Scottish climate activists target Scottish First Minister
At 4am this morning, residents from Clydebank, Paisley, Kirkliston and Cramond peacefully set up a stereo and blasted aeroplane noise through the entrance of the First Minister's private residency in Edinburgh. The action stands as a protest 'dawn chorus' to highlight the experience of living life in the shadow of a growing airport. Ironically, the stereo caused 110 decibels of noise - the equivalent of a jumbo jet taking off.
For half an hour about ten residents surrounded the building dressed in bright pajamas, night caps, clutching teddybears, with ear defenders to display the dangerous levels of noise pollution endured by their families and communities. Their placards stated "It's time to wake up to the impacts of aviation" and "have a taste of your own medicine".
The residents took these extraordinary steps to state loud and clear to the First Minister, who holds ultimate say over the fate of the expansion plans, that he cannot ignore any of the effects of airport expansion. These impacts include dangerous noise levels, rising air pollution, climate change and increasing economic uncertainty during the current credit crunch.
Jimmy Kerr, 33, a community worker from Paisley said:
"For us it is a continuous descent into depression. Most mornings I am woken at 4am by the first flights. A sense of frustration with the anti-democratic so-called consultation process has galvanised me into taking action."
Anne, 29, a teacher from Kirkliston said:
"We have taken our issue to the top to say that we cannot remain passive on airport expansion plans anymore. For years we have had to endure environmental injustices perpetrated by the government and BAA and today we are taking a stand."
Today's action marks the first in a new phase of direct action against airport expansion in Scotland. Today's direct action is the first to arise from the 'Plane Speaking' tour of communities, where residents joined Plane Stupid to plan their response to airport expansion plans and sign an 'airports action pledge'.
Activists do not believe that the Scottish Government's plans for sustainable economy and a strong Climate Change Bill are compatible with expanding airports. Aviation is the fastest growing cause of climate change and excessive noise and local pollution means that communities around Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are calling for BAA to be slapped with an Anti Social Behavior Order.
The World Health Organisation has expressed concern about the impact of aviation on human health. Long term (5-30 years) exposure to air traffic noise levels averaging 65 to 75 decibels increases blood pressure and the risk of hypertension. Sleep disturbance leads to fatigue, hypertension, greater risk of heart and respiratory problems, poor concentration in work and school, increased risk of accidents, depression, anxiety and higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse.
Today's action is particularly appropriate as Scotland's planning system is undergoing its most extreme overhaul in 60 years and both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are due for expansion directed through the National Planning Framework 2 (NPF2).