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.

Take VAT targets the aviation industry

Protesters descended on Heathrow and Leeds/Bradford Airports today in a coordinated attempt to highlight the fact that the aviation industry pays no VAT.

In a protest modelled on those recently seen at Oxford Street stores like Vodafone and Topshop, over 100 campaigners from TakeVAT and other direct action groups such as Plane Stupid ran around terminal 3 at Heathrow airport 'confiscating items'.

The campaigners were symbolically 'confiscating' items such as luggage trolleys and toilet roll, to highlight the fact that there is no VAT on airline tickets, the purchase of planes or on spare parts for aircraft.

In January VAT rose to 20%. Hard working families across the country are being hit hardest by the rise whilst the aviation industry - which is mainly a habit of the rich, remains a special case and is completely exempt.

In Leeds around 20 protesters targeted Leeds/Bradford Airport. As soon as they arrived off the bus they were met by a handful of police and scuffles broke out as the protesters tried to reach the terminal building. In the end they managed to sit down together to make their point heard just outside the main terminal building.

Spokesperson for TakeVAT London, David Nivens said:

"It is simply unfair that aviation pays no VAT. Why should one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries in the world get away scot-free when ordinary people are charged VAT on basic necessities like toilet rolls?"

Spokesperson for TakeVAT Leeds, University of Leeds student Joseph Blake said:

"As the government imposes austerity measures on hard working families across the UK, the aviation industry gets away with £9 billion a year in VAT tax exemptions. We took action today in solidarity with the London protests and to demand the government put people first, and not climate criminals like the aviation industry".

Manchester Plane Stupid occupy Manchester Airport

Activists from the group Manchester Plane Stupid have breached airside security at Manchester Airport today in a protest against the expansion of the airport. The protest involves two groups. The first group of 6 people cut through the perimeter fence and created a human circle around a stationary plane using arm tube lock-ons.

A second group have used tripods to blockade the road entrance to the World Freight Terminal preventing airfreighted goods from being taken in or out. They have unfurled a banner reading: “More air freight = more climate change. Stop all airport expansion now.”

The group are protesting against the recent decision to expand the World Freight Terminal which will involve the demolition of historic homes on Hasty Lane.

Lisa Jameson from Manchester Plane Stupid said, “This isn't just about airport expansion or rising carbon emissions. This is about challenging an economic system based on the absurdity of infinite growth on a planet of finite resources, a system which prioritises bail-outs for the banks and then makes us pay for it in public service cuts. Capitalism is the cause of the problem, climate change is just a symptom.

Following the recent decision to stop expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead airports, the aviation industry is likely to look to regional airports such as Manchester to increase profits.

The third runway at Heathrow was stopped because ordinary people stood up to the government at the time and the aviation industry using a broad range of tactics. Direct action has historically played an important role in creating social change and will continue to do so.

The aviation industry consistently overstate their importance in creating jobs and their contribution to the economy. The lack of tax on aviation fuel is costing the UK economy £9 billion per year. There is also a tourism deficit in the North West region of £2.2 billion. That is the difference between what Britons flying abroad spend in foreign countries and what foreign visitors spend in the North West.

Each round of airport expansion is justified on the promise of more and more jobs. In the 1990s Manchester Airport promised to create 50,000 jobs with the second runway – but the actual number was far lower. We need to begin a just transition to a low carbon economy by creating jobs in sustainable industries such as rail and renewables”

Annie McLaughlin said, “Recently, we've seen attempts by British Airways to use the courts to overturn workers' right to strike. We support the rights of all workers to fight for good conditions. It is essential that the changes needed to prevent climate change are not used as an excuse to restrict workers rights.

The airport, which is owned by local councils, has kept local residents in the dark about the proposed expansion plans, failing to adequately inform them that their homes face demolition.

McLaughlin continued, “The proposed expansion of the freight terminal makes no sense, economically or environmentally. The existing capacity is not fully utilized and an expansion would simply be a stepping stone to expansion of the airport as a whole, which would be an environmental disaster.

With the planet on the verge of climate breakdown it is essential that the real cost of aviation expansion is taken seriously – currently emissions from aviation are not included in Manchester City Council's Climate Change Action Plan.

Plane Stupid targets Red Bull-shit

Plane Stupid has deposited a large mound of manure outside the south London HQ of soft drink giant Red Bull, because they've applied for planning permission to build an aerodrome opposite London City Airport.

Three activists, dressed as ‘avenging air hostesses’ in wigs and mini-dresses the same colour as the company’s logo, crowned the mound with placards reading: ‘Red Bull-sh*t’, ‘Red Bull gives you (plane) wings’ and ‘No second runway by stealth.’

The company claims that the new control tower, runway and helipads would support its annual air race on the River Thames. But there are growing fears that the company is working with London City Airport and Newham Council to introduce a new heliport and permanent runway for private jets through the back door.

"We believe Red Bull’s claim is bullshit and we’re telling them so," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Baines. "London City Airport is positioning itself a major hub for City executives. We suspect that Red Bull’s planning application is an underhand way of helping the airport to attract private jet and helicopter users. That way, City Airport's owners won’t have to deal with fierce opposition from people in East London who are sick and tired of the noise and pollution from the airport."

London City Airport has been feeling the heat recently. Local campaign group Fight The Flights has launched a High Court bid to stop the airport from expanding its flights volume by 50%. Six local councils have publically supported FTF’s bid. The Greater London Assembly’s Environment Committee is also holding a probe into the effects of the expansion.

"We insist that Newham council turns down this planning application. Red Bull may have high flying ideas but this time we think their wings should be clipped," Elizabeth added.

Anthill Mob reinforce anti-expansion message during Copenhagen climate talks

Activists in east London have painted two mega-messages against growth in aviation - and flights at London City Airport in particular - to coincide with the Copenhagen climate summit. One message saying, ‘Still climate criminals!’ is written in giant letters on the top of a 60ft hill situated just south of City Airport, which planes pass directly over.

"It’s a message to the delegates flying to and back from Copenhagen," explains Elsie Wai, spokesperson for local anti-expansion group, the Anthill Mob. "The conscientious will be taking the train but the selfish will be flying. We’re reminding the selfish delegates that they’ll remain climate criminals until they start thinking green."

The group are also angry about London City Airport’s continuing attempts to increase business and private flights. The airport currently has approximately 80,000 commercial flights a year but aims to increase this to 170,000 by 2030. "That means more pollution, more global warming and more misery for local people," says Elsie.

The Anthill Mob’s second message is written in 10ft high letters along the boundary fence of Tate & Lyle’s sugar refinery - situated beside the Docklands Light Railway approach to the airport. The message reads: ‘Drop the sweet talk: no flight expansion at City Airport.’

"You only have to look around the area next to the airport to see that it is in terminal decline," says Elsie. "The airport has made millions in profits but all we get in return is more noise and pollution. Pretty much everything at City Airport is automated. As it stands, a tiny number of people benefit from employment at the airport while the wider community and the climate suffers."

Cases of asthma and child mortality are already above the national average in the borough of Newham – where the airport is based. Expanding the airport means a massive increase in pollution which will further blight one of the poorest areas in London.

Heathrow campaigners storm Architect Awards to warn off third runway bids

Plane Stupid activists along with three residents from Heathrow have targeted one of the potential third runway designers at this year’s Architects of the Year Awards held at London's Intercontinental Hotel. Architect group Pascall and Watson, nominated for Transport Architect of the Year, have been at the forefront of airport expansion since the early 1960's.

The activists stormed the podium and gave a short speech before offering Pascall and Watson the ‘We don't give a Shit’ award in recognition of their 50 year aviation portfolio which includes expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and Abu Dhabi airports.

Other activists handed out leaflets to the audience. Once the award had been presented the activists left of their own accord.

Tracy Howard, 35 year old mother of two and barmaid at the King William IV pub in Sipson - which will be destroyed if a third runway is allowed to go ahead - said:

"We're here today to let the architecture world know about the diverse and growing movement against the third runway and airport expansion across the country. Those involved with airport expansion will have to include this growing opposition in their designs and in their budget".

Joe Ryle, 18, Plane Stupid activist and Heathrow resident said:

"Architects bidding for the third runway contract, or any other new runway, can expect to see a lot more of us. We presented them with the 'We don't give a Shit' award both to recognise their contribution to destroying our homes and to say that trying to build a green airport is like trying to polish a turd."

Plane Stupid turf Virgin Atlantic out of their seats at the PR awards

Last night seven Plane Stupid activists and one Heathrow resident popped over to the PR Week Awards and hijacked a table reserved for Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic have been strong advocates for the third runway at Heathrow and expansion of Britain's airports, which we thought they shouldn't get away with.

Dressed in glamourous evening wear, the activists entered the glitzy awards, which celebrates the highlights of the year's public relations work. They occupied Virgin Atlantic's table and refused to leave.

Christine Taylor, who lives next door to Heathrow and whose mother is due to lose her home if Heathrow’s third runway goes ahead said:

"It's crazy to build more runways around London - we already have six. My mother wants to live out her days in her own home, but the bully boys of aviation think their profits are more important. Tonight at the PR awards we gave them a taste of what it’s like to be turfed out of your rightful place."

Anthill Mob send message to LCA frequent flyers

Passengers flying over East London now have a new landmark to spot. A group of activists known as the Anthill Mob left the Camp for Climate Action earlier this week, climbed a 100ft tor in Thamesmead and sprayed 'Climate Crime' in indelible paint.

The message - believed to be large enough to see from aircraft flying overhead - comes as a gentle reminder to passengers to stop flying so bloody much. London City Airport recently received local authority permission to expand its commercial flights from 80,000 to 120,000. The airport aims to increase this total to 176,000 by 2030, despite vocal and organised opposition by local people.

A spokeswoman for the group, Penny Pitstop, said that "We are only months away from talks in Copenhagen and big business cannot get away with thinking it can pollute its way out of carbon reduction."

The high-flying habits of the wealthy often come at a severe cost to local residents. Newham - where London City Airport is based – is one of the most economically deprived areas of England. Residents not only fail to reap any significant benefits from the airport but they’re having to deal with the ground level impact including high rates of asthma and respiratory diseases, as well as constant noise.

"It’s now increasingly the champagne-sippers of society who can afford to maintain their commitment to the aviation industry. This is particularly so at London City Airport where most of the flights are business-related," Pitstop continued.

Plane Stupid and AAA crash Virgin Atlantic 25th birthday party

Monday the 22nd of June was Virgin Atlantic's 25th Anniversary. Branson has been pushing the joke that biofuels are the solution to another 25 years of aviation growth, so we decided to team up with Action Against Agrofuels and join in the party. Our tickets must have got lost in the post, but we dressed up and strolled along anyway.

The balloon banner rose through the main lobby of Terminal 3, and minutes later Heathrow tube shut. The underground crew got out just as the station was closing, and despite the fact that the area was now full of fluro vests and cop cars, two stewardesses calmly unfolded their collapsible ladder and climbed onto the roof of the porch entrance to departures.

Check out the photos on our Flickr photostream.

Their escorts unravelled a giant banner, and two more stewardesses emerged from inside the building. They tossed around handfuls of banner confetti that read ‘biofuels, no way out’ and gleefully squirted silly string on the growing group of intrigued travellers. Meanwhile on the roof, our ladies in red were applying their lipstick and arranging thier coconut pillbox hats.

The headgear was a reference to Virgin's biofuel experiment last year. The flight from London to Amsterdam contained just 5% coconut oil, yet the journey still required 150,000 coconuts for a one-way flight from London to Amsterdam. Yep, that’s 150,000 thousand coconuts. To cover just 5% of one flight. Across the Channel. To put it into perspective, that's enough coconuts to make 300,000 pina coladas.

There’s a farcical discrepancy between how biofuels are dressed up, and what their actual impacts are. The evidence suggests that agro fuels take more carbon to produce than just using kerosene outright, and bring with them the complications of deforestation and mass hunger.

After half an hour or so of falling into step with amused Virgin stewardesses and friendly banter with passengers, the police decided that everyone was having far too much fun and proceeded to arrest everyone. Heathrow is covered by SOCPA - the legislation that ‘protects’ parliament from spontaneous protest. 9 people were taken away on suspicion of aggravated trespass and breach of bylaws.

Apparently the airport's cherry picker had left from the far side of the runways as soon as it heard of the protest, it’s just not very fast, and Heathrow is very, very big. So the two on the roof held out till 1pm, as the re-enactment of Virgins maiden flight was boarding.

Everyone was held without charge till 11 that night and bailed to return.

Manchester Plane Stupid disrupt industry gala dinner

Just hours after disrupting an aviation conference with rape alarms and helium baloons, Manchester Plane Stupid targeted the aviation industry's gala dinner held at the town hall. Protestors scaled two lamposts and erected a 15m banner reading, "Aviation Industry Conference - Climate Criminals Inside".

The banner drop created a lot of attention from the public and continued the pressure on the aviation industry who are attempting to greenwash the climate issue. The Aviation conference included the launch of a new initiative to make airports carbon neutral. However, this does not include the emissions from flights which currently account for around 13% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's time for the aviation industry to wake up and to start a just transition to replace aviation jobs with emerging sustainable industries such as wind turbines," said Vanessa Hall, former city councillor and Green parlimentary candidate for Manchester Central.

"There is no such thing as a 'carbon neutral' airport, 'carbon neutral' is a term used for offsetting projects that rarely result in any real reduction in emissions. This project is even more deceptive as it won't include the massive emissions from planes," said James Alden, Green parlimentary candidate.