Heathrow opponents take inspiration from 5 years of noise protests after 3rd Frankfurt runway

With a decision by government expected shortly, and the likelihood of a Heathrow runway being approved, 3 Heathrow campaigners went to join in one of the massive (almost) weekly demos at Frankfurt airport. Back in October 2011 a 3rd Frankfurt runway was opened. The local residents had not been informed just how much worse the plane noise they suffer would become, with new routes and alterations to old routes. About a million people in the area are affected. Since then they have held hundreds of protests, almost every Monday evening, against this reduction in their quality of life, the noise intrusion they suffer, and the drop in the prices of their homes. The Frankfurt area residents say they will never give up. The Heathrow campaigners said something very similar would happen to noise, with a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking to the crowd of many hundreds of protesters in the terminal, John Stewart said: “What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. We will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.” Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, said:  “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath, I am pretty sure they are going to get the same sort of response at home.”

frankfurt-protest-oct-2016Some of the protesters in the airport terminal


The BBC’s Gareth Furbey went out with the three anti-runway protesters from Heathrow, to visit Frankfurt for one of their Monday evening protests.

There have been many hundreds of protests, not quite every Monday (they have a break at Christmas, and at some other times) for 5 years, since the opening of the 3rd runway at Frankfurt in October 2011.


Sometimes several thousand protesters attend the Monday rallies, in the airport terminal. In Germany airport terminals are public property, and the public is at will to enter them. In the UK airport buildings tend to be private.

When the 3rd runway was built, it involved not only new flight paths over new areas but also changes to existing flight paths.

The net effect was for there to be a large number of people newly exposed to plane noise under new, and concentrated, flight paths.

Though the airport had given some information about the new flight paths to some of the local authorities, they had not provided easy to understand information to the public, and there had been no public discussion or consultation.

So when the noise started,people were appalled and up in arms.

They have taken it upon themselves to protest, in huge numbers, for the past 5 years. Different areas or villages take it upon themselves to organised protests, so the task of organisation is shared.

Each Monday people gather at a set time at the terminal, with banners and placards and t-shirts. They listen to speeches, they sing anti runway songs (like “Die landebahn muss weg” – the runway must go), they make a huge amount of noise with drums, whistles etc, and they march round the terminal.


The protesters march round the terminal, banging drums, blowing hooters …

Sir Howard Davies went out one Monday to see what happens, and was impressed by the extent of the organised opposition.

The issue has become very significant in local politics.  Further airport expansion is difficult due to the massive opposition.

Three Heathrow campaigners went out to take part in on such Monday protest (others went several years ago to take part in the 100th protest). They were John Stewart, Chair of Hacan; Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, and a builder from Harmondsworth; and Ruth Mayorcas, a resident from Chiswick – which would be directly underneath the arrival flight path from the east for a north-west runway at Heathrow.

The BBC film is not available for more than 24 hours. But on the film, there are clips of the marchers in the terminal, drumming and making loads of noise; comments of residents taking part saying why they do so – they find the noise of the planes unacceptable; one says “We won’t give up.” Another says the noise means “we cannot sleep.”


Speaking to the protest, John Stewart said: 

“What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. WE will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.”

Neil Keveren said:  “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath I am pretty sure they ar going to get the same sort of re spouse at home.”

The BBC film showed clips of a family with two teenage sons, living under a flight path, where the noise is too great to spend much time outdoors in the garden, or to open the windows. One teenager says: “I’d like to open my windows – but I cannot as it is too noisy.”

What some people under the new flight paths at Frankfurt say is that they did not realise how noise it would be until the runway opened.

One of the areas a affected was once one of the most sought after suburbs, and a couple say that the value of their house has fallen by 40% due to the noise. Their home is 10 miles from the runway, and there is a plane overhead about every 90 seconds. He said:  “We used to have a paradise here. But now, as Milton said, Paradise is lost.”

Another resident point out a plane flying overhead, and says: “This is what we have about a thousand times per day. This is not a normal way of living.”

Ruth Mayorcas from Chiswick, living also about 10 miles from the runway (if it was built) said she was not worried. Standing in someone’s garden under a flight path – about 10 miles from the Frankfurt runway she said:   “I would not be able to listen to the radio or talk to friends. I have lived there so long. I cannot believe this.”


There is some news about Frankfurt airport below:

Residents around Frankfurt hold their 150th huge Monday evening protest against aircraft noise

On Monday 28th September, the 150th Monday evening protest against aircraft noise, due to the new runway, took place at Frankfurt airport. The new 4th runway was opened in October 2011, to the north west of the airport, and caused not only new flight paths but changes to existing flight paths. People had not been expecting the noise problem to be so bad. As soon as the runway opened, residents starting protesting against the noise – that was stopping them sleeping, reducing their quality of life, preventing them enjoying relaxing outside under flight paths, and reducing the prices of their homes. They started protests in the airport Terminal 1 (almost) every Monday evening. These are attended by between about 600 and 3,000 people. That is an astonishing achievement, and manifestation of real anger and determination by the thousands affected by plane noise. They are concerned now that the protests are seen to be becoming routine, and there is some appetite for more radical action, especially now that work is due to start very soon on a deeply opposed 3rd airport terminal. The style of protesting may perhaps now change. In German airport buildings are public property, so protesters are entitled to congregate in the terminal.

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Protesters set up camp in forest due to be cleared for Frankfurt airport 3rd terminal and access road

The operator of Frankfurt airport, Fraport, is planning a 3rd terminal, as it claims this is needed for it to remain competitive against other European hub airports. This new terminal would add enough capacity for 14 million more passengers a year when it opens in the first half of 2022. The airport can currently handle 64 million, but Fraport says there will be demand for 68 million to 73 million passengers by 2021. Over 4 days, airport protesters set up a camp in the nearby Treburger Oberwald forest, that is to be cleared in the course of the construction of a third terminal at Frankfurt airport. The peaceful event, “Forest instead of concrete,” organised by the group, Robin Wood, made the point that not only would be increased number of flights increase the carbon emissions of German aviation, but the loss of some 60 hectares of forest for the terminal and access road would also increase CO2. The protesters also hang up a banner in protest outside the concrete and gravel supplier Sehring, which profits from the environmentally damaging construction projects. Before the construction of the new north-west runway, the activists had occupied trees in Kelsterbach Forest for 9 months until their camp was cleared in February 2009 by the police.

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Noise demonstration blasts 80 dB recorded plane noise outside home of Frankfurt airport CEO for 2 hours

As a protest against the level of aircraft noise that people living near Frankfurt airport are exposed to – especially since the opening of the 4th runway in October 2011 – people have bombarded the home of the airport Chief Executive, Stefan Schulte, with noise. Citizens in a convoy of about 40 cars parked outside his house, in a small town north of Frankfurt,. They set up loudspeakers and ghetto blasters in their cars, and rolled down the car windows in order to blast out noise, at about 80 decibels. That is loudest the police allowed them to use. The noise went on for two hours, with two breaks. The protest was by people living in areas across Rhein-Main who are badly affected by noise from flight paths. The noise they used was of planes, recorded at Niederrad Sachsenhausen, which is an area about 3 km to the north east of the airport. After some time of the noise bombardment, the CEO’s automatic garage door opened, and he set off in his car for work at the airport. One of the protesters commented that they did not understand how Herr Schulte is able to say society must just endure such levels of noise. Asked if the protest had been successful, one protester commented that it had been if the media and more members of the public are aware of the issue.

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and more at  Frankfurt Airport