Robbie's blog

Manchester residents march against World Logistics Hub

On Saturday 3rd November 2012, around 100 local residents and campaigners took part in a protest walk against the proposed 'World Logistics Hub' at Manchester Airport.  The protesters braved the cold to take a route around the 90 acre former greenbelt site, which is threatened by the plans to build 43 cargo sheds and almost 1,500 car parking spaces.

Local residents, wildlife enthusiasts and environmental campaigners spoke at various points along the walk, sharing their experiences of fighting Manchester Airport expansion and highlighting the numerous ways that the plans would affect local people and the environment.

Audrey O’Donovan, local resident and Chair of Ringway Parish Council, said "The World Logistics Hub, should it get final approval, would result in serious loss of amenity and environmental damage for local people. The Airport's application is based on unsubstantiated claims regarding the number of jobs they hope to create. There are also unsubstantiated claims in relation to finding potential occupiers of these new warehouses. The impact upon local wildlife and ecology would have serious consequences forthe biodiversity of this area."

The Wildlife Walk came one week after Councillors on the Wythenshawe Area Committee ‘recommended for approval’ the World Logistics Hub plans.  The application will now be sent to the Planning and Highways Committee at Manchester City Council for a final decision on 22nd November 2012.  A number of attendees at the Wildlife Walk, keen for their concerns to be brought to this Committee, pledged to attend this November meeting at Manchester Town Hall.

Several Manchester Councillors of the Wythenshawe Area Committee backed the Logistics Hub plans based on the Airport's promises of local job opportunities. However campaigners argue that job creation figures proposed by the Airport are inflated.  Jane Beetson from 'Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport' campaign  said “When Manchester Airport first announced plans for a second runway, they claimed 50,000 jobs would be created.  No-where near that number of jobs materialised.  Just like then, they are misleading the public now.”

She added, “Local Councillors say they will force the Airport to give jobs to local people but in practice they will have no way of enforcing this on the firms that move into the new office and warehouse spaces.  We need to create green jobs in sustainable industries not dirty aviation.” 

The Save Sunbank Wildlife Walk was also an opportunity for biodiversity experts to explain that Airport's promises of preserving wildlife are also unrealistic, and that creating a 'mitigation zone' is no substitute for leaving habitats untouched.

Along the route, campaigners encountered the threatened habitats of numerous plant and animal species. Several mature oak trees line Sunbank Lane, providing nesting opportunities for rare birds, and potential roosting spots for endangered bat species. The site is also home to 12 ponds occupied by Great Crested Newts, an endangered species found only in the North West of England.  Walkers were also able to spot signs of protected animals for example badger snuffle holes and mole hills in the green space around Sunbank.

More information at Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport website.

Manchester Airport unveils plans to concrete former greenbelt land

Manchester Airport has announced plans to concrete over former greenbelt land around Sunbank Lane to make way for a 'World Logistics Hub'.  The area is currently home to residential houses and greenfields and also borders onto Cotterill Clough - a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The plans involve the construction of around 43 warehouses and office units of various sizes on land adjacent to the A538, as well as 1,473 carparking spaces, 134 bike parking spaces and a re-landscaped green zone.   The plans form part of the wider Airport City Enterprise Zone.  

The Airport 'anticipate' that 1800 jobs will be created over a 15 year period.  However, a report on the wider Airport City proposals in Autumn 2011 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that many of these job creation projections actually involved displacing pre-existing jobs from elsewhere in Manchester, as firms relocate to take advantage of the cheap business rates on offer.  The land around Sunbank Lane was recently taken out of the Greenbelt in the Manchester City Council's 'Core Strategy' which was approved in July 2012.  

Many residents say they were not informed or consulted of these plans.  Audrey O'Donovan said,  "As a resident and chairman of Ringway Parish Council I am appalled at the lack of consultation by Manchester Airport when removing Oak Farm and surrounding area out of the green belt and changing the planning status enabling them to once again encroach on our countryside. All in the name of so called progress. What concerns me is the World Logistics Hub as they have called this latest expansion will expand to the other side of the A538 spreading their operations still further into our very small Parish of Ringway."

The Airport have published an 'informal' consultation document with images of the plans.   They say they intend to submit a formal planning application to Manchester City Council at some point in August 2012.

Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport organised a 'Biodiversity Walk' around the affected site in May 2010.  Shortly after local activists from Manchester Climate Action blockaded the current World Freight Centre and staged an airside protest around the wheel of Monarch Airline jet against plans to expand the airport and demolish local homes. 

Nest of oil giants found in central London - let's drum them out!

We all know that the real cost of cheap flights is paid for by the planet. Aviation fuel is not taxed, and so flying gets a free ride. This means more people fly, increasing demand for high-emission transport and undermining low-carbon alternatives. The combination of cheap flights and gung-ho advertising campaigns creates a mindset that we need to be constantly travelling, which leads, inevitably, to catastrophic climate change and the end of the world.

We're seeing the impact of our oil addiction every day as the Gulf of Mexico disappears under brown gunge. Oil is costing us, and the planet, dearly. It's not about taxing it - we need to get off it all together! Trains and buses can be electric, which can be renewable. Planes can't, hence the need to reduce demand for flying.

Problem is, oil companies rule the roost, making sure that we don't get the change we need to save the future. But BP's scandalous cost-cutting, which led to this latest disaster, means that all that could be changing. The tide is turning against Big Oil, and now is the time to rise up agains the oil giants! Time to gatecrash their party.

The World National Oil Companies Congress at Grange St Pauls Hotel in London 21st – 24th June invites you to: “debate and decide the future of the oil business . . . Don’t forget to pack your tuxedos and gowns. Fine wine, exquisite food and the company of some of the greatest minds in the energy business guarantee you fun and networking at the highest level.

Delegates will be arriving on Monday evening, 21 June at the Hotel at 10 Goodliman Street EC4. They "kick off with welcome drinks on a spectacular roof terrace overlooking St. Pauls Cathedral." Plane Stupid is joining the Camp for Climate Action and the UK Tar Sands Network to ruin their evening.

Gather at 6 pm at BP-sponsored Tate Modern, near the bridge across the Thames. Bring your own percussion, banners, slogans and energy.

Join the People’s Court at 7 pm outside the conference venue, where, in co-ordination with ADIEYIEMANFO Movement of Positive Action Networks who are fighting oil exploitation in Ghana, we will put the oil executives on trial for:

  • wholesale wanton destruction by pollution, leaks, and flaring, of land and sea, fish and fowl, human lives and livelihoods, present and future;
  • waging wars for oil;
  • changing the climate to create an uninhabitable planet; And, as oil runs out,
  • pursuing ever more costly and dangerous deposits from the depths of the ocean or from tar sands, instead of developing clean, sustainable forms of energy.

The Ghanese organisers for this event say:

"Oil drilling is being violently forced upon us in West Afrika with huge blood spilling. Our only defence is grassroots community self-empowerment . ... Let us therefore all rise up to the solidarity beat of our unifying peoples’ power across borders and drum out the plundering criminals! ... Neocolonialist and imperialist States and vampire capitalist transnational corporations must never be trusted with control over dangerous fossil fuels such as Oil."

Bring your own experience, and give and hear testimonies from the oil workers and communities who have for decades resisted the curse of black gold in the Tar Sands region of Canada, in the Niger Delta, in Ghana, Iraq, Colombia, Venezuela . . . and from people at the sharp end of the changing climate.

In a ceremony pre-empting Tuesday’s gala dinner and awards ceremony, companies will fight it out for the prestigious Dead Fish Award. BP? Shell? Chevron? Who will walk away with the prize?

Come help reward your favourite oil giant. Meeting at Tate Modern, 6pm, then off to Grange St Pauls Hotel, Goodliman St, London EC4

Residents fighting expansion at Manchester and Heathrow airports join forces

Residents who live on Hasty Lane at the edge of Manchester Airport are preparing to twin with Sipson at Heathrow. Campaigners will organise a live video link-up with residents near Heathrow airport, who would lose their homes if a third runway were built.

Manchest Airport has proposed expanding their freight terminal, which would demolish homes and a large section of the historic Hasty Lane. Hasty Lane residents aren't taking this threat to their community lying down, and have launched Adopt a Resident, which links local residents with direct action campaigners who will help them resist the demolition of their homes and acres of greenbelt land.

Last November Manchester City Council announced its climate change action plan. Despite owning the majority of Manchester Airports Group (which also owns Nottingham East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth airports) their supposedly visionary strategy ignored emissions from planes at Manchester Airport . The next day the Council Planning Committee approved plans to bulldoze people's homes on Hasty Lane.

Hasty Lane resident Peter Johnson said: "Together with Sipson residents, we are going to fight these irresponsible and unnecessary plans. Our local councillors all opposed the plans, but they were overruled. The council has let us down, but we’re not going to give up that easily."

Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport spokesperson Sian Jones said: "The residents aren't alone in this - climate justice campaigners from across Manchester and the country are backing them all the way." More power to their elbow!

Manchester airport: emissions cleared for take-off

Manchester airport take off

Manchester City Council announced their 'Call to Action' on climate change last month, which plans to reduce the City's emissions by one third by 2020. "Great!" we thought: the Council owns 55% of Manchester Airport Group (MAG), so surely this call to action would see the Airport's emissions reduce as well?

Alas no: the Council simply washed their hands of this issue. Council Chair, Sir Richard Leese thinks they can't constrain the Airport and is using that old excuse that if the planes didn't fly out from Manchester then they would just fly from somewhere else. That two of MAG's directors, Brian Harrison and Lord Peter Smith are on the Council can't have influenced his decision, right?

The Council Executive are going for a green airport; this oxymoron involves letting the airport grow as big as it likes while talking a lot about it becoming carbon neutral. Unfortunately this carbon neutrality won't include emissions from planes, but will cover magic lightbulbs in the toilets. It's clear that finding credibility in Manchester's climate change plans is like attempting to nail jelly to a wall - the harder you try, the more it falls apart.

Why we shut Stansted Airport

Stansted 5

Monday's action has shown the power of young people determined to turn the climate talk into climate action. We took the decision to disrupt the airport to directly reduce the CO2 impact of Stansted, as a response to the government's consent to its expansion. We did so with heavy hearts, knowing it would disrupt passengers, because we knew the consequences of this action couldn't be worse than the consequences of inaction. If irreversible climate change kicks in, millions of lives will be destroyed.

We are genuinely grateful for the level of support from people who have agreed with us that desperate times call for desperate measures. We have used this action to ask for everyone to 'please, do something'. We hope that all those that have expressed support for today's action will now think about what they are going to do to ensure the survival of our planet and people on it.

Tory MP: scrap Manchester-London flights

Thomas the Tank Engine

It seems that Plane Stupid's call for domestic flights to be scrapped has not gone unheeded. Tory MP and former environment minister John Gummer called for Manchester-London flights to be scrapped, and said that passengers should take the train instead.

Sounds familiar. This was exactly Plane Stupid's message when it blockaded the domestic departure lounge of Manchester Airport back in October.

Manchester climate debate report

Manchester Climate Forum debate

The 'Great Aviation Debate' in Manchester Friends Meeting House took place last Thursday in front of an audience of around 150 people.

We organised the debate after the head honchos at Manchester Airport responsed to our blockade of domestic flights back in October. The airport had slagged us off in the Times, saying:

"We would encourage those groups, including environmental groups, to engage in sensible debate and not pull stunts like this."

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