Barely a week goes by without an overpaid executive from some beleagured corner of the aviation industry getting confused about industry growth, efficiency and emissions.
This week it's the turn of World Travel and Tourism Council president Jean-Claude Baumgarten, who urged immediate action on congestion at the UK's airports, saying that the UK needed “to get its act together."
Executive flights at Biggin Hill and Farnborough airports have been brought to a standstill by climate activists concerned at the huge growth in the use of private jets by business people. The activists D-locked themselves to the gates of the airports.
At a time of growing public concern at the climate impact of the aviation industry, business jets have escaped public scrutiny. The actions are intended to raise awareness of the true cost of this hidden aspect of air travel.
Richard George, currently at Biggin Hill said, "The aviation industry would like us to think that all flights are being taken by hard-working families on their once-a-year holiday. We are here today to shine a light on the dark secret of aviation: the enormous growth in the use of private jets."
The protesters added that the actions are focused only on the carbon-intensive nature of private business jets. George added, "This is the super rich sticking two fingers up at the rest of us, and our attempts to reduce our carbon emissions by not only flying as often as they like, but insisting on flying in the most carbon-intensive way possible: a jet all of their own."
Update: all protestors plead guilty and were giving an unconditional discharge!
An environmental activist was so enraged that lastminute.com continue to push short haul flights whilst knowing the damage they do to the climate, that she super-glued herself to the front door of the company's Victoria HQ.
At 8am this morning, Penny Eastwood - a member of climate action group, Plane Stupid - pasted superglue over her hands and glued herself to the front doors of the building and by doing so blocked staff from entering their offices.
Before she was arrested, Penny said, "Whilst G8 leaders have simply spouted more hot air, I've showed what just one person can do to shut down climate criminals."
She added, "Lastminute.com irresponsibly encourage people to binge-fly five times a year. In other words, they're forcing the world towards the brink of eco-meltdown and all for a quick buck!"
Green activists today marked the tenth anniversary of Tony Blair coming to power by visiting his best friends in industry to highlight the revolving door between Labour and the aviation industry and his failure to tackle climate change. A team of protestors from climate action group, Plane Stupid, are blocking the ‘revolving door’ to BAA’s Heathrow HQ to oppose government and industry plans for airport expansion.
The activists have chained up the front doors to the offices and have dumped copies of the science of climate change, reports from the UN and from the Tyndall Centre, into the reception area. The activists have pledged not to allow the staff out until they’ve read the science. Other campaigners have unfurled a banner outside the building stating, “Read the science @ www.planestupid.com”
Campaigner for Plane Stupid, Leo Murray, explained:
“In years to come, Blair will be remembered for systematically approving climate-wrecking projects like airport expansion. But it might not have happened if it weren’t for the fact that the revolving door between Labour and BAA just hasn’t stopped spinning.”
“We can’t believe that if BAA had read the science, they’d still be pushing ahead with their climate-crazy plans for airport expansion. With Blair preparing to leave office, UN climate scientists gathering in Bangkok, and the hottest April on record, it’s time BAA used their enormous influence to tell Blair to ditch expansion plans or leave with a legacy of failing on climate change.”
This Friday’s IPCC report on mitigation of climate emissions, a draft copy of which has been obtained by Plane Stupid, confirms, “Land use planning and transport demand management can make a significant contribution.”
Londoners facing house demolitions and increased noise from government plans for expansion of Heathrow took direct action against the plans for the first time. They stormed the stage at an aviation industry conference and disrupted an address being made by the Transport Minister, Douglas Alexander.
The residents from the West London villages of Sipson and Harmondsworth joined environmental activists from climate action group, Plane Stupid, and breached security at Chatham House. Some unfurled a banner reading, "No Third Runway" whilst another went nose-to-nose with the Minister in front of the conference delegates. Other residents with banners demonstrated outside the conference centre.
Local resident Dr John Hunt from Hounslow who went head-to-head with Alexander on the stage, said, "For decades the government has betrayed us with a catalogue of broken promises. In the 80s we were told Terminal 4 would be the last expansion, then in the 90s we were told Terminal 5 would be the end. Now we’re facing yet more noise and more concrete, and this time they want to wipe our entire community off the map. The time for gentle persuasion is over. Douglas Alexander is warned: the fight back has begun."
He added, " We’re glad to be joined by our eco-warrior friends from Plane Stupid. They’ve done this kind of thing before and have been helpful with their direct action training over recent weeks. I think it’s safe to say there’s more of this to come."
Plane Stupid shot into the headlines with their blockade of an airport runway at Nottingham East Midlands short haul airport in September. The group have also occupied BAA and Easyjet offices in recent months, and organised November’s national day of action against short haul flights.
Plane Stupid’s Richard George said, "Whist Ministers like Douglas Alexander preach about action to stop climate change they’re concreting over local democratic opposition to new runways with their plans to cater for unnecessary and climate-wrecking short haul flights. It’s not surprising that having failed though conventional protest, the residents have decided to up the ante."
Environmental activists opposed to the climate wrecking effects of short haul flights have this morning shut down the HQ of Easyjet in London. Activists from green direct action group, Plane Stupid, took action on Britain’s first national day of action against short haul flights today which coincides with the start of the UN Climate talks in Nairobi.
It comes as new research from HACAN Clearskies shows that 100,000 flights from Heathrow each year are to short haul destinations that are easily reachable by the more sustainable train alternative.
At 6.50am, 12 activists occupied the inside, roof and front entrances of the offices on Oval Road in Camden using chains, piping and D-locks. They have unfurled a large banner from the rooftop overlooking the street which reads, "End Short Haul Flights".
Further, around 25 travel agents across the UK last night had their front doors chained shut by activists who left signs on the windows reading, "Closed for a total rethink. See www.planestupid.com".
Campaigner for Plane Stupid, Andy Nash, explained, "Bing-flying is choking the planet to death. As warnings mount about the irreversible effects of climate change, it is totally out of order for Easyjet to be offering artificially cheap flights to destinations easily reachable by the train alternative which is over ten times less polluting."
Activist, Leo Murray, added, "The politicians will jet off to Nairobi this week to continue with their bleating about the need for action on climate change. Meanwhile, they encourage short haul flights through their airport expansion plans and the tax breaks they give to the airline industry. When our ability to live on earth is at stake, they haven’t got the spine to sacrifice their ability to live in Portugal on the weekends."
In the last few months, Plane Stupid grounded planes at a short-haul airport by blockading the taxiway and marked the 60th Anniversary of Heathrow by chaining themselves across the entrance to BAA’s head office. They are part of a rapidly growing grassroots movement tackling the root causes of carbon emissions.
Environmental protestors have breached security at Nottingham East Midlands Airport and established a second camp for climate action - this time on an airport taxiway. Their aim is to stop carbon emissions from what they are describing as a climate change factory. A Baptist Minister whose former parish is in Nottingham is leading a remembrance service on the taxiway, in memory of the victims of climate change, reminding his congregation of the Bishop of London’s comments that "Flying is a symptom of sin."
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."