A dozen activists who took symbolic direct action against the expansion of Manchester Airport are to stand trial, after entering pleas of not guilty to obstructing the highway and aggravated trespass.
On Monday May 24 2010, two groups of Manchester-based activists working under the banner of “Plane Stupid” took part in symbolic direct action at Manchester Airport. One group of six created a human circle around a wheel of a stationary freight plane using “arm-tubes”. Meanwhile another group who used tripods to blockade the World Freight Terminal preventing airfreighted goods from being taken in and out. Nobody was injured, and no passengers were delayed in their flights
Both groups have been in court, and entered pleas of not guilty. The tripod group – charged with obstruction of the highway- goes on trial on December 6. The armtube group, in court on Tuesday on a charge of aggravated trespass, will stand trial on February 21 2011. Their defence will centre around their claim that their action was necessary to take in“ light of Manchester Airport’s contribution to runaway climate change”, and will include testimony of “expert climate scientists.”
Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which runs the Airport, also owns Bournemouth Airport, East Midlands Airport and Humberside Airport . It is wholly owned by the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester, with its majority (55%) share in the hands of Manchester City Council. Manchester’s Climate Change Action Plan, which calls for a 41% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 crucially only includes the ground operations of the airport (heating, taxiing of planes etc), excluding the emissions of planes that are travelling to and from the airport.
The Airport’s head of press relations has personally assured Manchester Climate Fortnightly that they will provide a press statement. Manchester City Council, which owns 55% of Manchester Airports Group, has also been approached for comment by MCFly.
Manchester Airports and the protesters.
The building of a second runway between 1994 and 1997 led to a concerted campaign of non-violent direct action, including tunnels, treehouses and a “battlestar” in the path of the development.
You can read a participant being interviewed here, on the Radical Manchester Website.
In January 2009 a short “protest” took place at Manchester Airport, in a space chosen for the protesters by the police and Airport authorities. (Reported here, despaired of here). In October 2007, a brief symbolic blocking of the domestic departures lounge led to a public debate between the protesters and the airport and its supporters (including the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce)
For the Plane Stupid press release, see