airport expansion

Press Release: Protesters blockade mock runway outside Parliament to oppose airport expansion

Protesters blockade mock runway outside Parliament to oppose airport expansion

For more information, to organise interviews, photos:, @reclaimthepower, 07780 014541 & 07873 719446. Photos and footage available here.

Activists have blockaded a mock runway outside Parliament to oppose airport expansion and highlight  the inequality of catastrophic climate impacts on the day a government announcement is expected.

This morning, 40 Activists locked together using ‘arm tubes’ on a mock runway outside Parliament to signal their intent to continue fighting airport expansion. Air traffic controllers with “STOP” paddles lined the runway highlighting the need to stop climate change as well as noise and air pollution. Other campaigners and local residents held a banner reading “Climate Change Kills, No New Runways.”

Shona Kealey spokesperson for Plane Stupid, said,

“Two weeks ago, enough countries agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to come into force. Last week, the government’s climate advisers issued a report saying reducing aviation emissions should be a priority if we’re going to honour the Climate Change Act. And now, with today’s announcement, our government proclaims to the world that we’re a dishonest and unreliable nation who can’t be trusted to keep to our international agreements or even follow our own laws, just as we’re about to renegotiate trade agreements with the whole world.

“Obedience to this government is suicide. If they think we’re going to quietly follow them over the cliff, they’re dreaming.

Speaking for Reclaim the Power, Stephanie Nicholls said,

“We can honour our commitments to tackle climate change, or we can build new runways - we can’t do both. Aviation expansion anywhere is irresponsible, and globally will impact the most on the people who’ve done least to cause the problem. Climate change is already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.

“When the government won’t follow its own rules, it’s time for normal people to step up and take action. Following today's announcement climate activists, council leaders and local residents will be standing together to make any new runways undeliverable. If the government thinks they can override local opinion, climate science and their own commitments they’ve got another thing coming.”

Throughout the day, local residents and environmental campaigners will be in the Five Bells Pub in Harmondsworth (Harmondsworth High Street, UB7 0AQ) to demonstrate continuing opposition to airport expansion and will be available for interview. Contact: Rob Barnstone, 07806 947050.

Local residents from Gatwick CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions) will be meeting at the Plough Inn, Ifield from midday to watch the decision. Contact: Sally Pavey,, 07831 632537.

We are expecting new direct action network Rising Up to announce escalating direct action against airport expansion following the government announcement. Contact: Simon Bramwell, 07760 556177,

Aviation facts:

  • Flying is the most emissions-intensive form of transport and the fastest growing cause of climate change.

  • Globally, aviation emissions are forecast to balloon by 300% by 2050.

  • A new runway at Heathrow is predicted to increase local noise and air pollution as well as produce an extra 9 Megatonnes of CO2 per year, exceeding the safe limits recommended by the Committee on Climate Change and accelerating devastating climate change.

  • This growth is incompatible with UK climate targets as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

  • The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), assembled right now in Montreal, has not proposed any plans so far to limit the CO2 emissions from aviation.

  • Globally, flying benefits a privileged few - only 3-7% of people have flown - and even in the UK a 15% minority of the population take 70% of flights. In contrast, the damaging impacts of aviation are experienced by everyone - climate change will affect the entire world population but is hitting some of the poorest, most vulnerable areas (where people do not fly) first and worst.

  • The aviation industry enjoys a number of tax breaks: most substantially there is no duty on aircraft fuel or VAT on tickets, a ‘major anomaly’ according to the World Bank and IMF. This money could be invested in sustainable transport, in improving rail connections around the UK and internationally.

  • A large proportion of Heathrow flights are short haul, these routes could be better, and more sustainably, serviced by improved rail infrastructure. Past experience shows this: since the Eurostar has been running the number of flights from London to Paris and Brussels has fallen dramatically (by nearly half and a third, respectively).

  • If Heathrow expands, it would be responsible for more emissions than any other single site in the UK, including Drax the UK’s largest power station.


  • In July 2015 the Davies Report recommended building a third runway at Heathrow airport.

  • In July 2016 London City airport was given the go-ahead for expansion to accommodate larger aircraft and more traffic.

  • A Cabinet vote on a new runway at a London airport is expected on 25th October; Theresa May announced 29/09 that there was cabinet support for Heathrow.

  • There will then be 12-18 months for consultation before a final decision about expansion.

  • The UN body for the aviation industry met between 26th Sept - 7th Oct this year for the World Aviation Forum, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly. They agreed on using Carbon Offsets as a voluntary market mechanism to make aviation 'sustainable'; though the agreement ultimately fell short of the ICAO’s own target of a system which ‘offsets’ all future growth in aviation emissions - the agreement is expected to cover 80%.

  • Around the world, international anti-aviation expansion movements took action around the same time:

Notes to editor:

The protest was jointly organised by Reclaim the Power, a grassroots direct action network taking action for social and environmental justice, and Plane Stupid, a network of grassroots groups that take non-violent direct action against aviation expansion.

A full statement from Plane Stupid responding to the decision will be available here.

Reclaim the Power’s most recent action was the #StayGrounded “die in” and bike ride at Heathrow earlier this month. Other previous actions include the high profile anti-fracking camp in Balcombe in 2013 and mass occupation of the UK’s largest open-cast coal mine, Ffos-y-fran, earlier in 2016.

Plane Stupid has been taking action against aviation expansion since 2005. They occupied Stansted, East Midlands, Aberdeen and Heathrow airports, shut down easyJet and BAA’s headquarters, stopped private jets at Biggin Hill, London City and Edinburgh airports; sat atop the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament, supported the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow, worked with local residents to defend their homes from the bulldozers; exposed a corporate spy and ‘slimed’ Peter Mandelson.


The group made headlines in July 2015 with a blockade of the Northern runway at Heathrow, and the high profile trial of the ‘Heathrow 13’, who narrowly escaped a prison sentence and becoming the first ‘climate prisoners’ in the UK.

Reclaim the Power announce #StayGrounded action will take place at Heathrow

Reclaim the Power have recently announced that the #Staygrounded international day of action against airport expansion will be going to Heathrow Airport on the 1st of October!

There will be two blocs: a flashmob (a family friendly creative action) and a critical mass-style bike ride, both meeting separately around midday.

Exact meeting details will be revealed to those who have pledged to take part in the action on - so if you haven't already, make sure you add your email address and join nearly 600 others who have pledged so far.

NOW is the time to tell the aviation industry #StayGrounded in climate science and #StopAirportExpansion !

More info is here:

... please share the Facebook event page too:

... and together we can make this a truly epic day of global resistance against the social injustice of airport expansion and climate change!

Protests by Plane Stupid and Transition Heathrow in unity against aviation expansion

Early this morning protesters from Plane Stupid and Transition Heathrow scaled the Heathrow Park Inn Hotel and dropped banners saying “Any new runway would be Plane Stupid” and “Runner beans not runways” in order to show resistance to the Davies Commission’s consultation proposing a future runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick.

If Heathrow Airport’s proposal for a third runway went ahead, much of the village of Harmondsworth would be demolished, with the neighbouring villages of Sipson and Harlington also under threat. Over a million people living in London could be affected by long term noise and air pollution caused by this aggressive expansion. Heathrow are already exceeding EU air pollution limits, this is likely to increase not decrease with a new runway.

The Davies’ commission argues that an expanded aviation industry would still allow the possibility of the UK staying within its 2050 climate targets of an 80% reduction of CO2 (1), which is needed to prevent a climate catastrophe. This estimate relies on predicted technological change and the use of bio-fuels. Both are unproven and allow aviation to remain a special case, absolving the industry of any climate responsibility. We find this unacceptable.

Plane Stupid campaigner Charlie Smith said:

“The Davies Commission is a farce, it has not allowed for the possibility that the best option for the country and the planet is to avoid any further aviation expansion and seek investment in alternative means of transport. The Commission has prohibited a real debate about our transport future and as such encourages any future government to expand its aviation infrastructure thus sending us further along the road to climate chaos”

Expanding airports can only be based on a "wing and a prayer"

Two new reports done by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) & WWF and another one by The RSPB have shown that hopes of expanding airport capacity while meeting UK climate change targets can only be based on a wing and a prayer, requiring either implausible increases in carbon prices or constraints on regional airports to below current traffic levels.

Here's a summary of the new report ‘The Implications of South East Expansion for Regional Airports‘ by AEF & WWF:

The UK, like all G8 countries, is committed to cutting emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. But there are particular reasons why the challenge of ensuring that airports policy is compatible with climate policy has come to the fore in the UK. The number of flights taken per person in the UK is higher than in any other developed nation, London Heathrow is responsible for significantly more CO2 emissions than any other airport globally, and the Climate Change Act 2008 has made it a legislative requirement that the UK meets its political commitments on emissions.

In order for the UK economy as a whole to meet the requirement of the Act, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended that aviation emissions should be no higher than 37.5 Mt CO2 by 2050 – reducing emissions back to 2005 levels. This, according to the Airports Commission, need not preclude a new runway. But the Commission has yet to spell out the policy steps that would be needed to reduce aviation emissions if a new runway were to be built.

The CCC has advised that since technology take-up, more efficient operations, or increased biofuel use can only do so much to reduce UK aviation emissions, limiting aviation CO2 requires limits on demand. Our analysis shows that the future Government would have two equally unpalatable options for constraining aviation emissions if approval was given for a new runway:

(i) Take unilateral action to tackle aviation emissions through taxes or other market based measures even though the Commission’s findings suggest that the cost would have to rise from around £3 per tonne of CO2 today to around £600 per tonne by 2050 which would have significant consequences for businesses. This option reflects Sir Howard Davies’ recent comments on the need for a higher carbon price.

(ii) Introduce very significant constraints on other airports, such as closure or restrictions to below current traffic levels at regional airports, to compensate for a new South East runway.

AEF are asking for people to:

1. Contact your MP to make them aware that airport expansion is an issue that will affect the whole of the UK, with significant implications for meeting our climate targets, the future of regional airports and the cost for the rest of the economy. It would be helpful if you could provide links to the report (AEF/WWF report:, RSPB report: You could request that your MP makes a pledge to demand that the Airports Commission’s final recommendations are fully debated by elected members of parliament and not quietly given the go ahead.

2. Share the two reports with your contacts who you feel could be drawn into the airports expansion debate by the contents of the report, particularly members of the climate change community, leaders of other industries or regional airports.

3. Contact the Department for Transport to request that they produce a scenario of future passenger demand and resulting CO2 emissions based on the world as it is today without strong regulatory measures, not a scenario where such measures exist.

Resistance to airport expansion spreads to Toronto

From England to France to Germany resistance right now to airport expansion across the world is rife. The wave of reistance appears to of now made it way now to Toronto.

This week, Toronto council voted unanimously, 44 - 0, to accept the city manager's report calling for way more study on the proposed addition of jets to the inner harbour airport.

This is a resounding victory as Porter Airlines was looking for a conditional approval. No dice! Now, they must fund many, many studies on its potential impact.

The City made it clear it won't spend a nickel on infrastructure. This saddles the Port Authority (a federal patronage trough of an agency), which operates the airport, to come up with $300 million - and that's just for groundside infrastructure improvements, let alone all the necessary additions to the airport, including the 400 metre runway extension.

No one wants to fund this. Passenger levies wouldn't work (unless they saddle them with $100 building fees, or something that would turn customers away). What's even better, the council won't consider this again until next year after the next municipal election when we're hoping the left wing Olivia Chow gets in; the only mayoral candidate dead set against jets downtown. We can take a well-earned break for a bit.

This blog was first written by an aviation campaigner from Toronto but has been edited by Plane Stupid.

Rumours Plane Stupid are coming back to London

That lot at HACAN (Heathrow Assoication for Control of Aircraft Noise) are suggesting a Plane Stupid revival in London is on the cards.

Is it true or not? Only time will tell.

Hunger strikes in Nantes


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.

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.

Boris’s idea will never fly

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!

Plane Stupid on the runway at Southend

From the Press Release: 16 protesters arrested at Southend Airport.

16 protestors, who occupied the runway at Southend Airport, have been arrested by Essex Police.  It is believed they are being held at Southend Police Station. Campaigners from Plane Stupid and Climate Rush entered the airport shortly after 9am this morning.  The protest is against the planned expansion of Southend Airport.

Plane Stupid installed solar panels on the runway.  Campaigners from Climate Rush, dressed as pilots and cabin crew, were on a nearby footpath performing a dance routine.

A spokeswoman for the protestors said:

“Southend Council say the expansion will bring jobs.  But investment in renewable energy would create many more jobs without damaging the climate.  What we need is solar power not plane power.  The bigger runway is bad for climate change, bad for local residents under the flight path and is not needed to help the local economy.” 

Southend Airport has been bought by Stobarts, the logistics firm.  Easyjet has announced that it plans to start operating commercial flights from the airport in spring 2012.

There has been a major local campaign.  It has focused on the impact the airport would have on the thousands of people who will live under the flight paths.