The war without bullets radio show


As a community activist, informed by her reading of popular education, community activism and radical politics, Cathy McCormack has – for over quarter of a century – witnessed each and every day a ‘war without bullets’ being waged remorselessly against herself and other structurally oppressed people: the poor, the ill, the unemployed, the disabled, the stigmatised, the marginalised and the simply different.

The War Without Bullets project is aimed at tackling this war.

Cathy, from Easterhouse Glasgow and author of ‘The Wee Yellow Butterfly’ exposes the war against the poor in Britain and of how poverty and inequality are linked to climate-change during a series of conversations with other activist and academic experts that are fighting back in the front line of this war and trying to save our planet and its people. One of the conversations here follows a few years of part of Plane Stupid's journey in tackling the war from the runways to the streets to the courts......

First Conversation:

Cathy’s first guest is Dan Glass a young anti-climate change activist who was nominated as one of Britain’s most effective green activist and notoriously famous for gluing himself to Gordon Brown. Dan was involved in ‘Plane Stupid’ and So We Stand. Dan exposes the links between poverty and inequalities and talks about the direct action which he and his buddies took to stop co2 emissions at their source which resulted in them being arrested twice and put on trial. He also reveals of how the under-cover policecop Mark Kennedy who infiltrated their organisation resulted in their second conviction being rendered un- safe.………..

Follow the rest of the series here (

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.

Glasgow Airport Terminal 2 branded unethical

On the day the world's leaders were to release their global emissions target, Plane Stupid Scotland unveiled a new sign welcoming people to Glasgow Airport. Giant letters read "T2 closed" and "Closed for Ethical Rethink", pointing to the increasingly airport.

The action is the first in a growing campaign to keep Terminal 2 shut for good. It was closed over the winter as a cost saving measure after passenger numbers fell by 11.3% to 7.2 million. Glasgow airport operates a huge number of short haul and domestic flights.

Local residents have had fewer sleepless nights due to the decreased air traffic and the airport's emissions have also reduced from the 618,539 tonnes of Co2 it emitted in 2008 (although unsurprisingly BAA won't tell us by how much). This trend must continue if we're to meet our emissions targets, or the "world's greatest Climate Change Bill" (copyright Scottish Parliament) will become the world's biggest embarrassment.

Reggie Whittaker, who lives by Glasgow airport explained: "T2 really is plane stupid. It's unsustainable and unnecessary."

Glasgow airport pushes expansion while passenger numbers fall off a cliff

Glasgow Airport is determined to pump more carbon into the atmosphere despite a massive drop in passenger demand. Well it’s no big news that the aviation industry does not require consumer demand to expand. Inspired by the predict and provide of the 1990’s road building which brought us a motorway through the centre of Glasgow, the industry is dedicated to creating demand with cheap flights - whether we want them or not.

Nevertheless, it's amazing that managing director Amanda McMillan just announced plans to invest £25 million 'improving' that airport because it lost one-in-eight passengers over the past year. Fly Globespan and Zoom Airline collapsed and most RyanAir flights moved to Edinburgh. Given that part of the airport was closed over winter due to lack of demand, why are they so dead set on expanding?

Technically, of course, they're not expanding; the airport is being "enhanced". In the Scottish National Planning Framework the word "expansion" was changed to allow airports to expand more easily. This means BAA can up the possible passenger numbers without going through any of a legitimate, democratic planning process.

Following the Copenhagen climate conference and a sparkling new Scottish Climate Change Bill, it would make sense to allow passenger numbers to drop naturally whilst driving for a high speed rail link. However, that wouldn't make BAA any money, so unsurpsingly it's not on the cards. Instead, they're dedicated to generating new and unsustainable demand. It's like the collapse of the passenger numbers which followed the recession has taught them nothing.

On top of this BAA Glasgow are also very pleased to announce that they are contributing £1 million towards the famed M74 extension. Not only are they creating excessive noise in Glasgow’s poorer neighbourhoods by flying jets metres above their heads, but also by helping build a motorway through the middle of the city. I wonder if they'll be putting thaton the 'community matters' section of their website. Thought not.

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.

Residents get peace and quiet as BAA cuts Glasgow winter services

British Airports Authority wants to close Glasgow Airport overnight and moth-ball Terminal 2 to save itself some money during the winter. Built only 5 years ago, Terminal 2 has been predominantly used by budget airlines specialising in short haul flights. It's a symbol of how the industry's unrelenting growth model has fallen apart with the recession.

Local residents had feared that the airport with passenger numbers could balloon from around 8 million to 24 million over the next 20 years. Now they're looking forward to getting a few decent nights sleep without the roar of planes overhead.

Activists visiting the local community over the past couple of years have noted increasing circumstantial evidence of serious illness and cancer clusters in the vicinity of the airport. We're trying to get progressive voices within the scientific and medical community to study the connections between airport noise and pollution, and ill-health and disease.

Of course not everyone is rejoicing at these plans, and Plane Stupid Scotland vehemently opposes any job losses arising from BAA's closure plans, or any changes to shift patterns that aren't made in full consultation and agreement with workers. It's not their fault that BAA over-reached and built more capacity than it needed. The responsibility lies squarely with the ever-greedy airport operator and its unwavering belief that the growth would never end.

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.

Glasgow airport MD invites your phone calls


In these busy times of aviation growth, Gordon Dewar, the Managing Director of Glasgow airport has so few people to chat to that he wants to hear from you:

If you get a delay of more than ten minutes going through security at Glasgow Airport, please give me a call personally because I’d really like to know about it.

Dewar did however decline to give his own number, instead encouraging angry punters to call the general enquiries number: 0870 040 0008.

You might think that he had better things to do than chat to people whose flights to Newcastle or Aberdeen got delayed, but apparently running an international airport leaves him plenty of time to kill...