Publicity & Politics News
Below are links to stories on protests, publicity events and other aviation stories that have hit the news.
Extinction Rebellion protestors say mass ‘lie-in’ at Heathrow is ‘warning shot’ and vow to get arrested at future protests if 3rd runway goes ahead
Extinction Rebellion have blocked a road outside Heathrow Airport by lying in front of a bulldozer. Protesters descended on the airport en masse, cycling in convoy down the M4 from Hyde Park Corner, with cyclists joining along the route, halting several lanes of traffic. Dozens of environmental activists lay down on the tarmac outside the roundabout where the Emirates plane model is located. Part of Bath Road, above Tunnel Road roundabout, was closed as the protesters got a full-size pink tractor with a “bulldozer” shovel at the front, adorned with newspaper headlines on air pollution. They lay in front of it, as a reminder to Boris Johnson, that he had said he "would lie down in front of the bulldozers" to block the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway (and has since gone very quiet on the matter...) The protest was part of Extinction Rebellion's Christmas "12 Days of Crisis" campaign pressuring party leaders to take effective action on climate, in the run up to the election on 12th December. The Metropolitan Police said a Section 14 order was imposed allowing the protest until 3.30pm, after which time activists "run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted."
300th Frankfurt Monday demo against aircraft noise – 1,000 people -. “Only when no one comes, is it over!”
Back in October 2011 the Frankfurt airport 3rd runway opened. It was greeted with huge anger, because residents had not been informed how much new noise there would be, and that there would be noise where there previously was none. Huge protests started on Monday evenings (airports are public property in Germany, so protests can happen). These carried on with often as many as 1,000 people each week. People were devastated by the noise battering they were being subjected to. Now, 8 years later, the protesters have had their 300th protest, again with perhaps almost 1,000 people present. They say they will not give up, until there are no more protesters. "Only when no one comes, is it over." Their complaints have not been addressed, about noise or particulate air pollution, or the health issues people are suffering - including depression. The airport is continuing to expand, with a new terminal. Its opponents now hope the increasing awareness of carbon emissions from aviation, with campaigns like Fridays for Future, will help put pressure on Frankfurt airport. There is a new campaign against domestic flights.
Greenpeace bring bulldozer to Uxbridge – reminding Boris of his 2015 “lying in front of a bulldozer” comment
On 26th November, Greenpeace brought a big yellow bulldozer to Uxbridge tube station, on the High Street, together with a very comfortable chaise longue, to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to make good on his 2015 promise to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that 3rd runway’. Rival local candidates were invited to do likewise; the LibDem and Labour candidates came to show their opposition to Heathrow’s plans. Boris, of course, did not. Greenpeace activists delivered leaflets around the constituency, suggesting that they ask all election candidates what they would do about the runway, and vote accordingly. Boris is thought to be be generally against the runway, but has been notable by his absence of comment on the issue lately. Greenpeace said: “Since Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway, a lot has changed. The Amazon is burning, Greenland is melting, Yorkshire has flooded and people have been spotted sunbathing in the UK in February.... we are in a climate emergency". The 3rd runway is so obviously the sort of development the UK should NOT be building now.
Bristol Airport expansion cycle protesters halt A38 traffic near airport entrance
The new local group, opposed to expansion of Bristol Airport, partly on grounds of carbon emissions but also due to noise and other local impacts, has held a protest cycle ride. The group of about 70 cyclists met up close to the airport and then cycled in convoy along the busy A38. They temporarily brought roads around the airport to a halt in a protest against expansion plans, by riding in convoy to the airport and then repeatedly cycled around a roundabout close to the entrance. The lunchtime protest caused queues of between two and three miles in both directions. Unbelievably, the airport tries to claim its expansion to 12 million annual passengers by the mid 2020 will cut CO2 - as slightly fewer people would drive to London airports, if they fly from Bristol. They would in fact just fly more. The group support taking the "flight free pledge" not to fly in 2020, as a way to get people to think more carefully about travel and their lifestyle choices. The airport has submitted plans for the expansion and North Somerset Council is expected to decide on the expansion later this year.
Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS
The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and "rationality" of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process - or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT. In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats - as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge. There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.
No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched - 700 or more? - with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating "No 3rd Runway", and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
Launch of “Stay Grounded” network – organisations around the world opposing unsustainable aviation/airport expansion
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.
Anti-Heathrow protesters stage hunger strike against Heathrow 3rd runway plans, asking people to lobby their MPs to vote against it
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.
Campaigner who was approached by police to spy on anti-airport campaign wants proper inquiry into police infiltration
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.
After 50 year battle, French government abandons plans for new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Victory!
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