Heathrow: making a noise, not a 3rd runway

A stunning protest – memorable as much for the participation of the Archbishop of Canterbury (not in person, mind!) as for the giant NO -which sadly lacked an exclamation mark, but then again, you don’t want to be too demanding on a demonstration ;-)

The Morning Star reports:

Thousands protest at Heathrow expansion
(Sunday 01 June 2008)

LABOUR MP John McDonnell warned on Saturday that a third Heathrow runway would cause “devastation” as he joined thousands of campaigners in a protest against expansion of the west London airport.

Stilt-walkers, brass bands and people in fancy dress were among the hundreds of protesters creating a carnival-like atmosphere for the Make a Noise event.

The demonstrators walked from Hatton Cross to Sipson, the village that will be lost if plans for a third runway go ahead.

At Sipson, the protesters gathered in a field to form a huge “NO” that was visible to passing aircraft.

Sipson locals fear the loss of as many as 4,000 homes if the expansion is approved. They also say that over 2 million people will be exposed to greater noise and air pollution.

Politicians and environmentalists addressed the crowds as the bands played.

Hayes and Harlington MP Mr McDonnell, who was among those leading the protest, said: “This demonstration will show the government the strength of feeling against Heathrow expansion, not just from local people but from community organisations and environmental groups from across London and the whole country.”

Environmentalists warned that a third runway would contribute to global warming.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven, who joined the march from Hatton Cross station to Sipson, said: “There is no need whatsoever for a third runway.

“If everybody took trains to Manchester, Paris, Scotland and Brussels, rather than flying, then a third runway would not need to be built.”

Many people also travelled from across Europe to be part of the demonstration.

Anna Serdaris, from Athens, said: “We have the same problem at Athens airport and I felt I needed to show my support.

“It’s ironic that I’ve had to fly here this morning to protest against airport expansion, but people need to listen!”

Also in the demonstration was a French contingent protesting against a new airport being built in the city of Nantes.

Laymond Beranger said: “Again, we have the same thing happening in my city and I knew that I had to come to London to protest. We must be united.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also sent a message of support.

“Concern for our environment is a clear imperative arising from the respect we owe to creation and to each other,” he said.

“So questions of airport expansion, like all developments that risk increasing the damage we do to our global environment, which still impacts hardest on the poorest, cannot be considered uncritically or in a morality-free zone.”