Plane Stupid to run direct action training in Frankfurt


Angry at Frankfurt Airport expansion plans? For years at Frankfurt, campaigners against the expansion of Frankfurt airport have been squatting the forest of Kelsterbach, where the airport's bosses plan to clearcut 100,000 trees to build a new runway. The new runway would double the number of flights, destroying any last remnant of peace and quiet for local residents.

On February 22nd, Plane Stupid's Dan Glass will join a UK delegation which includes John Stewart from HACAN to run a direct action training in Frankfurt. Germany, here we come again!

German airports get expansion fever

German anti-aviation campaigners have been contending with huge regional airport expansion plans. Airport managers hope to stimulate demand by expanding rather than catering to a demand that already exists, excitedly talking up weekend shopping trips to London amongst other equally essential flights.

Construction is already under way at Kassel Calden regional airport, which is going to expand into a commercial airport with the help of massive subsidies of €150 million. Residents, neighbouring municipalities and BUND launched a legal challenge, but their case was dismissed in April last year and a massive forest was cleared last month.

True to style, it wasn’t left at that and campaigners now have to contend with the attempted destruction of the Querumer Forest to lengthen the runway at Braunschweig airport. A spokesperson for the group, Peter Illert said "This airport doesn't serve public interests, it is used by managers of the nearby Volkswagen AG headquarters in Wolfsburg."

Supporting the attempted expansion on such a beautiful natural site is a strange move by Volkswagen, who have been working hard on their greenwash by a sustained campaign of tree planting. Angry at the injustice, climate activists and local groups have set up a vigil camp in the endangered area, similar to one that sprung up near Frankfurt this time last year.

Illert went on to say, "Nowadays, the north of Hessia is a poor country, and gets still poorer - of money and of quality of life - when a new airport is erected for a small number of businessmen and ambitious local politicians for charter traffic and medium distance flights."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

Frankfurt airport expansion meets determined local opposition

I've just got back - by coach, thanks for asking - from meeting campaign groups opposing expansion at Frankfurt airport. The authorities want a fourth runway, and expansion is justified on the same sort of grounds as our third runway: Frankfurt's financial centre will collapse; it will bring jobs; flights will go to other airports; passengers will choose to change planes at other hub airports, etc.

The owners have already cut down a million trees to make way for it. This is a travesty of the highest order, and stirring up some emotional memories. Over thirty years ago the woods were the scene of some of the fiercest and most famous protests in German history, as tens of thousands of people fought to stop a third runway being built. There was virtually civil war when the authorities tried to remove the protestors. The protest had a profound effect in Germany, helping radicalise a generation and kickstarting the nascent green movement.

But it also left many campaigners dispirited. They had fought – and lost – the biggest and most dramatic campaign against airport expansion ever seen in Europe. This time round they have concentrated on legal challenges, but so far without success. And while the woods were occupied again, it was largely by younger environmental activists. They held out for nine months but were evicted earlier this year. There still is a small camp, which we visited, but is not on the site of the new runway.

This summer the young activists are planning a Climate Camp, like there was at Heathrow two years ago, in the woods near the airport to which activists from across Europe will be invited. The local residents are pursuing their legal challenges. There are major campaigns against airport expansion in other German cities - notably at Munich and Stuttgart where last year 15,000 people marched against a new runway - and a burgeoning direct action movement. If the Frankfurt campaigners can persuade these other campaigners to join them this summer, they have a fighting chance of success.

Check out my photos from the trip on our Flickr photostream.

Frankfurt airport: we will defend every tree and every hut


Lord Soley and his chums at BAA are fond of saying that if we don't expand Heathrow everyone will just fly from Frankfurt or Schipol. Not without a fight they won't. Frankfurt is the second largest airport in Europe; Fraport (who own the airport) and the German government are trying to build a new runway to massively increase capacity.

The only problem is the 250,000 m2 of protected forest that cheekily grew where they want to plonk the tarmac. For seven months activists have been squatting the forest, building tree platforms and floating rafts to resist attempts to chop down the forest. The protestors have vowed to defend every tree and every hut. Some of them have a history of anti-expansion protests: twenty five years ago there was a massive site battle over the second runway. Then the German Government swore there wouldn't be any more runways. Where have we heard that before?

January 2009 is bringing threat of eviction - and they need all the help they can get. If you're kicking about and fancy building some metaphorical bridges, why not head over? There's more background info and directions to the camp on their website (in english), and a whole bunch of pretty photos as well. Bus tickets to Frankfurt via Eurolines are about 50 quid.

Frankfurt airport direct action camp


Things are hotting up over the channel. Campaigners against the expansion of Frankfurt airport have been squatting the forest of Kelsterbach, where the airport's bosses plan to clearcut 100,000 trees to build a new runway. The runway would double the number of flights, destroying any last remenant of peace and quiet for local residents.

This week the protestors have been hosting a direct action camp, with training, information and networking. Today is when everything starts to kick off, with intense action planning meetings; days of action kick off on Friday. There's more information (in German) on the group's website, but expect action and excitement later this week!

P.s. the photo is from a 'Banneraktion' in Frankfurt's Terminal 2 in early August.