5 days exchange between London and Bavaria
“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.