The camp at the end of the runway

Manchester airport plans to press ahead with its expansion plans, demolishing local homes and green spaces, and doubling air freight capacity. Local group Manchester Airport on Trial are hosting a camp for a weekend in the woods at the end of the runway. They are asking people to come and join them to get to know the local area and local residents and to learn more about the campaign against expansion.

Plans for the weekend include: walk and cycle caravan to look at sites of campaigning significance such as Arthur's Wood, the World Freight Centre, Hasty Lane and the sites of the 2nd runway protest camp.

The first group who are heading down there are meeting at 5:30pm at Piccadilly station on Friday 27th May or at 6pm outside Manchester Central Library for a critical mass which is heading straight for the camp.

There is an alternative meet time of 11am at Heald Green Station on Saturday 28th May for a walk and cycle caravan.

See you there.


Campaigners remain defiant after Manchester airport protest sentencing

Campaigners from the ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ group were sentenced today after a 2 day trial at Trafford Magistrates’ court. The judge recognised the “sincerity” and “laudable motives” of the protesters, and handed down lenient sentences of 2 year conditional discharges and £310 in court costs each. One defendant received 80 hours of community service. The 6 campaigners stood trial for an action last May 2010 where they formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet. All 6 pleaded not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass, stating that they acted out of necessity to prevent the higher crime of climate change.

In November 2009 Manchester airport received planning approval to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport, which will result in the demolition of local homes and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Although the coalition government cancelled plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, campaigners are now focussing their action more regionally as capacity is now being increased at regional airports instead.

Martin Eakins, local councillor, described the local efforts to prevent expansion at the Airport. In response to the judge’s suggestion that campaigners would have had a strong case for judicial review of the plans, he explained that they had been refused funding on the basis that their challenge would be unsuccessful. Local resident, Pete Johnson, whose home on Hasty Lane faces demolition, told the court that their “efforts were thwarted by politicians with vested interests,” and that he felt “angry, frustrated and cheated.”

Over the 2 days the court has heard from many leading public figures who spoke out in defence of the ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ group. On day one, leading scientist, Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in Manchester, spoke out on the aviation industry’s ‘special treatment’. The aviation industry receives £9 billion a year in tax subsidies. Dr Geoff Meaden spoke on the impacts of climate change in the North West. Today public health expert Dr Robin Scott spoke on the health impacts of climate change. Expert witness statements were also read out including one written by John Mcdonnell MP who was a vocal politician in defeating the third runway at Heathrow airport.

People from across North England have now pledged to continue taking direct action to stop the expansion plans. The threatened homes in Manchester have ‘twinned’ with the village of Sipson which would have been demolished to make way for the Heathrow expansion.

Speaking after the ruling one of the 6 defendants Iain Hilton, said: 

“Whatever the outcome was today, this climate court trial will not be the last. Climate change is accelerating at the same rate as it was before and continues to be the biggest threat to life as we know it. We have heard in court peer-reviewed Science, public health advocates, witness statements from MPs and we have heard from communities whose homes are threatened by airport expansion plans at Hasty Lane. We will not wait for the judicial system to act. Civil disobedience is a duty and a responsibility and we will continue to act to stop climate change”.

John Mcdonnell MP said:

“When governments themselves so blatantly ignore the wishes of the people they are elected to represent, when they promote the sectional interests of one sector of business above the interests of their citizens, when they deny Parliament an effective role, when they subvert their own democratic planning processes, and when their actions so dangerously contradict their own legislation on climate change, responsible citizens are left with no alternative but to take direct action to further the cause that they believe in.”

Scientist Kevin Anderson said in court:

“Why is it fair that aviation continues to be a special case while every other sector has to reduce their emissions? Every year we have an exponential increase in CO2 embedding us in a future of dangerous climate change. If aviation continues to grow that means we’re heading for 4 degrees, but that would only be a transient temperature on the way to an equilibrium rise of 6 to 8 degrees. A rise of 4 degrees is dire, above that it gets worse and worse- it is a future that we contemplate at our own peril.”

Verdict to be today in Manchester Climate Trial

After a fantastic day yesterday, we've just got news that the judge will announce his verdict at 2pm this afternoon on the six defendants in the Manchester Airport on Trial case.
It's a bit earlier than we expected, but we're really hopeful for the right outcome. With the strength of arguments from our panel of expert witnesses, we're sure the judge can't help but be convinced!
Yesterday we heard from Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, whose testimony on the effects of climate change and the role played by aviation emissions was as terrifying as it was inspiring. He told us that "every day we are reducing the chances of living a reasonably liveable future," and that only if we take action now can we hope to keep global warming to anything resembling manageable levels. You can read his full report, as submitted to the court here.
Today Martin Eakins, Lib Dem councillor in Manchester, told the court how local councillors voted unanimously against the expansion plans but were totally ignored by the owner of the airport, Manchester City Council. Local resident, Pete Johnson, described the proposed demolition of his family home - you can read more about the threat to the Hasty Lane community on the Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport blog: Hasty Lane's been twinned with the village of Sipson at Heathrow, who finally triumphed over similar plans to bulldoze their village by Heathrow airport last year
We'll let you know more from court as soon as we hear, and blog more about the testimonies of all the witnesses. Thanks for all your messages of support!

Manchester airport protesters claim lawful excuse as climate trial begins

The trial of six climate protesters who breached airside security at Manchester Airport began today at Trafford Magistrates Court. The defendants will argue that they acted to prevent death and serious injury by stopping emissions from the airport, a plea which echoes the defence of Greenpeace campaigners acquitted of closing down Kingsnorth Power Station. During the trial, which is expected to last three to four days, the defence will call expert witnesses including Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre who is speaking today in court, and experts on health and the effects of climate change.

The trial begins ten years after Manchester Airport opened their second runway in February 2001, following some of the largest environmental protests of the 1990's. The six defendants will plead not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass after they formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet last May 2010.

In November 2009 the airport received planning approval to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport, which will result in the demolition of local homes. Although the coalition government cancelled plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, campaigners are now focussing there action more regionally as capacity is now being increased at regional airports instead.

People from across North England have pledged to take direct action to stop the expansion plans. The threatened homes in Manchester have 'twinned' with the village of Sipson which would have been demolished to make way for the Heathrow expansion. Witnesses for the defence at the trial will include a local Lib Dem Councillor and John McDonnell, the Labour MP for the Heathrow area.

Supporters of the 'Manchester Airport on Trial' group gathered outside court this morning with a large paper aeroplane. The mock paper plane was made from a March 2010 High Court Ruling, stating that the airport expansion plans are incompatible with the Climate Act 2008. 

Kerry Williams, speaking outside court from the 'Manchester Airport on Trial' group said:

The trial started with a huge show of support showing that people aren't willing to be bullied by airports and government greed in the face of runaway climate change. It's not OK for the aviation industry to be a special case whilst avoiding paying taxes, creating more emissions and more noise. In an age of austerity we need to continue taking direct action to protect people, the climate and not the aviation industry. "

Jo Rake, Heathrow resident and climate campaigner made the journey up to Manchester and said:

By 2050 Manchester Airport plans to be as busy as Heathrow is today, becoming 'the Heathrow of the North' with flights every 70 seconds. We showed the success of people power to scrap the third runway at Heathrow and so we can't let the flights be transferred to Manchester Airport instead. We cannot allow a climate catastrophe and the demolition of family homes at Hasty Lane. If we can win at Heathrow, we can win in Manchester too.”

The defendants have received a number of statements of support from national politicians, journalists, lawyers, organisations and individuals including Zac Goldsmith MP, Caroline Lucas MP and John Sauven, director of Greenpeace.

For updates follow the Manchester Airport on Trial Twitter feed.


Site battles: the second runway at Manchester Airport


Thursday 17th February 2011

7:30 pm

University of Manchester Students Union - Council Chambers

In the late 1990s, people from across Greater Manchester united to oppose a second runway at Manchester Airport. Whilst local villagers marched and rallied, environmental protestors occupied tree houses and dug tunnels on the land where the runway now lies.

Ten years after the opening of the second runway - we ask, what happened and what's changed? What is the impact of the Airport today both on local residents and globally in terms of climate change? Who is challenging the Airport today and why?

Join us for this photo exhibition and speaker event with original video footage from the protest camps and hear from people who were involved at the time.

We will also be joined by Melanie Strickland from Wild Law UK who will address the problem of what is missing from our legal system that allows environmentally destructive projects such as new runways to go ahead. What solutions are being proposed to these problems?

The event has been co-hosted by People and Planet and Manchester Climate Action in the run up to the trial of six activists facing charges for a protest action at Manchester Airport. The four day trial begins on Monday 21st February at Trafford Magistrates Court.

For more information see:

Manchester Airport on trial

Manchester Climate Action

Manchester Plane Stupid vow to fight on

Two Manchester Plane Stupid activists who blockaded the road entrance to the World Freight Centre of Manchester Airport have been found guilty of obstruction of the highway. The group remain united and have vowed to continue the fight against the aviation industry.

The two defendants, Mark Howarth and Amanda Walters, had pleaded not guilty to the charge on the grounds that their obstruction of the highway was a reasonable use of the road considering the significant impacts on local homes and globally in contributing to climate change - caused by the proposed expansion of the airport. The court heard how the defendants had tried other means of redress prior to the protest action in May 2010 but that these methods had been ineffective as of yet in halting airport expansion.

On Monday, nine other defendants involved in the protests pleaded guilty and received fines and costs averaging around £340 each.

Speaking after the case, defendant Mark Howarth said:

"The battle against airport expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick was won because ordinary people came together, joined forces and took on the aviation industry. We've linked up with residents in Manchester and Heathrow and we'll continue to challenge Manchester Airport's expansion plans".

The public campaign 'Manchester Airport on Trial' lives on and the defendants have received support from all kinds of different people and communities including support from Independent journalist Johann Hari, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Labour MP John Mcdonnell and Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith. The 6 who went airside and used armtube lock ons round the wheel of a plane will stand trial seperately for aggravated trespass in Feburary 2011.

Day one of Manchester Airport on trial

There was a huge show of support for defendants at Trafford Magistrates Court this morning for the opening day of Manchester Airport on Trial.

Despite freezing temperatures people from all walks of life came down to the courthouse to wish them well. Pete Johnson one of the residents whose home faces demolition joined the supporters and defendants outside the courthouse with colourful banners. The case has galvanised support from a broad range of supporters from local members of the public, local groups, academics, barristers, writer and journalist for the Independent Johann Hari, and prominent national politicians such as Heathrow Labour MP John McDonnell, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith.

Eleven local campaigners were in court facing charges of obstruction of the highway. Nine of the eleven pleaded guilty unable to bear the cost of a trial and were sentenced at 1pm today. The court heard now the protest had been a 'response to a flawed planning process' and the 'democratic process being thwarted'. The judge handed out fines of an average £300 each before opening the prosecution.

Ali Garrigan, from Manchester Plane Stupid said:

"Today the defendants have taken responsibility for the protest, been accountable for their actions and will pay their fines. Meanwhile, Manchester City Council refuses to take responsibility for the emissions from the airport by excluding them from its Climate Change Action Plan and the aviation industry gets a free ride by paying no tax on it fuel."

The trial continues tomorrow and is set to be an interesting day. Amanda Walters and Mark Howarth, the two defendants pleading not guilty, will be asked to tell the court what effects the expansion of the airport will have both locally, such as on the residents at Hasty Lane, as well as internationally in terms of CO2 emissions and climate change.

Local councillor Martin Eakins will also be speaking to highlight the local democratic deficit and resident Pete Johnson from Hasty Lane will talk about the threat to local homes.

For daily updates check out

Manchester airport protestors appear in Magistrates court

Six Manchester residents from the group Manchester Plane Stupid pleaded not guilty to their charge of aggravated trespass. They claim that in the light of Manchester airports contribution to runaway climate change, it was the necessary action to take. The trial will take place on Feburary 21st 2011 and will be the first climate change trial of its kind in Manchester, where expert scientists from around the world will defend the six against the polluting activities of Manchester airport.

On 24th May 2010, the six heroes created a human circle around a stationary plane in order to keep it grounded - using arm tube lock-ons. The six were challenging the World Freight Terminal expansion plans which will involve the demolition of historic homes on Hasty Lane.

Manchester airport faces increased scrutiny for wanting to increase airport capacity, whilst aviation expansion continues to be incompatible with climate change targets across the UK. Following the groundbreaking decisions to stop expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, the aviation industry is now looking to regional airports such as Manchester to increase profits. The environmental and social impact of Manchester airport will further be in the spotlight during the trial as all the local councillors around the airport had their unanimous objection to expansion overturned by the Manchester Council Planning Committee in November 2009.

Penny Woodson from local campaign group Manchester Climate Action said:

"Despite the threat of climate change, Manchester Airport wants to demolish local people's homes to expand flight numbers and increase emissions. The public are facing VAT rises this January yet the aviation industry pays no VAT at all. With all these injustices stacking up, direct action is necessary."

Another group who simultaneously used tripods to blockade the World Freight Terminal, preventing airfreighted goods from being taken in and out, have been charged with obstruction of the highway. Those defendants have already pleaded guilty and will stand trial on December 6th 2010.

Rally against domestic flights at Manchester and London City airports

Campaigners opposed to the expansion of London City and Manchester Airports will join forces this Saturday in a protest against domestic flights.

The day will begin with a rally at London City Airport at 11am. Campaigners will then travel through London on an open top bus to Euston where they will board a train to Manchester. They will be greeted off the train at Manchester Piccadilly and travel for a second rally at Terminal 3 of Manchester Airport.

There are currently around 38 flights per day between Manchester and the London hubs. Climate activists argue that these are the most unnecessary flights of all because there are easily available alternatives such as the train, which produce a lot less carbon emissions.

Phil Thornhill from Campaign against Climate Change said "As unprecedented flooding devastates Pakistan, record temperatures stoke raging wildfires around Moscow and torrential downpours cause landslides that kill thousands in China - it’s time we got serious about the escalating threat from climate change before it’s too late.  Aviation symbolises the high-emission lifestyles of the developed world that are threatening billions, especially in the most vulnerable communities, around the world. We can start to get to grips with the growth in aviation by eliminating the shorter journeys that can be made in other, less carbon intensive, ways."

Local Manchester councillor Martin Eakins who will be attending the demonstration said, "Aviation from Manchester Airport contributes more greenhouse gasses than all other polluters put together in Manchester. Reducing our carbon output by ending domestic flights would go a long way to making our city environmentally sustainable."

Robbie Gillett from the ‘Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport’ coalition said "There are currently around 38 flights per day between Manchester and the London hubs. Airlines such as Flybe who promote these domestic flights are encouraging airport expansion and threatening the stability of the climate in order to line their own pockets. These flights are the most unnecessary of all and should stop immediately.  Instead, we need to create green jobs in sustainable transport networks such as rail."

Anne-Marie Griffin, Chair of ‘Fight the Flights’ at London City Airport said: "An end to unnecessary domestic flights for trips which could be taken by train, would have a hugely positive impact on the residents around London City Airport. Not only would they experience less flight noise and pollution from City Airports' domestic flights, but also from those heading to Heathrow. Travellers taking the train instead of the plane could help improve the lives and health of thousands of Londoners."

Manchester Plane Stupid occupy Manchester Airport

Activists from the group Manchester Plane Stupid have breached airside security at Manchester Airport today in a protest against the expansion of the airport. The protest involves two groups. The first group of 6 people cut through the perimeter fence and created a human circle around a stationary plane using arm tube lock-ons.

A second group have used tripods to blockade the road entrance to the World Freight Terminal preventing airfreighted goods from being taken in or out. They have unfurled a banner reading: “More air freight = more climate change. Stop all airport expansion now.”

The group are protesting against the recent decision to expand the World Freight Terminal which will involve the demolition of historic homes on Hasty Lane.

Lisa Jameson from Manchester Plane Stupid said, “This isn't just about airport expansion or rising carbon emissions. This is about challenging an economic system based on the absurdity of infinite growth on a planet of finite resources, a system which prioritises bail-outs for the banks and then makes us pay for it in public service cuts. Capitalism is the cause of the problem, climate change is just a symptom.

Following the recent decision to stop expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead airports, the aviation industry is likely to look to regional airports such as Manchester to increase profits.

The third runway at Heathrow was stopped because ordinary people stood up to the government at the time and the aviation industry using a broad range of tactics. Direct action has historically played an important role in creating social change and will continue to do so.

The aviation industry consistently overstate their importance in creating jobs and their contribution to the economy. The lack of tax on aviation fuel is costing the UK economy £9 billion per year. There is also a tourism deficit in the North West region of £2.2 billion. That is the difference between what Britons flying abroad spend in foreign countries and what foreign visitors spend in the North West.

Each round of airport expansion is justified on the promise of more and more jobs. In the 1990s Manchester Airport promised to create 50,000 jobs with the second runway – but the actual number was far lower. We need to begin a just transition to a low carbon economy by creating jobs in sustainable industries such as rail and renewables”

Annie McLaughlin said, “Recently, we've seen attempts by British Airways to use the courts to overturn workers' right to strike. We support the rights of all workers to fight for good conditions. It is essential that the changes needed to prevent climate change are not used as an excuse to restrict workers rights.

The airport, which is owned by local councils, has kept local residents in the dark about the proposed expansion plans, failing to adequately inform them that their homes face demolition.

McLaughlin continued, “The proposed expansion of the freight terminal makes no sense, economically or environmentally. The existing capacity is not fully utilized and an expansion would simply be a stepping stone to expansion of the airport as a whole, which would be an environmental disaster.

With the planet on the verge of climate breakdown it is essential that the real cost of aviation expansion is taken seriously – currently emissions from aviation are not included in Manchester City Council's Climate Change Action Plan.