Homecoming Scotland: a stereotyped money-spinner


In the year 250AB (After Burns), the Scottish Government launches a national advertising campaign to boost our tourism industry. Homecoming 2009 aims to promote Scotland’s natural landscape and unique architecture. The tourists are supposed to fly in, spend a fortune and revitalise our flagging economy. Until you do the maths, that is; then you find that BAA and Donald Trump are the only ones who'll benefit.

Ask almost anyone Scottish and it's clear that this is an unpopular campaign. It makes a mockery of Scottish traditions, depicting Scots as Haggis-munching kilt-and-sporan-wearing bagpipe players; the latest attempt to corporatise Scotland into a postcard country. What is the justification of publicising a country widely known as one of the most beautiful and richly historic in the world by focusing on throwing a caber, and - you guessed it - playing golf!

It’s slightly suspicious we’re championing the sport which through Donald Trump’s endeavours will destroy a true tourist attraction: the Menie dunes. The Homecoming branding is supposed to appeal to stereotype-hungry Scottish descendants but ignores the basis of what our tourism sector depends on: Scottish people. Most money spent at tourist destinations in Scotland is by Scots; evidenced on several occasions, including after the 9/11 and foot and mouth, when spending at tourist destinations in Scotland actually went up, despite a significant decrease in overseas visitors.

It is neither surprising, nor unexpected that BAA back the scheme, proudly stating on the Aberdeen airport site that "with direct flights from more than 25 countries to Scotland, it’s never been easier to come home.” BAA doesn't want to promote ex-pats and foreign tourists; it wants us to "come home" after we’ve spent all our money somewhere else and used one of their airport to get there.

The aviation industry claims that promoting airport expansion will bring tourism to Scotland, but increased flights are having the opposite effect. The UK has a £17 billion tourism deficit because UK residents spend more abroad than overseas visitors do here. The only people we need to come home are those who've bought into the industry's spin and become addicted to holidays abroad - and they won't be swayed by any amount of cliches, kilts and caber-tossing.

Cop watch: cops caught trying to bribe a Plane Stupid activist

For the past few months Plane Stupid has been aware of efforts by the police to recruit paid informers on our movement. One of our activists, Tilly Gifford, has been recording secret meetings between herself and the police, in which they made a number of outrageous claims about the group and offered to pay her make her student debts go away.

Tilly recorded the meetings to expose how police seek to disrupt the legitimate activities of climate change activists. She met the officers twice; they said they were a detective constable and his assistant. During the taped discussions, which you can listen to on the Guardian's website [1] [2] [3] the officers:

  • Indicate that she could receive tens of thousands of pounds to pay off her student loans in return for information about individuals within Plane Stupid.
  • Say they will not pay money direct into her bank account because that would leave an audit trail that would leave her compromised. They said the money would be tax-free, and added: "UK plc can afford more than 20 quid."
  • Accept that she is a legitimate protester, but warn her that her activity could mean she will struggle to find employment in the future and result in a criminal record.
  • Claim they have hundreds of informants feeding them information from protest organisations and "big groupings" from across the political spectrum.
  • Explain that spying could assist her if she was arrested. "People would sell their soul to the devil," an officer said.
  • Warn her that she could be jailed alongside "hard, evil" people if she received a custodial sentence.

Read the transcripts and listen to the recordings here:  [1] [2][3].

Cop watch: climate profiteers are the real criminals

Over the last six months, Plane Stupid activists have been targeted by a campaign of police intimidation. Many of our activists have been approached and teased with incentives to inform on the rest of the group. Elderly activists have been held in a cell overnight for innocently writing 'you fly, we die' in the snow. Now we can reveal that one of our activists, Tilly, was offered a blunt choice: either she spies on Plane Stupid or risks being unable to finish her degree.

The police claimed it wasn’t Plane Stupid they were “worried about, but individuals within Plane Stupid”; individuals, they claimed might be planning acts of violence in the name of our cause. We've heard it all before. At the Climate Camps, it was the elusive “hardcore of trouble-makers” intent on provoking violence, and in the case of the Nottingham conspiracy, “those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site." EON, the owners of the alleged target of the alleged protest, gave us a helpful clue about what is going here in their statement following the arrests: “While we understand that everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things.

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Their statement conflates the notions of ‘lawful’ and ‘peaceful’ protest. But the critical distinction between these two lies at the heart of the question of whether the level and type of policing being applied to the climate movement can be justified. Peaceful does not mean the same thing as lawful. No activists at Plane Stupid or the Climate Camp have ever been convicted of a violent crime, and we are proud to be a part of the long tradition of non-violent protest. Plane Stupid welcomes direct action in its name, so long as it is peaceful and accountable.

We know what we have to do. Stopping runaway climate change means taking action to stop and expose those working to protect a system which protects profit over the planet. Plane Stupid is not a threat to anyone‘s health or well-being. But we are a financial threat to big business and a financial threat to carbon-heavy industry. Aviation is still the fastest growing source of Co2. If the Climate Change bill is to be enforced, the industry has to scale down massively. For us, this isn’t merely about Plane Stupid and the police, it is about exposing 'police' tactics which protect a criminal justice system that defend big business instead of civil liberties.

The actions we take are necessary and sensible in light of the scientific evidence. We are a growing movement of concerned citizens who are prepared to put our bodies in the way of these high-carbon developments. We do so because we believe it is both justified and necessary, and that the negative consequences of our actions are better than the consequences of inaction. There's no need to carry out surveillance to catch us, we’re not going anywhere – you’ll find us chained by our necks to a conveyor belt, or superglued to the Prime Minister’s jacket. There is no need to punch or kick us either – that’s why we’re chanting “this is not a riot” with our hands in the air.

It is time to drop the discredited pretence of preventing violence against people, and start a serious conversation about all of this: about why the lie of violence has been accepted for so long despite the absence of any evidence to support it; about what constitutes appropriate policing of peaceful protest, even when it may be unlawful; and about whose interests are really being served by devoting such extravagant police resources to preventing peaceful disruption to major polluters, companies whose core activities are driving us ever closer to the precipice of catastrophic, runaway global warming.

Aberdeen airport: BAA's claims ring hollow


On 3rd March we shut Aberdeen airport for 6 hours, cancelling 19 flights and disrupting a further 20. BAA claim that the disruption cost around £1 million, but strangely claim that it wasn't the airport operator who paid the cost, but the cash-strapped North East of Scotland.

This is clearly ludicrous. Aviation gets off very, very lightly: avoiding fuel tax, escaping without paying VAT on tickets and throwing some token APD about every now and then as tif to compensate. This all adds up: £9 billion annually across the UK. This revenue comes straight from other sectors in the economy and is incredibly regressive. We don't all fly equally; by giving the airlines an easy ride we are transferring cash from those who fly least to those who fly most, from the poorest to the richest.

In a year when schools and hospitals are struggling to keep afloat it makes no sense to let wealthy fliers off so easily. Britain has the most expensive walk-on train fares in Europe and inadequate north-south rail links; meanwhile the Government has reduced rail subsidies and wants to expand all the airports. If BAA really gave a toss about the North East it could always volunteer to be taxed like everyone else. Thought not.

Scottish blockaders up in court

The nine protestors who were arrested at Aberdeen airport on Tuesday morning have spent the night at Inverurie police station and appeared at Aberdeen sheriff's court this morning. They were protesting against the short-sighted, illogical, unnecessary and environmentally damaging expansion of Aberdeen airport and other airport sites across the country.

The nine were in good spirits despite spending several hours sitting in the cold at the airport, followed by a night in the cells. They should be proud of themselves: despite media reports to the contrary (and some initial confusion at our end), when asked to pack up by the police because an air ambulance needed to take off they did so and handed themselves in. The managing director of the airport confirmed that the protest "wasn't a significant delay" to the ambulance.

No one has the right to call these young men and women dangerous or irresponsible. If our elected officials had their moral courage then perhaps we wouldn't be headed towards a climate crisis with heads collectively buried in the sand. When they get out of police custody they should all be given a hearty great metaphorical pat on the back. Unless, of course, you see them in person; then they deserve a great big warm hug. Big up, one and all.

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.”

Trump's golf course fuels airport expansion

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the American tycoon behind the theme-park golf course set to trash the beautiful Aberdeenshire coast, has been linked to plans to expand Aberdeen airport. Not content with making a mockery of the Scottish government by ignoring local decision makers (not to mention 9 of the holes being built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest) Trump has been a driving force behind aviation expansion. The destruction of the largest and most superlative dynamic dune system in North-west Europe appears to not even register when a back-hander from a rich American is in the equation.

Trump’s golf course is aimed at rich foreign tourists; he plans to keep them on site as much as possible, minimising any economic gains for the local community. Obviously wealthy tourists will be flying in, and Donald has also planned helicopter rides from the airport to the resort! Aberdeen airport has been using his golf course to justify expansion. It's plans to support almost 6 million passengers by 2030 are yet another blow to the 'groundbreaking' climate bill.

The resort has already been criticised by Architecture and Design Scotland as destroying a very sensitive area and devaluing Scottish architectural tradition with mock Victorian construction, so the extra airport capacity is just a small part of the problem. Hollyrood is trying to trick us, showing artificial financial input with one hand, whilst hiding the real cost with the other. This golf course will bring nothing but irreversible environmental degradation on a local and global level. Do they really think that we are that blind?

Scottish Government's stupidity goes intergalactic

Space ship

The Scottish National Party has recently called for an RAF airbase in Moray to become the UK's first commercial spaceport. Put all those Star Trek fantasies out of your mind: once you take into account the impact of running a space station the eco-impacts go into orbit. Will Whitethorn, President of Virgin Intergalactic, described the total environmental cost per launch of your average NASA rocket as the same as that of New York over a weekend.

NASA launches space shuttles twice a year; Virgin wants to have 2 flights per day. Space travel is not covered in the climate change act, so the Government is just pretending the emissions don't exist. They must want to turn Scotland into a playground for international jetsetters. Flights on one of the shuttles will cost somewhere in the region of £150,000, far beyond the reach of most Scottish citizens.

Politicians are living on another planet if they think that they can cop out of our commitment to deal with climate change. Going over our carbon budget will have a devestating impact on our citizens. The problem is that they get caught up in these mad schemes for super golf courses and magic spaceports. Perhaps they are betting that when climate change kicks in they'll have a seat on one of Virgin's rockets out of here.

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.

Three cases dropped for Plane Stupid Scotland

Case dismissed

Is the Government scared of taking climate activists to court now? Just two weeks after the widely-publicised and successful trial of the ‘Kingsnorth Six’, three Plane Stupid Scotland cases were dropped by the Scottish Crown Courts in one week.

The ‘Kingsnorth Six’ were found to have a ‘lawful excuse’ to cause damage to climate-destructive Kingsnorth coal fired power station because they were acting to protect property around the world "in immediate need of protection" from the impacts of climate change, caused in part by burning coal.