Wednesday, August 01, 2007

turning up the heat at heathrow

British Airports Authority - operators of Heathrow airport - go to the high court tomorrow to seek an injunction against four people and the groups they represent, in order to stop them being part of the Camp for Climate Action.

Weirdly, the injunction isn't against the Camp, just against three groups who've expressed some support for it.

These are direct action group Plane Stupid, local anti-third runway group NOTRAG, and Airport Watch, an umbrella of various organisations such as the National Trust, Greenpeace, the RSPB, the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

This means all their members - some five million people - would be injuncted. Not just from a 100m radius of Heathrow, but from sections of the M4, M25, certain platforms at Paddington station and all of London Underground's Piccadilly line.

Transport for London, who operate the tube, have demanded all mention of their property be removed from the injunction.

Mayor Ken Livingstone called the injunction 'a serious infringement of civil liberties and an attack on the right to peaceful protest' and suggested that perhaps BAA's Spanish owners were under the impression they were still living under Franco. Others have also sprung to the defence of the right to protest.

BAA, sensing their foot-shooting, refused to talk to the press, but theyn issued a statement saying they didn't want to interfere with 'lawful protest'.

Thing is, there are already plenty of laws that criminalise anyone taking, planning or attempting disruptive action at airports. The injunction would redefine what counts as lawful.

It's utterly insane that if you're a member of the RSPB it would be a crime to have a balloon (one of the named prohibited items) on the platform at a tube station 20 miles from the airport.

The injunction is being sought under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, an anti-stalker law designed to protect vulnerable women from vicious ex-boyfriends. The idea that Heathrow - one of the most high-security sites in the country - needs such protectgion from peaceful protesters who've given repeated assurances they won't attempt any mass blockades of runways or anything like that - is ridiculous.

But this is where the battle lines are drawn. Aviation expansion is so extreme that it's BAA and the government on one side, and Livingstone, the RSPB and other such radical hoodlums with us on the other.

Most countries emissions aren't as bad as Heathrow's planes. There is no way Heathrow can operate at anything like current capacity without seriously contributing to climate change. BAA know that as the clamour to reduce emissions grows, so will pressure on them.

They see that organisations like the National Trust and RSPB are asking for us to do what the science demands.

The environmental groups' call will grow louder and more radical as the matter becomes more urgent; the drastic cuts in emissions are actually as reasonable as the National Trust or CPRE's image.

The attempted injunction is about intimidating those people and stifling not merely the right to protest but the demand that we halt climate change before it becomes catastrophic.

BAA's rabid defence of climate change is all the evidence we need that corporations and their friends and puppets in goverment are not going to solve the problem for us. We need to create a mass movement that pushes loudly, clearly and publicly for what we know is necessary. It's already well underway, and it needs everyone who knows the score to stand up and be counted. As the man said, it's a barbed wire fence - which side do you choose?

See you at the Camp.

1 comment:

Calvin Jones said...

Hi Merric

I liked the article that you wrote on aviation and climate change so when I was nominated for the 'Blogging for Positive Global Change' award and asked to nominate five blogs this was one of those nominated by me.

My post with a link to your blog is here:

The original post where this all got started is here:

Best wishes,

Climate Change Action