Picture the scene: it’s early in the morning. The sun is shining and you’re sitting having your breakfast, which happens to be a café au lait and a baguette because, for the purposes of this exercise, you are French. While you quietly contemplate some elaborate existentialist theory (did I mention you’re French?), you notice the post drop through the letterbox. One official looking letter drops to the floor. You open it, cautiously…
Oh là là! What has fallen onto your doormat is nothing less than a compulsory purchase order for your farmstead! That’s right, the farmstead you’ve lived and worked on for as long as you care to remember, the ground you’ve tended to with your own bare hands, your past, your present, your future… All of this is being taken from you. Stolen. Demanded by a government which claims to represent you. And to what end? In order that a multi-billion pound industry can build a new runway over the top of it. Why, you ask? So that they can increase their profit margins of course (tsk, don’t waste our time with stupid questions, Monsieur!!).
Sadly this is no elaborate horror story. This week, the first two farmers in Nantes have been issued with compulsory purchase orders for their land by the government in order to make way for a second Nantes airport. What is particularly dreadful about this is that the authorities who want to build the airport are embroiled in legal challenges from those campaigning against the airport. If the campaigner’s challenges are successful, the airport will be stopped but the farmers will still have lost their land and their livelihood.
Faced with the total destruction of their way of life and the loss of their homes, these brave farmers are fighting back. This week marks the beginning of their hunger strike.
For years campaigners in and around Nantes have been fighting against plans for a new airport. In March, thousands of campaigners took to the streets of Paris to protest against the plans. Many of them had travelled 400km from Nantes to the French capital on their bikes and tractors. This Wednesday, in support of the two farmers and their hunger strike, campaigners set up camp outside the Monument de la Résistance in Nantes with their sheep and tractors! They need your support – please join the campaigners if you can or email them a message of support.
With plans to expand airports popping up all over the EU, there has been an unprecedented EU-wide fight against expansion. As well as fierce battles in Nantes, Plane Stupid activists recently visited anti-airport expansion campaigners in Munich, and in Frankfurt, where campaigners have recently won a ban on night flights. Up to 5,000 thousand campaigners are turning up every Monday to take part in protests in the new airport terminal, with up to 20,000 people showing up for Saturday specials.
Throughout history people have taken bold actions to stop injustices from taking place on their doorstep. The French farmers are now doing just that. By going on hunger strike they are not only standing up for local communities and the climate in the face of powerful corporate interest and single minded politicians, they are demonstrating to us all that we have the ability to take the power back. Join them, and let’s take that power back together.
On May 3rd, the same day as the London Mayoral elections, The Climate Justice Collective will be taking to the streets to block the energy monopoly going on behind closed doors at the UK Energy Summit.
The summit will see companies from the Big Six including EDF, EON, RWE Npower and Scottish Power, as well as oil giants like Shell and BP, conspiring with government to line their pockets at the cost of climate crisis and millions of people locked into fuel poverty. The UK Energy Summit is the wrong people asking the wrong questions and proposing the wrong solutions.
The Big Six energy companies are the obstacle to an energy system that could keep the sea levels down and get the heating on in fuel poverty homes. We want a fair, democratic and clean energy system, not a corporate monopoly - the UK Energy Summit cannot go ahead!
Be in Central London on Thursday 3rd May. Be ready to go at 11am. Keep an eye out on our Twitter (@CJ_Collective) for updates on meeting points and live and instant action plans.
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.