Climate campaigners hang 'NO 3rd RUNWAY' banner before PMQs

Parliament roof 3

27th February 2008 - Campaigners opposed to Heathrow expansion have scaled the roof of the Houses of Parliament and hung protest banners from the building before Prime Minister's Questions is due to begin.

The three men and two women from climate action group, Plane Stupid, opened an outside door before walking along the roof and dropping two banners. The non-violent direct action comes on the day a government consultation into Heathrow expansion ends. The protesters are making paper aeroplanes out of confidential Whitehall documents that reveal the process is fixed, and gliding the planes into the MPs' car park below.

Virgin update: sour grapes (and coconuts)

Branson Coconut

Oh dear. This weekend we ran a story about how Virgin had been 'freeped' - they'd posted a poll online to gather support for the third runway, only for 94% of people to vote against expansion.

Virgin promised that they would show the poll to the DfT, but news has reached us today that the poll has disapeared - although links to it still exist on their website. Yesterday afternoon it stood at 96% opposed - with over 700 votes against the third runway. Surely El Branson can't have pulled the plug just because people didn't agree with him? Maybe he's sulking, after everyone dismissed his fancy biofuel project as greenwash?

Greenpeace campaigners climb on top of Heathrow flight

Greenpeace @ Heathrow 2

Truly awesome: four Greenpeace climate campaigners have just climbed on top of a Manchester to London plane after it parked at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal One. They are now covering the tailfin with a huge protest banner that reads "CLIMATE EMERGENCY – NO 3rd RUNWAY".

The Greenpeace volunteers – two women and two men – waited until all the passengers had disembarked from the one hour flight before walking through double doors at Terminal One, crossing an area of tarmac and climbing stairs onto the fuselage of the British Airways flight.

Today’s Greenpeace action is truly an inspiration to the movement. The bastards have well and truly raised the bar now. If this keeps up, there's no way this runway will be built. Much love from Plane Stupid!

Virgin gets freeped

Virgin poll

Anyone who's anyone at Virgin Atlantic has spent the day huddled around a camera, waffling on about how flying one aeroplane with 20% biofuels makes up for the emissions from their thousands of trans-Atlantic services. But behind the scenes, Virgin is just as carbon-addicted as the other airlines. Virgin's website proudly declares their support for the third runway, and asks faithful passengers whether they agree.

So far, so normal; but as Virgin found out, people really don't want this lump of tarmac. According to Virgin's poll, over 90% of people oppose Heathrow expansion. We know the runway's unpopular, but this isn't just an outpouring of opposition. Virgin got freeped.

Climate change is just a fad, says Ruth

Consultation paragraph 322

One week to go until the most sophisticated and cruel practical joke ever to be played on the two million plus residents of West London and Berkshire ends. The more I read the absurd consultation document the more I am convinced that they either can’t possibly be serious, or that they truly believe – like Mikey O’Leary - that climate change is just the current florescent angst of today’s youth.

A classic example of the DfT’s blinkered lunacy is the above paragraph from page 44 of the consultation which explains with glee what a third runway would bring. Read that last sentence again. Apparently the "unconstrained demand forecast" by 2030 would in fact be restricted, by unexplained "environmental constraints". What are these constraints that dare upset the analysts' demand forecasts?

Heathrow consultation: expansion opposed by boroughs

Planes flying over a tower block

As the consultation deadline approaches, councils across London stand united against expansion. Hounslow, Windsor and Maidenhead, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and many others are all opposed to expansion. Of the councils near the airport, only Spelthorne supports expansion, although rumours of bribery are emerging, after BAA promised to supply mobility buses to the cash-strapped borough just before it pulled out of the 2M group.

Of course, Lord Soley, Acton resident and head of Future Heathrow, supports expansion. He paints a horrible picture of London's future without an aviation industry given carte blanche to expand at will. "Unless we get permission for this runway we are stuck. Passenger numbers are stuck, destinations are going down and we will have to close Heathrow." Sounds great Clive: on behalf of the two million people who can't get a good night's sleep because of planes overhead, where do I sign?

Want to show the Government you don't support expansion? Come to the Westminster rally on Monday the 25th of February. 7pm, Central Hall.

Does supporting expansion make you sick?

Mother Tabbinskins

Yesterday's papers carried the unsurprising news that living under a flight path can lead to increased stress and noise-related illness. But can supporting the third runway make you ill? We sent our roving reporter Dee Locke undercover at two governmental departments, to find out.

"I checked out the Department for Transport", says Dee, "and found that their staff were un-naturally ill. Staff at the DfT took an average of 12.4 sick days last year, compared to 9.1 for the Civil Service average. That's pretty high, leading us to suspect that the extra days could come from the stress of dealing with constant phone calls from angry residents and super-glue blockades of their offices."

Heathrow expansion no boost for economy

Pigs will fly

Heathrow expansion must go ahead, say Ministers, or London will be transformed overnight into a third-world city, whose population huddle under the yellow glare of street lamps and burn copies of thelondonpaper to keep warm. Not so, claim consultancy firm CE Delft, who have released a HACAN-funded report which debunks the economic arguments in favour of expansion.

The report explodes the myth that expansion and the economy are intrinsically linked. The DfT claim that each extra passenger brings £120 into the economy, putting the net benefit of expansion at £4.4 billion over 70 years. But CD Delft point out that this ignores the huge tax subsidy to the industry (currently around £10 billion per year). The overall benefit is closer to £30 per passenger. Additionally, £3 billion of the projected economic benefit will be money raised by the Government through aviation duty - leaving a direct boost to the private economy of about £1.4 billion a year.

February rally - two fingers to the consultation


Over the past few months, John Stewart has been touring London and the South-East, building opposition to the third runway. Not that it took much building. From Richmond to Higbury, Ealing to Putney, London's residents are united. We may not all want the same person to be Mayor, but we want one thing: no expansion at Heathrow.

The 'No Third Runway 2008' tour culminates in a night that's not to be missed: a rally at Central Hall, Westminster. Speakers include John McDonnell MP and many others (including someone from Plane Stupid) - but who speaks is not as important as you attending. It's the last chance to stick two fingers up to Brown and BAA and to tell them to stuff their runway.

Monday the 25th of February, 7pm. Attend or be warned: if I hear that you chose to stay in and watch Eastenders, look out!

Boris backs Thames Estuary airport

Thames Barrier

As the battle for the London Mayor warms up, so the press releases by the candidates get wilder and wilder. If King Newt announces free bus travel for under-18s, Boris proposes banning non-adults from buses altogether. Meanwhile Paddick throws his lot in with the cabbies, and everyone steals Sian's opposition to the third runway.

But the latest idea doing the rounds is the Thames Estuary airport. Long known primarily for being the sort of place your parents complained that you sounded like you came from, the Thames Estuary is now being promoted by Boris Johnson as the solution to the whole 'economy v Londoners' battle which rages nightly in the Evening Standard.