Becky's blog

Fairford Air Tattoo sponsored bike ride


The Fairford Air Tattoo returns to the skies of Gloucestershire on Friday 15th July to Sunday 17th July.
This event, which masquerades as a charity whilst simultaneously inviting all the biggest arms dealers from around the world will go one stage further this year – it will proudly exhibit the American A-10 tank buster as one of its star attractions at the show.
This is the plane that has fired hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium (DU) across Iraq and the Balkans. In mockery of those families whose lives have been blighted by DU, it will be used in this year’s show for family entertainment.
Members of Plane Stupid, and a coalition of climate and anti-militarist groups intend to stand in solidarity with all innocent victims of war and will be cycling en masse to the air show in aid of the victims of DU and in support of the ongoing campaigns to get DU banned.
Friday is the ”industry” day when arms deals are made, Saturday and Sunday are the public days where about 150,000 are expected on both days. The plan is to stick to the well marked traffic routes and of course hope to keep to a minimum the chaos that may be caused on the roads!
There will be a series of events during the weekend: bands playing Bob Dylan’s Master of War on Friday evening (at a location that will be announced on the morning of Friday 15th on the Facebooksite Fairford Air Tattoo Sponsored Bike Ride ( and there are also planns for various workshops on the alternatives to a war based economy.
To gauge numbers please either join the Facebook group or contact the organisers at to confirm if you are coming. Bikes can be hired from who can arrange drop off and pick up at Kemble Railway Station.
Please come with your camping equipment to face down one of the biggest events legitimising the military industrial complex’s use of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons and their rights to pollute our planet. 

P.E.D.A.L begins its journey


On the weekend of the 20th and 21st March, P.E.D.A.L. began its 100 day cycle ride at Grow Heathrow in Sipson. The choice of the bicycle as an empowering tool is designed to show the need for a life without dependency on fossil fuels and unsustainable transport. A life where there are other options than flying which simply transports you from A to B with no appreciation for what is along the way.

P.E.D.A.L set off on Monday 21st March with a critical mass of cyclists leaving from Grow Heathrow and stopping off at significant sites in London perpetrating oppression and those in resistance.

Speakers along the way on the critical mass included Mortaza Sahibzada, the managing editor of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) eBook Series and Naomi Wimborne Idrisssi, the Secretary of Jews for boycotting Israeli goods. Presentations included stories of struggle and hope in the UK relating to the Palestine struggle outside the Israeli embassy, outside beauty product store Ahava in central London who sell Israeli goods produced from land on illegally occupied territories and then at Cable Street - the scene of historic anti-fascist and anti-racist riots back in the 1930s.

The group will be cycling in solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli popular resistance movements- responding to the call-out from Palestinian civil society in 2005 to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign. The ride will trace a trail of corporations complicit in the occupation, pollinate information about the campaign and support activists on trial for BDS actions.

The final destination is Palestine and along the way they will stop at many locations across Europe and the Middle East. The purpose of P.E.D.A.L is to highlight the link between social and environmental injustices and how people across borders are responding to them in creative and innovative ways. This will be seen along the route they as they visit different communities where resistance takes positive forms.

PEDALler Andy Grange said:

"In 2011 we have seen explosions of people power across the Middle East. Across the world communities are fighting battles against economic, environmental and political injustice. Nowhere more do we see this than with the Palestinian people struggling for self-reliance, political rights, and liberation. PEDAL begins at an exciting time for popular movements fighting back."

Campaigning - live debate today on the Guardian

Our very own Dan Glass from Plane Stupid will be debating live on the Guardian website today from 1-3pm. Dan will be arguing that grassroots movements are the most effective way of creating change as opposed to top heavy methods from big charities. Check out the panel below:

Chris Norman, Strategy Director at The Good Agency @thegoodagency

A founding partner of The Good Agency, Chris has worked on social and environmental campaigns across not-for-profit, corporate, and government sectors for the last 17 years, developing and implementing communications strategies to engage stakeholders to motivate behavioural and attitudinal change. His experience includes working with ActionAid to tackle issues such as conflict diamonds and patent on food; combating discrimination for Age Concern; banning wild animals in circuses, fighting intensive farming and irresponsible puppy breeding for the RSPCA; with UNISON on public engagement campaigns and social and environmental internal engagement campaigns for corporations like Mars and Diageo.

Linda Butcher, Chief Executive at Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) @smkcampaigners

Linda Butcher joined SMK in September 2008, having been active in the voluntary and community sectors for more than two decades. From 2001-2008, she was Chief Executive of Off the Streets and Into Work (OSW), a charity that worked to alleviate poverty, homelessness and disadvantage, leading the development of the organisation from a London-based programme into an award winning, transnational network of organisations and individuals. OSW and CRISIS merged in 2010. Linda has also been a member of the London School of Economics Research Ethics Committee since 2008.

Dan Glass, Plane Stupid and So We Stand @planestupid

Dan organises with grassroots movements 'Plane Stupid Scotland' and 'So We Stand', bringing together anti-racism, anti-poverty and anti-climate change struggles to take united action.

He has spent the past five years in inner-city community and youth organising in Glasgow, Manchester and London. During this time he has worked building strategies for self-defence with communities of colour and economically marginalised communities that are disproportionately affected by polluting industries. Dan revels in finding ways to be a thorn in the side for those destroying the planet including duly occupying airports and dancing with old ladies blighted by flightpaths.

Jenny Driscoll, Senior Communications Manager at Which?

Jenny has been at Which? for over 12 years and have worked on campaigns in personal finance, energy, food and health. She has held various positions so has vast experience of targeting media, industry and government to achieve campaign aims. Prior to joining Which?, Jenny worked for ActionAid and the Church Urban Fund.

Join in the fun by leaving a comment here, or ask a question live and follow the debate today, Tuesday 15th March, from 1-3pm.

TakeVAT strikes again

TakeVAT, the group which caused disruption at Heathrow two weeks ago, has struck again. This morning they "subvertised" an advertising billboard on a busy South London street as part of their ongoing campaign to highlight the fact that the aviation industry pays no VAT.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Cameron said, "When VAT has just gone up to 20% for the rest of us, it is unfair that one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries in the world doesn't pay any."

Rumour has it that TakeVAT have come out of yours truly, Plane Stupid. They plan more UK-Uncut type actions as part of their ongoing campaign.

Main board text

NO VAT on new *Aircraft. We pay VAT. Why don't they?

The aviation industry pays no VAT. Officially. There is no VAT charged on airline tickets or the purchase of aircraft. It is simply unfair that one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries in the world pays no VAT when it has gone up to 20% for all of us and for the rest of business and industry. We take direct action to highlight this injustice.

Twitter @takeVAT

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.”

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

Aberdeen expansion plans approved

Expansion plans at Aberdeen Airport have been given the go-ahead, with work expected to start in March 2011 and finish in Summer 2012. This 124m extension plan will leave us with no chance of meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. We need a ban on all airport expansion if we are to have any hope of preventing runaway climate change.

Other groups such as Aberdeen Against Climate Change are also opposing these plans. The chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) stated that "transport and connectivity are key to acheiving economic growth and enhancing the quality of life in the region". As seen with other airport expansion plans, it is clear that quality of life for those around the airport is certainly reduced significantly, with the threat of having houses bulldozed, increased air pollution and the construction of other infrastructure such as large access roads.

Tourism deficit means that more money is actually lost from our economy, as people spend more abroad than people spend when in the UK. Plane Stupid calls for a ban on all airport expansion, including at Aberdeen.

Coryton oil refinery gets a crude awakening

On Saturday the 16th October, hundreds of climate activists blockaded the access road to Coryton oil refinery in Essex. This was more than just a symbolic direct action - it directly impacted on the oil system. More than 50 tankers were prevented from leaving the site, that's about 375,000 gallons of fuel.

The day started with 3 blocs meeting in locations around central London, all waiting in anticipation and ready to occupy, build, blockade and reclaim space. As the masses travelled further out of central London, with less than happy police in tow, the energy was mounting. A large road blockade to the Shell Havens Oil Site further down the road consisted of beautiful bamboo tripods, some suitably creative banners and costumes and a personal highlight - the Stilt Bloc.

Police were forced to close the road as further on 12 female activists handcuffed themselves to vehicles deliberately blocking the way for fuel tankers. The day was part of a global week of action against the fossil fuel industry. As the UK's biggest refinery, Coryton is responsible for 22% of the national forecourt demand. Our lives have become so saturated with oil that unless drastic changes are made, we won't stand a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

The Crude Awakening highlighted the failure of governments to have the guts to make the necessary changes; as usual, profits are put before people. Finding new oil reserves is the last thing we need and yet oil companies, hand in hand with governments, continue scouring the planet for the last few drops of dirty oil.

So it's about time we stopped oil companies trampling the rights of local communities, devastating local environments and pushing us all closer towards tipping points. Instead we need to start finding alternative solutions and learning skills for a post-oil future.

Photos of Crude Awakening