#Heathrow13: Join the fightback

UPDATE: Great news, the Heathrow 13 didn't go to jail, so we're saving the flash mob at Heathrow for another day. As such you can have your Saturday morning back, or perhaps you'd like to go along to the Stop Trident demo instead? If so there is an Arms to Renewables Climate bloc you can join

13 Plane Stupid activists have been spared jail today for protesting against new runways that would cause climate chaos.

This is a huge relief for the activists and their families, and a massive boost for the movement to stop airport expansion. The court's U-turn over a prison sentence is a vindication of the right to peaceful protest.

At a time when we need to be cutting emissions rapidly, the Government is planning new runways to massively increase them. And to get away with it, it's trying to shut climate change out of the debate.

Can you help carry on what the Heathrow13 have started?

It's because of people power that we don't have a third runway now. People power will stop new runways again. We're in it for the long haul. No ifs, no buts.

Here are a few ways you can stand with the #Heathrow13

1. Take back the media

Those pushing for new runways are trying to keep climate change out of the debate. They hope harsh sentences will help shut that conversation down. But we can stop them.

Here’s how:

Visit Heathrow’s Facebook page and leave polite comments and replies on their latest posts. You can also leave a one star review along with a comment.

We think it’s always stronger if you use your own words, but if you’re not sure what to say we’ve prepared some talking points below to help you write your message:

  • Prince Charles has said that drought linked to climate change is a 'major reason' for 4 million Syrians becoming refugees - those 4 million need emissions cuts now, not new runways. I support the #Heathrow13.
  • At a time when we urgently need to be cutting emissions rapidly, why are you planning a new runway to massively increase them? I support the #Heathrow13.
  • Heathrow’s emissions aren’t just a threat to polar bears. They are killing people now, and another runway will hugely increase that death toll. I support the #Heathrow13.
  • A third runway at Heathrow will exacerbate the air pollution crisis that’s already costing thousands of lives every year. I support the #Heathrow13.
  • The aviation industry is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. How can we take meaningful action to prevent catastrophic climate change while it continues to expand? I support the #Heathrow13.

Leave a Google Review. Google Heathrow Airport, and leave a polite one star review letting them know what you think of new runways. Again you can use your own words or the talking points. Like and rate other activists' reviews - this will make our message go further.

Done those and have some more time? Great! Here are some more ways we can get our message across on social media:

On Twitter:  Click here to tweet Heathrow Airport.

If you’d prefer to use your own wording, just tweet at @HeathrowAirport - again you might find the talking points helpful - and use #heathrowcommunity and #hexupdates.

You can also reply to @HeathrowAirport’s tweets and use #heathrow and #takingbritainfurther.

On Instagram: Use #heathrowairport and comment on posts by @heathrow_airport.

On Google+: Use #heathrowairport and comment on posts at the Heathrow page.

On Yelp: Leave a polite one-star review at their Yelp page

On YouTube: Comment on LHRHeathrow's videos and at youtube.com/user/LHRHeathrow/discussion

 

2. Sign & share the petition

Join us in asking David Cameron to stick to his "No if, No buts" promise and pledge to reject any new runways, at Heathrow or elsewhere.

 

3. Show solidarity with La ZAD's mobilisation on Saturday 27th February

 

4. Join the Groundswell year of action for climate justice

If we want real social change, that means taking bold, effective direct action. Reclaim The Power will provide 'out of the box actions', ideas for tools and sites of action, support and training for anyone who wants to build their confidence gradually or save time on action planning.

The Reclaim the Power website will soon have a secure media sharing platform developed for the purpose, which will update participants about others' regular actions, providing inspiration and motivation to work together.

Now the dust from the Paris conference has settled, it’s time to set ourselves a challenge: can we do more for climate justice in one year than UN COP negotiators have achieved in the last twenty one? Get involved by ringing or emailing Reclaim the Power.

 

5. Share the video

 

Finally, why not reward yourself and come to Grow Heathrow's 6th birthday party from 4th to 6th March?

Thank you for standing with the Heathrow 13 and saying no to climate-wrecking new runways. Together we can expose who is really guilty here.

Mystery Heathrow 13 supporters stick it to the bill

Tags:

This weekend posters in support of the #Heathrow13 have mysteriously popped up in bus shelters across London. The artwork are made up of designs by campaigners, including Wretched of the Earth. The posters criticise plans for airport expansion and advertise the upcoming court solidarity demonstration for the Heathrow 13 sentencing at Willesden Magistrates Court on Wednesday 24th at 9am.

The 13 people were found guilty last month of aggravated trespass and being on a runway without permission after they closed the northern runway last July in opposition to airport expansion. Hundreds are expected to gather for the solidarity demonstration where the 13 have been told by district judge Deborah Wright “to expect an immediate custodial sentence”.

One of the posters reads “Imperialist History Is Repeating Itself. No to Co2lonialism, No to new runways”, whilst another focuses on the links between climate change and migration, emphasising the plight of climate refugees with a take on an ‘Emirates’ airlines advert with the logo altered to say ‘Emigrate’ with the hashtag #NoBorders.

The artworks were placed in the cases without permission and although the identity of the mysterious poster installers is unknown, it shares many of the attributes of the anti-advertising art group Brandalism, "a revolt against corporate control of the visual realm". Since 2012 there have been take overs of advertising in public spaces in over ten UK cities as well as in Paris during the climate talks last year, where hundreds of posters mysteriously appeared.

See if you can spot one of the posters around town before the authorities find them and take them down. But in case you miss them, here are a few that we've seen.

Sentencing & demonstration: Wed 24th Feb, 9am

Tags:



The #Heathrow13 will return to court for final sentencing, having all been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering the security restricted area of London Heathrow Airport’s north runway. All 13 have been told by District Judge Deborah Wright that they "should all come expecting custodial sentences”.

Please come and join us outside the court at 9am sharp, together with Heathrow residents and others, to say that climate justice is the only appropriate form of justice here, and that we need to Stop Aviation Expansion & Stop Co2lonialism! Wear red clothing to show that
that prison time for protecting the climate is a #Redline. Sentencing is expected to take 1 to 2 hours.

The full address for the court is:
Willesden Magistrates’ Court
448 High Road
London
NW10 2DZ
Nearest tube: Neasden or Dollis Hill (Jubilee Line)

For the latest info see the Facebook event.

No one will be allowed to stand in the public gallery - only to occupy the 26 seats which will be ticketed, following a letter from the court. These tickets will mostly go to family of the defendants. After the judge told the defendants to prepare for prison, people in the public gallery had shouted out, "shame on you", "this is a farce" and "history will judge". The letter says the new restriction is due to "a potential risk to health and safety". The court has also said "access to the concourse of Willesden Magistrates Court will not be permitted to anyone not in possession of a ticket [except] press" because "on the last occasion there was a great deal of noise". There had been clapping and cheering after the defendants left the courtroom.

Speakers will include MPs, residents who would lose their homes to new runways, environmental activists and voices working with communities on the front line of climate change, floods and drought. Why not print off a picture of David Cameron's face and tie some elastic to it for a mask? After all, he opposes new runways at Heathrow, 'no ifs, no buts'.

Separately, the trial for the three activists who blockaded Heathrow's road entrance tunnel will be on Tue 19th and Wed 20th April at Willesden Magistrates Court. Start time is 10am - arrive by 9.30 for a bag check. They pleaded not guilty to a charge of breaching a specific Heathrow Airport byelaw: obstructing a tunnel/tunnel access road at Heathrow Airport. This carries a maximum sentence of a fine.

Judgment Day

Verdict? Innocent

Legal verdict? Guilty.

As we prepare ourselves for the likelihood of an unusually harsh sentence on February 24th  - the Judge told us to prepare for prison, and implied it could be the maximum of 3 months - we sit reeling from the institutional failure of the legal system to address the biggest and deadliest problem of our time.

A guilty verdict may have been a forgone conclusion in the eyes of the law, but today has been an extraordinary day for climate change activists the world over.

The issue of climate change, its connection to the aviation industry, and its resultant massive loss of life have not once been disputed in the proceedings of the trial. In her closing remarks, Judge Wright said: “There can be no doubt that the defendants are very committed to tackling the problems of climate change and that they acted as they did on the 13th July in what they genuinely believed was in the best interests of the public and society as a whole”. She called us “principled” and “passionate” people.  She accepted that climate change was a problem and that we were doing what we could to stop carbon emissions.

This acceptance, however, appears to have had no bearing whatsoever on the verdict we have received, and the sentencing we now face. After warning us to prepare for prison, the judge said 'I cannot think of a more serious case of aggravated trespass', implying that she may give the maximum, which is 3 months inside for our charge (aggravated trespass). If we had been taken to court for more serious charges (eg, public nuisance, which we arrested for), we could have had a trial by jury. Unlike judges, juries have previously found people not guilty for similar actions.

With his opening statement this morning, the prosecution lawyer attempted to paint us as crusaders against democracy, taking the law into our own hands and seeking a defence based on “criminal self-help” rather than necessity.  His summation ran into the following confusing circularity: “sober and reasonable people don’t break the law”, and “it is my job to decide whether a sober and reasonable person would have broken the law in these circumstances.”  Well, no surprises then when he decided that they wouldn’t have. But that was a forgone conclusion. A system that defines reasonableness as following the law can’t acknowledge the possibility of a reasonable breach. 

 Defence lawyer, Mr Greenhall, put it well when he said (I paraphrase):

Suppose our small group had just learned that Chernobyl was about explode, Madam, and had tried to do something to prevent the inevitable and catastrophic impact on human life.  Suppose our group felt compelled to act, and that they decided to chain themselves to the reactor in an attempt to physically prevent further leakage and future explosion.  This group would have had both the support of the public, in whose interest they were acting, and also the support of the law. Even if the deaths from Chernobyl were somewhat removed in both space and time; even if they could not name the people who would be affected; even if the group had waved banners warning about the dangers of future expansion of the plant, the necessity defence would have been open to them, and they would have won. Their actions would be reasonable to prevent loss of life. The #Heathrow13 find themselves in a very similar situation. And this is the defence that should prevail today.

 Unfortunately, it has not prevailed.

When Lawyer Mr Chada ended his statement with some words from Robert Kennedy, the Judge was still to announce her decision.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and, daring those ripples, build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 

These words feel all the more powerful now the verdict has been made.

Climate change has already claimed many lives, and it is the continued negligence of governance that forces citizens to act in their stead. We are not hooligans. We are not heroes. We are ordinary people who acted against the letter of the law in the face of complete failure of the authorities to act in the service of what we, and many, many others, know to be the major issue we face today.

#Heathrow13 Trial Verdict - Press Release

Runway Occupation on Trial – Verdicts

Monday, January 20th, 2016, London – Today in Willesden Magistrates Court, the thirteen Plane Stupid activists who occupied Heathrow’s north runway for six hours on the 13th of July last year were all convicted of aggravated trespass and being airside without lawful authority. The Judge has asked them all to return in 3 weeks on the 24th February for sentencing and has advised all defendants to prepare for immediate custodial sentences. 

The thirteen defendants released the following statement, in response to their convictions:

“Today's judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

“We are very grateful for all the messages of support and solidarity we have received from all over the world, and are immensely proud of the action we took to combat emissions from aviation. Climate change and air pollution from Heathrow are killing people now, and the government's response is to spend millions making the problem bigger. As long as airport expansion is on the agenda, Plane Stupid will be here. We're in it for the long haul.“

Most of the defence’s witness evidence was not heard in court, and none of the witnesses were allowed to appear in court. John McDonnell was not heard in full due to the Judge having already accepted the points he was addressing, and therefore ruling the statement irrelevant.

Her ruling on John McDonnell’s evidence is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/judge-wrights-ruling-john-mcdonnells-witness-statement

And John McDonnell’s full statement is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/witness-statement-john-mcdonnell-mp

Statements from three local residents from the Heathrow area were read out, detailing the debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions they were suffering from as a consequence of living near to the airport.

Character references for the defendants were also read out in court, from a variety of public figures including High Court Judge Peter Jackson and a long list of barristers and solicitors.

Alice Bowes-Larkin, one of the UK’s leading climate scientists, and a specialist in the climate impacts of aviation, submitted a statement which was read to the court. It mentioned that Heathrow “is the airport with the highest CO2 contribution in the world in terms of combined international and domestic flights” and “this puts Heathrow expansion at odds with the UK Government’s commitment to avoiding a ‘well below’ 2’C target, unless a major programme of efficiency and biofuel development are delivered in tandem.”

Sian Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for the London mayoral elections, came to court to support the defendants, despite her evidence having been ruled as inadmissible by the judge. Her statement is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/sian-berry-statement

George Monbiot’s statement was also ruled inadmissible, and is available here –

http://planestupid.com/blogs/2016/01/20/george-monbiot-statement

Writing on how the activists will be seen in the future, he said:

“They will be regarded not as outlaws and subversives, but as democratic heroes. Succeeding generations, struggling with the impacts that our government’s failures to take action on climate change bequeathed them, are likely to be amazed that they could have been seen in any other light.”

In all, of the ten defence witnesses, only four had their evidence allowed, and none were permitted to appear in court.

The runway occupation, under the banner of anti-aviation expansion group Plane Stupid and the first on a Heathrow runway, lasted six hours and delayed or cancelled dozens of flights. The activists, who are all pleading not guilty, are accused of aggravated trespass and trespassing airside without authority.

The defendants are Sheila Menon, 43, of Hackney, east London, Rebecca Holly Sanderson, 27, of Machynlleth, Powys; Richard Steven Hawkins, 32, and Kara Lauren Moses, 31, both of Heol y Doll, Machynlleth; Ella Gilbert, 23, of Finsbury Park, north London; Melanie Strickland, 32, of Waltham Forest, north-east London; Danielle Louise Paffard, 28, of Peckham, south-east London; Graham Edward James Thompson, 42, of Hackney, north-east London; Cameron Joseph Kaye, 23, Edward Thacker, 26, Alistair Craig Tamlit, 27, and Sam Sender, 23, all of West Drayton, west London; and Robert Anthony Basto, 67, of Reigate, Surrey.

ENDS

Contact

Plane Stupid on 07745 207 765 or press@planestupid.com 

www.planestupid.com

@planestupid

#heathrow13

#nonewrunways

-----

NOTES

Previous coverage:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/20/heathrow-third-runway-protesters-trial-freedom-fighters

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12105559/Plane-Stupid-activists-accused-of-chaining-themselves-to-Heathrow-runway-hold-protest-outside-court.html

http://www.itv.com/news/london/2016-01-18/trial-begins-for-13-climate-activists-over-heathrow-runway-protest/ 

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/635836/Plane-Stupid-demonstration-Heathrow-runway-three 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/17/john-mcdonnell-evidence-heathrow-climate-activists-trial 

BACKGROUND 

Defence summary

The defendants have all pleaded not guilty and argue that their action was necessary due to the airport's contribution to life-threatening climatic changes. Furthermore, Heathrow expansion is inhumane to the local residents and those at the sharp end of climate change, and hugely environmentally destructive. The fact that it’s still being considered at all is a testament to the superiority of corporate lobbying over democracy and scientific evidence. The defendants are represented by barristers instructed by Mike Schwarz of Bindmans, and Raj Chada of Hodge Jones and Allen. Defence witnesses (if not deemed inadmissible by the court) will include politicians, scientists, local residents and prominent authors.  

Heathrow is a big issue

Heathrow’s third runway has been the biggest iconic battleground for both climate change activism and local resistance to imposed national infrastructure. The issue has become such a political hot potato it has been kicked down the road by every government for decades.

This was the first, much anticipated runway occupation at LHR

After years of scare stories from the press that climate activists were planning to occupy the runways at Heathrow, in July 2015 it finally happened. There was international coverage in 2007 of Climate Camp pitching up on Heathrow’s doorstep for a week, and ten years of continuous pressure from Plane Stupid, Greenpeace and other groups, who occupied various runways but never Heathrow. But last July, David Cameron’s grinding slow-motion U-turn on the issue drove thirteen activists to occupy and close the north runway at Heathrow at 4.00am on July 13th, 2015, for the first time.

Activists including a climate science graduate and many with no previous convictions, all risking three month prison terms

Some of the activists were new to aviation protests, some were more experienced activists, like 67y/o atmospheric physicist Rob, and 23y/o climate science graduate Ella. Some are residents of Sipson who have and continue to campaign against the third runway in a variety of ways, like 23y/o Cameron and 26y/o Eddy, some from London, like 32y/o Melanie who works for a health charity, and the first Plane Stupid activist to ever be arrested in 2005, 42y/o Graham, others from further afield, including three from Wales. Most of the activists have no previous convictions. They are all facing up to three months in prison.

Action was effective, disruptive and difficult to move

The occupation took the form of a sophisticated ‘lock-on’, with the legs of a tripod of scaffolding poles piercing a triangular cage of Heras fencing, with one or two activists locked to every corner, and everything connected to everything else, to make the whole structure as immovable as possible. It took the specialist police extraction squad over six hours to remove them from the runway, during which time many flights had to be cancelled.

Runway is ‘all or nothing’ issue

The reason Heathrow is such a unique, iconic battleground in national politics is that it has come to represent the big test of a government’s seriousness about climate change. Dirty energy infrastructure can be replaced with clean, local issues can be resolved by relocation, but aviation is always extremely dirty, with no clean tech version in production. Local residents oppose Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as other airports around the country which had expansion plans before the problems of aviation expansion became well known. And they are campaigning not for the new runway to be somewhere else, but for there to be no new runways. The third runway is all-or-nothing, there is no room for compromise.

HTW’s emissions are illegal, 3rd runway would be more so

The environmental progress made globally, in Europe, and in the UK prior to 2010, has left a legislative trail. Heathrow’s air quality is the worst outside central London, with NOx and other pollutants well above the legal maxima (and London breached its EU air pollution limits for the whole year in just eight days). And the 2008 Climate Change Act includes legally binding emissions targets which ‘business as usual’ expansion of aviation would wreck. Heathrow’s current operations are illegally polluting, and a new runway is not going to improve things.

Broad opposition led to runway cancellation, and will again

The intensity of the opposition to Heathrow, which encompasses MPs, cabinet ministers and all the London mayoral candidates from all parties, as well as the current London Mayor, the local councils, residents’ groups, green NGOs and direct activists like Plane Stupid, finally stopped what had only a few years earlier been seen as an entirely inevitable development in 2010. David Cameron, between hugging huskies and declaring his government the greenest ever, made the now infamous election pledge ‘no ifs, no buts, no third runway’, and many west Londoners voted for that pledge. That huge coalition of opposition is ready to come back together to oppose a new runway in the courts, at the ballot box, and on the ground.

Runway pledge Cameron’s last shred of integrity, tories’ last shred of greenery

Now his supposed opposition to the third runway is the last flaky patch of greenwash still adhering to the tory brand. As foreign leaders and UN officials voice their confusion at Cameron’s government trying to shut down the clean tech sector and prop up the industries of the last century, as Britain sweeps up the debris from the climate impacts already hitting us, and as the entire world from the US to China, agrees to a more urgent climate stabilisation programme, Heathrow is the last memory of Cameron’s ‘modernisation’ programme for his party.

System doesn’t work, so we need direct action

The government continues to promise to deal with climate change, most recently at the COP in Paris and in wellies in Cumbria, whilst continuing to make it worse and hope no-one puts two and two together. The thirteen activists, all facing possible prison sentences, have watched the continuous parade of lies and broken promises from Heathrow and successive governments, and realised that no amount of scientific evidence will be enough to make them stay within the law or safe emission limits, and citizens need to stand up against the lobbying power of major industries before it’s too late. When the Prime Minister is set to break a ‘no ifs, no buts’ pre-election and manifesto pledge, civil disobedience is needed to uphold democracy. The runway occupation is what democracy looks like.