They destroy the planet. We get locked up for talking about it

4 men and 1 woman were arrested and charged on Wednesday 31st March for speaking in public about the climate effects of aviation at the reopening of Glasgow Airport Terminal 2. The group from Stop Expansion at Scottish Airports (SESA), including a legal observer and two photographers, were leaving the airport after holding a banner for a photograph outside Terminal 1 when a police van and police car pulled up and arrested 4 of the group.

Late into the night, riot police later went to the homes of the arrested without warrants. On Thursday the 5 were charged with obstructing normal airport business. All of the accused deny the charges. The group believes that those arrested were targetted because SESA is calling for a public non-violent peaceful protest at the airport on October 10.

Amelia Birrell, had riot police at her door after midnight saying that they wanted to question her son, Robbie. She said: "I think that this justice system is a joke when it locks up peaceful individuals until 6pm the next day when they are talking about such serious measures as climate change. We were made to feel like criminals when riot police searched around the whole of our house in the middle of the night. I know that the airport is a sensitive place but they are all passionate individuals worried about the future of our country and they were doing nothing to cause any disturbance. I am proud of my son, we are supposed to have freedom of speech in this country and such heavy handed policing is disproportionate and hypocritical."

This is not the first time that Scottish anti-airport expansion campaigners have been subject to heavy-handed policing tactics. In January 2009 Geoff Lamb, a pensioner from Aberdeen was been held in a cell overnight for innocently writing 'you fly, we die' in the snow in food dye. Later in 2009, Plane Stupid exposed a massive police operation to bribe and infiltrate peaceful protest groups.

The disproportionate tactics we have seen by Strathclyde police mirror those infamously used by the Metropolitan police. Arrested for voicing concerns about the aviation industry’s massive and growing contribution to climate change? Who are the real criminals here?

Call out for public shut down of Glasgow airport on October 10

For several years now we've sat by and listened as MP after MSP pledged to do something about climate change. So far, they've achieved sod all, and time is running out. It's crunch time: if the authorities won't make climate change policy work, we need to, openly and together. But how, you ask? Well, we're going to start by shutting down Glasgow airport on October 10.

We've formed a new coalition, Stop Expansion at Scottish Airports, and we're calling on anyone who believes in a sustainable future to join us. There have been a number of public actions against climate change in England, but this is the first in Scotland.

We've got to do something about flying. The Air Transport White Paper and the Scottish Climate Change Bill go in opposite directions. One forecasts a massive increase in passengers and the other demands a 42% reduction in greenhouse gases. It's the politics of the madhouse.

An increasing number of people will not stand by and watch airports blast more and more emissions into the atmosphere. We will not let the airlines and the aviation industry destroy any hope of reaching targets defined in the "world leading" Climate Change Bill.

We're targeting Glasgow airport because it's the perfect example of expansion plans gone mad. Over two-thirds of flights are to airports within the UK and half of those are to London. It's right next to a major population centre, with thousands of flights over already-deprived communities. But our problem is with the industry, not passengers, which is why we've given everyone so much notice.

So form a group, get dreaming, and get advice on safe ways to plan effective action. We'll see you on October 10.

Why is BAA taking over Edinburgh tourism?

Last week the managing director of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar, became chairman of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG). Dewar talks interchangeably about the needs of the airport and tourist industry. Surely increasing tourism means expanding the airport to allow more passengers to fly here from abroad?

It's not quite as simple as that. Firstly, British people fly twice as much as anyone else in the world. We do this because we're an island, but also because the aviation industry is such a powerful lobbyist. The impact on our tourism industry is dire: each year we spend £20 billion more abroad than foriegn tourists spend here. Visitors from overseas only make up 28% of the passengers flying to Edinburgh. The rest are Brits returning home.

This aviation-driven tourism strategy is unsustainable and embarassing. Remember the Homecoming campaign? Instead of empowering the managing director of the City’s airport we should be encouraging British people to holiday at home. Putting Dewar in charge of tourism is like leaving the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The appointment puts BAA in an incredibly strong position to fight any increase in passenger duty or tourism taxes. It will allow the airport free reign to promote its expansion plans, which would lead to more noise and carbon emissions. And by equating itself with tourism, you can be sure that they won't be short of cash for expansion. Roll over while we rub your belly BAA.

Scottish airports draining local economies

Last week we heard that there is going to be an emergency economic review of Glasgow Airport in the coming year to assess the level of economic importance of the airport. Passenger numbers have fallen 20% in the last two years and BAA have to sell off one of Edinburgh or Glasgow. But Gerry McCartney and Airport Watch Scotland just finished an economic report into the airport. Why not just look at that?

Could it be because the report wasn't complementary about the aviation industry? Gerry showed that Glasgow airport has a tourism deficit of £1.36 billion (which is also in line with the UK deficit of £17 billion) and is a drain on the local economy. This flies in the face of the Government's airport policy: expansion, expansion, expansion. The paper rightly noted that no one has examined what would happen if the airport didn't expand. Would the country go into shock? The fabric of our economic system break down? Not likely.

Halting the expansion of Glasgow airport means fewer sleepless nights for local residents, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and would move us towards our Climate Change Act targets. More people would chose to travel by more sustainable methods of transport, and it would reduce the airport's negative impact on the economy.

When Gerry’s report was launched in the Scottish Parliament after its release in December 2008, apart from the organiser not one single MSP showed up. It seems the politicians are only interested if reports about the aviation industry come from the aviation industry. It’s time for that to change.

Gerry concluded that "An informed way forward would be to plan a staged disinvestment in air travel alongside investment in sustainable industries and travel modes. This Just Transition would create a sustainable economy and more secure employment." Wake up Hollyrood, it’s time to plan for our future.

Scottish activists to link up with Heathrow residents

Residents of Sipson have started a tour of Scotland to make links with local residents around its four airports. The SNP is pushing ahead with expansion at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick and Aberdeen airport and the affected communities are being completely ignored. Now fed up campaigners have promised an epic battle to save their homes and neighbourhoods from aircraft noise, pollution and climate change.

Maggie Thorburn, 54, a former IT manager from London and a spokeswoman for HACAN ClearSkies, will be one of the residents giving talks about the Heathrow campaign and direct action. "I would never advocate violence," she says, "but I would advocate being a bit of a nuisance. Anybody can do direct action and should do it if they feel frustrated enough.”

Scottish Government slips Prestwick and Aberdeen expansion under the radar

Prestwick airport

Planestupid Scotland recently discovered that the Scottish national planning framework - which completely failed to consult the general public despite a period of consultation - now includes plans to expand Prestwick and Aberdeen airports. The Scottish Government now plans to expand four airports in a country of just over 5 million people - pure dead ecological madness.

Prestwick airport predicts that passenger numbers will more than double in the next ten years, rising as high as 12 million passengers by 2033. BAA also plans to increase Aberdeen's contribution to climate change to 5.9 million passengers / year by 2030. The recent road transport strategy also called for massive investment in roads at the expense of much needed public transport services. So much for much-hyped plans to reduce CO2 emissions - the Scottish Exec is determined to set runaway climate change into the tarmac.

With climate concerns are off the radar the only thing BAA has left to ruin are the lives of communities surrounding the four airports. The operator claims to care about the community: BAA Aberdeen are proud to have “a strong commitment to the communities around our airport and aim to address issues of prime local concern.” If that commitment includes disruption of school classes every five minutes, massive increases in air pollution and reduction in housing prices at a time of economic recession then BAA Aberdeen is doing a sterling job already - even without all their planned expansion.

Ediburgh airport: new runway surface, same BAA spin


Six members of Plane Stupid Scotland attended an information evening hosted by BAA about the impact that runway resurfacing will have on local communities around Edinburgh Airport. BAA wants to resurface the main runway at Edinburgh airport, renewing its life for 10 years and enabling it to cope with the planned increase in passenger numbers.

The resurfacing work will mean that flight paths will be changed, causing noise pollution over houses that have not previously been affected. Noise pollution from aviation has been linked to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, strokes and problems in children’s mental and physical development. Unsurprisingly, BAA is keeping kind of quiet about all that - come to think of it, they kept pretty quiet about the consultation meeting as well. The only advert in the local paper gave the wrong venue.

Edinburgh airport: runway climate change

Plane Stupid Scotland logo

It’s official now. Whilst BAA are busying themselves with "community consultations" regarding Edinburgh airport expansion, Ryanair have been signing the contracts and smoothing the runways for their expansion in 2008-9. Last week the BBC News reported that Ryanair is investing £70 million in expansion at Edinburgh airport over the coming year.

I imagine the communities around the airport, in the pathway of the runways and the pollution, have been notified. The announcement included the aim of creating 1,200 new jobs. But for those who cringe upon hearing well-rehearsed company lines of ‘economic boost’ without any thought on social and environmental implications these arguments may not sit comfortably. Indeed, for all those who hold any stake in the health of Scotland, what we are left thinking is this:

BAA greenwash goes into tailspin

Traffic jam

Sometimes things happen for a reason; other times, it's just coincidence. The day after Leo's post about the methods the aviation industry use to fudge their emissions, BAA puts out a press release claiming that cars arriving at Edinburgh airport pollute more than the planes. It's a classic example of greenwash.

In a slight of hand so unsubtle that even the Edinburgh Evening News mentioned it, BAA set up NOx readers at 20 locations around the airport to measure pollution levels. They showed that NOx levels were higher in the car park and on the approach roads than on the airfield - although, crucially, the readers do not measure gases emitted at altitude. BAA is comparing thousands of cars driving in and parking with the NOx emissions of aircraft taking off or landing while discarding those in flight.