

“I am seeking to bring within the definition of protesters persons acting unlawfully
in the name of Camp for Climate Action,” said BAA’s lawyer, Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden.
“We are only trying to injunct people who are acting unlawfully … we only wish
to injunct those who wish to obstruct us or prevent us using the airport. We say
there are four groups who are intending to have a climate camp – the raison d’être
is to disrupt our lawful activities. What BAA does not want is people coming on
to the airport to act unlawfully and, on the evidence, these four groups intend
to [do] just that.”

Transport for London and London Underground said they had not been consulted
over the injunction. Their counsel, Martin Chamberlain QC, told the court that
the injunction was “an attempt to bind 5 million people”.

“What Mr Lawson-Cruttenden has said … is that it has been clear all along that
the only people sought to be injuncted are the four named defendants,” he said.
“It is quite the reverse. It has been clear all along, until the moment we arrived
at court today, that in fact the people sought to be injuncted included all the
members of the defendant organisations … This is unjustifiable and disproportionate.”

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But the judge, Mrs Justice Swift, who said she was a member of three of the groups,
said she was confused about what BAA wanted and instructed the company to return
today with a skeleton legal argument to justify its case.

MPs and others said yesterday that the company was in danger of making itself
more unpopular than it already was.

“This injunction is a challenge to a basic British value,” said Susan Kramer,
MP for Richmond, who represents people living near Heathrow. “People who have
been quietly opposed to the airport expansion are now getting fed up. This attempt
at an injunction against a very reasonable group smacks of arrogance.”

Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, had earlier in the week accused BAA of being
“out of their skull” and merely paving the way for hardcore protesters to invade
the climate action camp.

The injunction seeks to keep protesters away from platforms 6 and 7 of Paddington
station, all trains travelling to Heathrow, the Piccadilly line of London Underground,
the M4 motorway and all service stations between junctions 3 and 6. Junctions
13 to 15 were also included.

Protesters would not be allowed to carry wooden poles, stepladders, spades, saws,
nails, hammers, ropes, glue or whistles.

The Camp for Climate Action said the protest would go ahead whether or not BAA
won its injunction.

“We accuse BAA of abusing people’s rights to freedom of expression and of pushing
for the expansion of airports in the knowledge that it will lead directly to climate
change and indirectly to millions of deaths,” it said.

The hearing continues.

The named four

Joss Garman

The son of an airline pilot, now a London University politics student. Co-founder
of Plane Stupid, which has taken peaceful direct action against one airport and
occupied BAA offices

Leo Murray

Co-founder of Plane Stupid. Grandson of the late Lord Greenwood, a Wilson-era
cabinet member who introduced much of Britain’s first clean air and river legislation

Geraldine Nicholson

Chair of the No Third Runway Action Group, a large residents’ group based in
the village of Sipson, which is due to be demolished if Heathrow builds a third

John Stewart

Chair of Hacan ClearSkies, Heathrow watchdog group with 25,000 members. Named
UK campaigner of the year in 2005. The group has marched through central London
to highlight its concerns about the airport