Of course, we don’t know the private thoughts of Mr Osborne about Heathrow. We do know he likes big infrastructure. He keeps telling us that it’s essential for economic growth. That may include a new runway at Heathrow. But he’s been forced to say that the Tories won’t build one. He knows that, if people think they will renege on their promise, Boris wouldn’t be elected as Mayor of London. He knows, too, that Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who has been a vocal and effective opponent of a third runway, would need to resign. And Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith has said he would resign his seat and force a by-election if the Tories changed their mind. A U-turn would also be a gift to Labour leader Ed Milliband now that his party has dropped its support for a third runway.
Deep down, I suspect, George and Ed, and particularly Justine, know that a third runway at Heathrow has become impossible to build. They don’t want to face Plane Stupid on the roof of Parliament again, far less the thousands of people who would lose their homes or the hundreds of thousands under the Heathrow flight path.
Some in the industry, like BAA, seem still to cling to their impossible dream that one day they will get their third runway. This is a big reason for their current campaign for more airport capacity and for the adverts plastered all over the London Underground: “The road to economic recovery isn’t a road – it’s a flight path.”
However, most in business and the aviation industry would settle for a new runway anywhere in the south-east. And this is where Osborne is dangerous. Last year he said in his autumn statement the Government would "explore all options for maintaining the UK's aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow". And recently David Cameron told big business “I'm not blind to the need to increase airport capacity, particularly in the south-east” before adding pointedly “Gatwick is emerging as a business airport for London, under a new owner competing with Heathrow”.
Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne, CO2 does the same harm to the environment whether the plane comes from Heathrow or Gatwick. Plane Stupid are booking our train tickets for Gatwick. Singles. Returns won’t be necessary until you get serious on the climate science and drop all airport expansion plans.
What’s going on behind closed doors? The government’s “sustainable aviation strategy” which was due for publication this week is delayed to the end of the summer, with no reasons given. Could it be something to do with Sir Colin Matthews from BAA and his band of environmental psychopaths bullying the government into dropping its last vestiges of being the greenest government of them all?
They are running an advertising campaign across London fraudulently declaring the “route to economic recovery is a flight path.” Just in case BAA doesn’t understand basic economics, our economy is in a mess because of high oil prices, bankrupt banks and rising food prices. Building new runways will not sort out the mess that we are in – it will make things far worse.
Not content to limit itself to a fraudulent advertising campaign, BAA has got its favourite self-interested economic groups and journalists to vomit up reports on how economic growth can only happen with a third runway. Without it, they claim all business will go to Europe where every airport, runway and strip of tarmac will be expanded into an international hub. None of these pundits recognise that across Europe people have been inspired by the protests that stopped Heathrow and are organising themselves in their thousands to stop further destructive airport expansions.
And one more thought for Sir Colin and his band of environmental psychopaths – you lost the last time and you lost everywhere. You lost in the law courts, you lost in the press, you lost public opinion and you lost at the ballot box. You lost for the simple reason that any reasonable person knows it is wrong to deliberately destroy the future through policies which knowingly worsen the already terrible plight our young people face through climate change.
So the message to Sir Colin is this - resign. Your pursuit of a failed and immoral business strategy renders you inappropriate to run a powerful corporation. Your policy is to deliberately poison the air for the young people of today and violate their human rights.
Here's an old blog we just found that never got posted and which acts as a good reminder of why you should never trust the media. It had been pretty obvious that revenge was going to be had for ‘Tillygate‘. Strathclyde police had been seething after we caught them trying to bribe one of our Plane Stupid activists into spying on the group. But the weapon designed to strike the killing blow – the Mail on Sunday – misfired rather spectacularly.
First things first: a confession (of sorts). I was working for Cavendish Knights, a non-sexual male escort agency. I accompanied well-heeled ladies to business conferences and lunches. It’s good work – I like talking to people – and it helped me pay back my many thousands of pounds of student loans. It’s a reputable business, which has featured in such venerable journalistic outlets as… the Daily Mail.
So I met up with Jane, who described herself as a recent divorcee. She wanted me to accompany her to educational conferences abroad: in Madrid, Brussels or South Africa. I was happy to, but wasn’t prepared to fly. We discussed sending me by Eurostar and the difficulties of getting to Jo’burg without flying. Although she hinted a couple of times, I made it perfectly clear: I won’t be joining the Mile High Club. Not for love, and certainly not for money.
She called me back. She wasn’t a client now, but a journalist, for the Mail. They were running an expose on me. I told her I was worried: we both knew I’d refused to fly, but the Mail is more renowned for ‘creative’ stories about celebrities and immigrants than attention to fact or detail. She assured me they wouldn’t make anything up. I didn’t believe her (she’d already lied to me once), so made sure I recorded the conversation.
Which turned out to be a good thing in hindsight, because splashed across the paper was exactly what I feared: a hatchet job about how I was prepared to sod the climate so long as I got paid enough. She’d got her story, but I had my recording… and the phone number of some lawyers. Because Jane, when you make things up about people, and print it in the paper, it’s called libel, and I get to sue the pants off you.
Figuratively, not literally, of course. This was, after all, a non-sexual escorting job.
Dan Glass is available for barmitzvahs, dinner, conferences and all good children’s parties. Contact Cavendish Knights for details.
“The Saturday Congress, run by JBN (Young Bavarian Friends of the Earth) was sensational. It filled all who attended it, from Munich, Freising and Attaching, with a new courage and confidence. We now all believe that Munich can and will be the German Heathrow. It is now clear: we can stop the third runway at Munich.” Report by a German activist who caught up with activists from Plane Stupid this week in Germany who are there visiting to build networks with those involved in stopping a 3rd runway at Munich Airport.
Perhaps it is best to report chronologically everything that happened at the initiative of the JBN in recent days: press conference on Friday, climate conference on Saturday, meetings with local residents in Freising on Sunday followed by a candle-lit march and short church service, attended by hundreds of people, and on Monday a meeting with the key councilors in Freising.
But more than that – and critical to the success of the visit – were the evenings socializing between the resistance in Bavaria and our visitors from London: Dan Glass (Plane Stupid), Tamsin Omond (Climate Rush) and John Stewart, who chaired the coalition which stopped the third runway at London Heathrow. It has created friendships that go far beyond national borders. None of us who saw 62 year-old John Stewart dance the night away with our young JBN volunteers will ever forget how beautiful and how true it is that we all fight together with a lot of fun and commitment to combat climate change - worldwide!
On Friday morning our London guests met Dr. Christian Magerl (Chairman of the BN KG Freising - the local group opposed to the runway - a Green Party member of the Bavarian Parliament and an early opponent of the third runway) and Martin Geilhufe (who chairs Young Bavarian Friends of the Earth). They also met with the press on the site of the proposed new runway on land the local group has acquired and on which it has built a cross. By now it was clear the situation in London in 2002 and the present situation in Bavaria are absolutely comparable: a new runway which would devastate the local community, increased noise and climate emissions and a runway for which there was no economic justification.
The JBN Climate Congress on Saturday became a great success thanks to the papers by Christine Margraf (BN Reginalreferentin and runway expert) and John Stewart; the workshops by Dan Glass, Tamsin Omond and Helga Stiegl Meier (representative of the residents’ umbrella organisation). All participants were excellent. The conference ended with videos of the 3rd runway campaign at Heathrow.
After a hard Saturday, a quiet Sunday was planned. But it turned out to be as busy as Saturday’s climate convention. The site visit to Attaching, the community where homes will be demolished and which will find itself on the edge of the new runway, was something else again. We had lunch with the local residents who told us horror stories of the measures that would need to be taken to secure the tiles on the roofs if the new runway was built and of how regulations would prevent children from the local kindergarten playing outside because the noise from the planes will be so harmful.
In the afternoon we returned to nearby Freising to have tea with some more residents before going to a local, packed Protestant church where our guests were welcomed by thunderous applause which lasted for several minutes. Our guests then joined 400 citizens of this small town on a candle-lit march to protest against the third runway (the residents do this every week!). The local people felt that the three people from London had brought them hope. We all then marched with torches and candles to Marienplatz, the main square of Freising where a short service was held. John, Dan and Tamsin then brought greetings from London and sang along with everyone: It was the most spine-tingling moment of the entire weekend.
Plane Stupid are building in Germany. The campaign against the third runway at Munich could become the German Heathrow - where community action successfully brought the government to it's knees.
Determined local residents are coming together with climate change activists to stop an unnecessary runway. Together with the protests at Frankfurt and Berlin it could bring about a big change in German aviation policy.
25th February - Munich - After a match between Bayern and United Kingdom, countless phone calls and Skype conferencing - all topics are concerned about the protest against the third runway. Here we go! The main question to be explored is what Munich can learn from the Londoners.
29th February – Berlin – Event Launch: ‘Strategies of Protest from London to Berlin’ what creative tools can we share to put a spanner in the works of injustice? Plane Stupid meets Eclectic Electric Collective
Wednesdays announcement that the government will consider building a new airport in the Thames Estuary, dubbed 'Boris Island' sparked a long day of media hysteria.
Boris Johnson's voice echoed out over our TVs, Radios and newspapers the next day and Plane Stupid came under pressure to get a representative to appear on Sky News and Newsnight in response.
We are totally baffled by it all. 'Boris Island' airport is to be built on an artificial island and would result in 150 million more passengers a year which is serious bad news for the climate. We can't allow airport expansion on this scale and meet our climate change reduction targets at the same time – the two government policies are mutually incompatible and cannot both succeed.
The other little problem is the fact that the Thames Estuary is basically a bird sanctuary. Birds and planes don't match – simple as that.
Here are some other useful facts that need to be included in the debate:
The UK fly on average twice as much than any other country in the world already.
The most popular destination out of Heathrow is Paris and 3rd is Manchester. If we reduced these unnecessary flights there would be plenty of capacity at Heathrow Airport
Aviation is the fasting growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
If aviation grows at its projected annual rates then aviation will take up 100% or more of our national carbon budget some time between 2030 and 2050.
Between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City and Luton; London already has 6 runways and 10 terminals.
Only Boris could come up with an idea as daft as this, building an airport in a tidal estuary when we are facing a future of rising sea levels due in part to emissions from aviation.
For now we will just be keeping a close eye on it but if given the go ahead the Thames Estuary Airport could represent an activists dream. Building an airport on an artificial island is such an enormous logistical project that it would be child's play to disrupt it!