Protestors take direct action to blockade BAA Headquarters
Environmental activists blockaded the Heathrow Headquarters of BAA, preventing employees from entering the building. The action marked the 60th birthday of Heathrow airport.
The action by campaign group, Plane Stupid, was in support of local people whose homes will be demolished if a third runway gets the go ahead. A small team of protestors used piping and chains to lock themselves across the main entrance to the company’s offices, and have unfurled a banner reading, "No Airport Expansion".
Plane Stupid spokesman, Joss Garman, explained, "Since Heathrow is now 60, it’s time BAA took a health check – or better, early retirement. Emissions continue to rise with aviation now the fastest growing cause of climate change and, like a cancer, Heathrow is swallowing up villages like Sipson – wiping established communities off the map."
He added, "In 60 years, Heathrow has grown from being a small local airport into a climate change factory. BAA's plan to expand the airport further puts them in the premier league of climate change criminals. BAA can be assured; today’s action is just the start of our direct action campaign to stop airport expansion."
Last year 475,000 planes used Heathrow airport, with a plane landing at or taking off from the airport every 45 seconds throughout the day. If plans go ahead to make more use of the existing runways and build a third runway, flight numbers could exceed 700,000 according to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Air pollution levels are already above the recommended levels and, according to a report published in March 2006, would exceed the EU legal limits were a third runway to be built.
In 1980, the government approved Terminal 4 on the understanding that there would be a cap of 260,000 plans using the airport each year and it would be the last development at Heathrow. In 2001, Terminal 5 was given the go-ahead on the condition that flight numbers at the airport did not exceed 480,000 a year. Within two years, the government proposed a third runway which the government estimates will lead to at least 655,000 flights per year.
In 1995, as BAA sought permission for a 5th Terminal, they ruled out a third runway, writing in its company newspaper, Heathrow News, "BAA has said repeatedly, 'There will be no third runway.'"
John Stewart, Chair of HACAN Clearskies, said, "The story of Heathrow is one of deception from day one. The only difference is that these days BAA does it with more style and spin. They constantly try to re-assure their 'stakeholders' that they have their best interests at heart whilst all the time plotting further expansion."