Over the past three days, French riot police have been violently evicting inhabitants at The ZAD, that is to say those who are defending the vast area around Nantes which has been earmarked for a new airport.
For years, hundreds of activists have joined locals by moving onto this 1,600 hectare area of rich agricultural land in order to defend it from the threat of a proposed new Nantes airport. Yet in the name of the ‘public good’, over 1,000 riot police began a siege of the area earlier this week. In a bid to clear the ZAD to make way for a new airport, the French authorities have been forcibly removing people from their homes. They arrived armed with helicopters, riot vans, and trucks (to carry away the bricks from the houses they’d destroyed!). Through the use of tear gas, arrest, and the occasional act of arson (on Wednesday, eye witnesses report having seen police burning down someone’s home without even confirming first that it was empty), the riot cops have been violently evicting residents at the ZAD.
The fight against a new Nantes airport has been a high profile affair in France. During the general elections, two local farmers went on a 28 day hunger strike after having been threatened with compulsory purchase orders on the land their families had farmed for generations. The struggle at Nantes has attracted international attention too; in July this year people from all over Europe arrived at the ZAD for the European Forum Against Useless Projects.
Many homes have been evicted at over the last three days to make way for a ‘secure’ zone on the land around the proposed new airport. Yet the activists and locals currently remain in force and are trying to take back the land. Three houses and many fields are still occupied by ZAD residents, who have been joined by supporters and activists from far and wide. The battle is on, and there’s everything to fight for.
If you can get down there to help defend the ZAD, or if you want to send a message of support, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The US Senate passed a bill on Saturday which means US airlines are exempt from paying for their emissions on European Flights.
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which has been enforced by the European Commission since January is dysfunctional at best but the fact that the US cannot even sign up to it is very worrying and sends out the complete wrong message on climate change.
Republican senator John Thune said in a statement:
"The Senate's action today will help ensure that US air carriers and passengers will not be paying down European debt through this illegal tax and can instead be investing in creating jobs and stimulating our own economy."
The Republicans statement should of read:
"The Senate's action today will help ensure that US air carriers and passengers will not worry about climate change and can instead carry on with business as usual as if climate change doesn't even exist."
The US continue to have no programme in place to address its own aviation emissions.
Like the steady roar of planes coming in to land over West London, the aviation industry keeps droning on about expanding London’s airports. Last week’s reshuffle shows Cameron and Osborne are listening to them too.
Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers, two Ministers with whose opposition to the third runway was well known, have found themselves shunted out of the Transport Department. A Number 10 official sniggered that Greening would "have plenty of time to think about runways as her flight to the next developing country circles the airport yet again." (Which doesn’t even make sense, because why would a plane flying to a developing country be circling at Heathrow? Unless Cameron thinks the UK is a developing country? Anyway, I digress.)
Cameron and Osborne have established an inquiry to look into “the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub”. Lest this loaded question prove anything other than a licence to lay tarmac, they asked the former head of the Confederation of British Industry, Howard Davies, to oversee it. Davies was once a special adviser to the climate change denier Lord Lawson. He had to leave the LSE after he was busted for nodding through some chunky donations from Gaddafi’s son. Davies won’t decide to build a third runway until 2015, which means all three parties get to run on a “no third runway unless the commission tells us to build it” platform at the next election.
Residents needn’t worry though, because Boris Johnson is on the case. He’s set up a rival inquiry, proving that the invisible hand of the free market will ensure competition. The Mayor’s inquiry will report in 2013 and, like the government’s commission, will conclude that we need lots of more runway space, because that’s what it is being asked to do. Given that no one is going to build a runway in the Thames Estuary – his preferred solution – Boris gets to oppose the third runway while making it ever more likely that Sipson and Harmondsworth will be buried under tarmac.
None of this means that the third runway will be built, of course. The strongest argument against it isn’t climate change, it’s that the damned thing has no purpose. There is bags of spare capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, which is why Virgin Atlantic was able to offer new routes between London and Manchester days after losing its West Coast train franchise. Using all that spare capacity would be stupid, of course, because flying causes climate change, makes loads of noise and pollutes the air we breathe. But let’s not forget it’s there.
Manchester Airport has announced plans to concrete over former greenbelt land around Sunbank Lane to make way for a 'World Logistics Hub'. The area is currently home to residential houses and greenfields and also borders onto Cotterill Clough - a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The plans involve the construction of around 43 warehouses and office units of various sizes on land adjacent to the A538, as well as 1,473 carparking spaces, 134 bike parking spaces and a re-landscaped green zone. The plans form part of the wider Airport City Enterprise Zone.
The Airport 'anticipate' that 1800 jobs will be created over a 15 year period. However, a report on the wider Airport City proposals in Autumn 2011 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that many of these job creation projections actually involved displacing pre-existing jobs from elsewhere in Manchester, as firms relocate to take advantage of the cheap business rates on offer. The land around Sunbank Lane was recently taken out of the Greenbelt in the Manchester City Council's 'Core Strategy' which was approved in July 2012.
Many residents say they were not informed or consulted of these plans. Audrey O'Donovan said, "As a resident and chairman of Ringway Parish Council I am appalled at the lack of consultation by Manchester Airport when removing Oak Farm and surrounding area out of the green belt and changing the planning status enabling them to once again encroach on our countryside. All in the name of so called progress. What concerns me is the World Logistics Hub as they have called this latest expansion will expand to the other side of the A538 spreading their operations still further into our very small Parish of Ringway."
The Airport have published an 'informal' consultation document with images of the plans. They say they intend to submit a formal planning application to Manchester City Council at some point in August 2012.
Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport organised a 'Biodiversity Walk' around the affected site in May 2010. Shortly after local activists from Manchester Climate Action blockaded the current World Freight Centre and staged an airside protest around the wheel of Monarch Airline jet against plans to expand the airport and demolish local homes.
As a community activist, informed by her reading of popular education, community activism and radical politics, Cathy McCormack has – for over quarter of a century – witnessed each and every day a ‘war without bullets’ being waged remorselessly against herself and other structurally oppressed people: the poor, the ill, the unemployed, the disabled, the stigmatised, the marginalised and the simply different.
Cathy, from Easterhouse Glasgow and author of ‘The Wee Yellow Butterfly’ exposes the war against the poor in Britain and of how poverty and inequality are linked to climate-change during a series of conversations with other activist and academic experts that are fighting back in the front line of this war and trying to save our planet and its people. One of the conversations here follows a few years of part of Plane Stupid's journey in tackling the war from the runways to the streets to the courts......
Cathy’s first guest is Dan Glass a young anti-climate change activist who was nominated as one of Britain’s most effective green activist and notoriously famous for gluing himself to Gordon Brown. Dan was involved in ‘Plane Stupid’ and So We Stand. Dan exposes the links between poverty and inequalities and talks about the direct action which he and his buddies took to stop co2 emissions at their source which resulted in them being arrested twice and put on trial. He also reveals of how the under-cover policecop Mark Kennedy who infiltrated their organisation resulted in their second conviction being rendered un- safe.………..