Plane Stupid UK meets Plane Stupid Germany
It was always going to be a match made in heaven as on the weekend activists from Plane Stupid met for the first time with campaigners from Plane Stupid Germany at the first ever International Airport Residents Conference held in Munich.
The stories were similar. Munich Airport wants a third runway but are being met with fierce resistance. Like Sipson in West London, Attaching, the location of the conference just outside Munich, is facing the demolition of people's homes and community to make way for another runway.
250 people who attended the conference, mostly locals, heard stories about the impacts of aviation on people's everyday lives. The stories from all over Europe were different, but each time there were many similarities. The noise impacts are always horrific, air pollution rates are out of control and the most worrying reality of all this planned airport expansion is that we're surely left with no chance of preventing the worst affects of climate change.
However, resistance is rife. From Nantes to London, Munich, Berlin, Leipzig, Austria, Brussels and in Frankfurt where over 1500 people are occupying the airports terminal every Monday, ordinary people are fighting back all over Europe.
The campaign in Munich in particular has a great chance of success and John Stewart's (Chair of Airport Watch & HACAN) talk at the conference on 'how the Heathrow campaign was won' offered much inspiration.
Last year, in an almost copycat protest to when Plane Stupid members famously got on top of the roof of Parliament, activists from Plane Stupid Germany organised a banner drop at their Town Hall. And as we have in Sipson, activists have now built great relationships with the community around the airport who are faced with losing there homes. At a recent region wide referendum, the votes counted showed that most people now oppose a third runway at Munich, a result that the Plane Stupid Germany activists can take much responsibility for.
The second day of the conference was a campaigning session where we made a presentation on the history, justification and previous examples of direct action taken by ourselves. The German activists and residents were left inspired, and although the majority of them are a lot older than we are – to our amusement we must add, if the government don't scrap the third runway plans soon - I wouldn't be surprised if we see a member of Plane Stupid Germany on the newspaper front pages super-glued to a politician in the near future.