My day trip to Parliament

Dunwoody and a runway

In my years of campaigning I've come up against some tough opponents. Riot police in fields of beans behind the Camp for Climate Action; over-zealous security guards determined to keep carbon criminals operating; even angry businessmen prevented from getting to work. But nothing had prepared me for the wrath of Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Yesterday, five of us entered the Transport Select Committee inquiry into "the Future of BAA". After thirty minutes of whinging from Easyjet, BA and American Airlines that BAA weren't helping them profit from the 'cheap' flights bonanza, BAA's head honchos took the stand.

Wearing 'No 3rd runway' t-shirts and armed with copies of the Tyndall Centre's study into aviation emissions, we rose out of the audience and called the fat cats to account. While the others expressed their opposition to the third runway, I slammed copies of the climate science onto the desk in front of Stephen Nelson, BAA Chief Exec and Nigel Rudd, BAA Chairman.

This isn't the first time we've tried to get BAA to read the science. In May this year we blockaded their offices, promising to leave if they'd just admit to having read the report, and in November 2006 we visited them, dressed as scientists, with Newsnight in tow. On both occasions the airport owner refused to discuss climate change; this time there was to be no escape.

Dunwoody, chair of the Select Committee and renowned battleaxe, took umbrage with our protest. "Grow up!" she hollered, as one of our bunch let the airport execs known that "the future will judge you!", while another politely pointed out that climate change ought to be on the agenda.

For a few brief minutes, pandemonium reigned. Police and protestors chased each other round while MPs barked and the bigwigs cowered. "Two million people in West London have their eyes on you!" a protestor told Nelson, while the executive squirmed and looked away. Gradually we were caught and bundled out the door, and the inquiry continued. Dunwoody, her composure restored, told the gathered executives that "if I protested, I'd have rather more effect than that!"

I have to disagree with her. For two years we've tried to get face-to-face with Nelson, and to present him with the science that shows, in no uncertain terms, why we cannot afford to expand Heathrow. And there we were - in the centre of the corridors of power, slamming copies in front of them and making it clear that we won't tolerate any more runways - not at Heathrow, not at Stansted, not anywhere.

Of course, if Ms. Dunwoody has suggestions for improving our effectiveness, we'd be happy to hear them.