Heathrow writer-in-residence helps plant orchard to stop the 3rd runway

13.11.2009   (Greenpeace)         link to lots more photos

How do you like them apples?

Down on the parcel of land Greenpeace has bought on the site of the proposed
third Heathrow runway, a new element is being added to the
Airplot. Typically for this time of year, it’s a bit chilly and a bit muddy, but that
makes it perfect for what we’ve got planned today, which is planting an apple
With the help of people like actress Alison Steadman, poet laureate Carol Ann
Duffy and former Heathrow writer-in-residence Alain de Botton, we’re planting
yet more roots into the land we own on behalf of tens of thousands of people around
the world, a right spanner in the works for advocates of bigger airports at Heathrow
and elsewhere.
The Sipson field is crowded: Alison and Carol Ann rubbing shoulders with Richard
Briers, returning after
helping us set up the allotment earlier in the year, and politicians of all hues. Trees have been adopted by
various groups who oppose plans for a third runway, including Labour and Conservative
MPs (David Cameron and Oliver Letwin have lent their names to the Tory one), while
the Lib Dem and Green parties have trees of their own. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg
is there to reaffirm his party’s stand against a bigger Heathrow and local Labour
MP John McDonnell is also on hand for some tree-planting duties.

Thirteen trees in all will be planted and dedicated, including one for all you
57,000-plus Airplotters out there, as well as the massive coalition of scientists,
local councils, celebrities, and campaigning groups (including fellow apple enthusiasts
Woodland Trust) who think we need to rein in our binge-flying.  One has also been accepted
by Reverend Tafue of Tuvalu, the Pacific nation which is already feeling the effects
of climate change.

Alain de Botton can’t be there in person today but a plaque bearing his name
does stand in front of a Langley pippin tree.   During his week-long stint as
Heathrow’s writer-in-residence earlier this year, he documented life in the various terminals and although
he says that “I love airports and air travel”, he also recognises that “if our
society is to tolerate them, we’re going to have to learn to fly a lot less.”

Meanwhile, Carol Ann Duffy has predicted the demise of the third runway in her
poem Mrs Scrooge as the Ghost of Christmas Past visits the orchards of Sipson.
You can read it on the
Guardian website.

Yet the orchard is more than just a physical block to the third runway plans,
it’s also firmly rooted (if you’ll pardon the pun) in the history of the Heathrow
area. In the mid-1800s,
Richard Cox bred the Cox’s orange pippin just a mile away from the current airport and he’s buried in the graveyard in
Harmondsworth, one of the villages under threat from the runway plans. His legacy
is seen in supermarkets around the country, as the Cox’s orange pippin accounts
for more than half of all UK-grown dessert apples.

The Heathrow area was also, until relatively recently, an important source of
food for London. Until the 1960s, market gardens proliferated and produce was
sent in to the old Covent Garden market for sale to city-dwellers.

Orchard plans don’t just stop at the Airplot fence though. In the coming weeks,
Greenpeace supporter networks around the country will hold their own tree planting
events in solidarity with Sipson –
find out if there’s one happening in your area. And of course if you haven’t already, you can become a beneficial owner of the land (and accompanying apple trees) yourself.


link to Greenpeace webpage
See also
BBC     13.11.2009  

Actors stage third runway protest

Actors, politicians and the country’s leading poet planted an orchard on the
site of the proposed third Heathrow runway during a protest on Friday.

Actors Alison Steadman and Richard Briers, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Poet
Laureate Carol-Ann Duffy joined residents and activists.

Alison Steadman and Richard Briers

Alison Steadman and Richard Briers munch a Cox’s apple at Heathrow

Greenpeace bought the site last year and 60,000 people own a stake in it.

They planted Cox’s apples in memory of Richard Cox, who introduced them to the
area and is buried on the site.

Groups including Greenpeace, the Woodland Trust, the RSPB and World Development
Movement were represented on the site, which is the size of a football field.

Alison Steadman said: “We’re re-introducing Cox apple trees to this village and
building a bridge between the past and the future, because this community will
have a future.


Heathrow protest

Many environmental groups are opposed to the runway plan

“The British Airports Authority and the government now know that if they try
to build this new runway they will have to dig up trees owned by and on behalf
of millions of people from every area of British society.

“Some of those people will be there to stand in front of the bulldozers if they
ever roll into the new orchard. The third runway cannot and will not be built.”

The government gave the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow in January, saying
it is “right” for the UK, but opponents have vowed to fight it.

Opponents of the scheme say transport infrastructure around Heathrow already
struggles and the extra demands would create gridlock.

They say that to make way for the runway, Sipson – a village of 700 houses –
would be demolished and hundreds of acres of greenbelt land would be swallowed