The British Airports Authority (BAA) effectively scored an own goal in their bid to secure an injunction against the Camp for Climate Action. As was widely reported, the original was massively reduced in scale and severity by the High Court. Initially BAA had applied for a far reaching injunction against four defendants and the members of their associate organisations.
These were Leo Murray and Joss Garman from the direct action group Plane Stupid, John Stewart - Chair of Airport Watch and Geraldine Nicholson from the No Third Runway Action Group (No TRAG). Since Airport Watch is an umbrella group including the National Trust, RSPB and other large organisations, the original injuction would have restricted the movements of approximately 5 million people.
BAA do not want next week's Climate Camp to happen obviously fearing the adverse publicity. They proposed that parts of the M25 and parts of the M4 be out of bounds to potential climate campers as well as platforms 6 and 7 of Paddington station and the entire Piccadilly Line.
As it covered so many people over such a large area, it soon became known as the 'Mother of all Injunctions'. Ken Livingstone, furious that Transport for London had not been consulted prior to BAA's application, publicly waded into the debate, saying that someone at BAA must be "out of their skull."
Unsurprisingly, Mrs Justice Swift told BAA to come back with something workable. On Monday 6th August, BAA were granted an injunction against John Stewart, Leo Murray and Joss Garman and members of Plane Stupid only. It stipulates that these persons are not allowed on Heathrow property. Despite some clever press releases from BAA declaring victory, the whole saga has really been an own goal.
The Climate Camp has received massive coverage from the mainstream press, and will now be bigger than it would otherwise have been. It is not covered by the injunction and it is perfectly legal to attend the camp. BAA's lawyer Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, now known as 'TLC' amongst Climate Campers, had bragged of his track record of using the 1997 Protection from Harrassment Act, a law originally designed to protect women from stalkers, to gain injunctions against animal rights and weapons-manufacture protesters.
He had called himself "a rottweiler" - a market-leader in criminalising otherwise lawful behaviour. Now he looks more like Scooby Doo. The injunction granted was not the Protection from Harrassment sought, but a rather softer injuction under common, not criminal, law.
For the majority of people that will attend the camp (estimates range from 2000 to 4000 people) the injunction does not affect them. However, there are some disturbing consequences for Plane Stupid's members regarding freedom of speech. This is because anyone who breaches the injunction "in concert with Plane Stupid" is also covered.
This means that if anyone from Plane Stupid (that is anyone who has been arrested on Plane Stupid actions and spokespeople) aids, abbets or incites direct action against Heathrow until the 31st August (when the injunction expires), they will be in breach of the injunction.
Plane Stupid has already had to alter one of their workshops at the camp.
Members of Plane Stupid (such as myself) are now having to watch what they say. For example, could acknowledging the importance of direct action to the Chartist and Suffragette movements in a press interview at the camp count as incitement? Our lawyers are unsure.
The Camp for Climate Action will happen at Heathrow from Tuesday 14th- 21st August. Each time Heathrow expands, it is granted permission on the basis that it will not expand further. Terminal 4 was accompanied by a promise there would be no Terminal 5. Terminal 5 was accompanied by a promise there would be no third runway. Terminal 5 is not even open yet, but BAA are already pushing for that third runway and Terminal 6.
For the last thirty years, Heathrow residents have been continuously lied to. Meanwhile, aviation's rapid growth rate threatens to undo all our climate change efforts. The Camp will run a variety of workshops and act as an example of sustainable living. As for the rest, the injunction prevents me from commenting further.
BAA is seeking to stop me and my fellow protesters from approaching Heathrow. But there is nothing 'wild' about our claims - quite the opposite.
It is not often that you wake up to find yourself described in a Times editorial as a "semi-socialist" flat-earther but on the second day of our high court hearing in which BAA is seeking to injunct me (and Lord knows how many more Britons) from even approaching Heathrow, that is the turn of phrase the Thunderer has reached for.
Local residents and environmental activists are used to taking BAA's claims with a pinch of salt. After all, they've seen the company make numerous claims about just how big it wants Heathrow Airport to grow - only to immediately change their mind and demand further expansion.
While the T5 consultation was underway, Mike Roberts, Managing Director of Heathrow Airport Ltd (owned by BAA) sent a letter to local residents claiming that T5 was to be the last assault on their homes and communities. "I'd like to reassure you", he stated, "that [the Airport] will NOT require another runway or an increase in night flights".
The government has formed a cosy relationship with the aviation industry. No wonder environmentalists are preparing for direct action.
The aviation industry used to lobby government. Now it seems they practically are the government. If anyone's still in any doubt of Brown's plans to trample over popular opposition to airport expansion, his most recent appointments give a glimpse of Labour's cosy relationship with the airline industry and lay out the battle lines the green movement will have to face in coming months.
Spokespersons for airline companies have been hard at work, trying to allay public concerns by quoting a 2-3% contribution to global CO2 emissions. As we've come to expect from the aviation industry, this is misleading: the figure corresponds to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 1990. Aviation emissions more than doubled during decade which followed.
These figures also ignore per capita rates: British citizens fly more than those of any other nation except the United States. If everyone flew as much as people in the UK, the figure would be about ten times higher.