Day one of Manchester Airport on trial

There was a huge show of support for defendants at Trafford Magistrates Court this morning for the opening day of Manchester Airport on Trial.

Despite freezing temperatures people from all walks of life came down to the courthouse to wish them well. Pete Johnson one of the residents whose home faces demolition joined the supporters and defendants outside the courthouse with colourful banners. The case has galvanised support from a broad range of supporters from local members of the public, local groups, academics, barristers, writer and journalist for the Independent Johann Hari, and prominent national politicians such as Heathrow Labour MP John McDonnell, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith.

Eleven local campaigners were in court facing charges of obstruction of the highway. Nine of the eleven pleaded guilty unable to bear the cost of a trial and were sentenced at 1pm today. The court heard now the protest had been a 'response to a flawed planning process' and the 'democratic process being thwarted'. The judge handed out fines of an average £300 each before opening the prosecution.

Ali Garrigan, from Manchester Plane Stupid said:

"Today the defendants have taken responsibility for the protest, been accountable for their actions and will pay their fines. Meanwhile, Manchester City Council refuses to take responsibility for the emissions from the airport by excluding them from its Climate Change Action Plan and the aviation industry gets a free ride by paying no tax on it fuel."

The trial continues tomorrow and is set to be an interesting day. Amanda Walters and Mark Howarth, the two defendants pleading not guilty, will be asked to tell the court what effects the expansion of the airport will have both locally, such as on the residents at Hasty Lane, as well as internationally in terms of CO2 emissions and climate change.

Local councillor Martin Eakins will also be speaking to highlight the local democratic deficit and resident Pete Johnson from Hasty Lane will talk about the threat to local homes.

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