Friday, May 21, 2010

Elephant attends Council meeting

On 19th May 2010, new councillors were greeted with a giant inflatable elephant at Manchester's town hall. The eight metre long animal was used to remind councillors that Manchester Airport is still the 'elephant in the room' when it comes to Manchester's climate change action plan - as the council have refused to include the emissions from flights in their carbon reduction targets.

The elephant in the room

Members from Stop Expansion of Manchester Airport handed out flyers to councillors and the public warning that the council's climate change plans are undermined by the omission of the airport - especially considering that Manchester City Council owns 55% of Manchester Airport Group (MAG). Members of the public were also warned of the dangers of airport expansion such as rising carbon pollution and noise impacts.

Above: talking to the public

As Councillors met for the first time since the general election, a trailer bike sound system played a set of aircraft noises as a reminder of what life under the flight path can be like for communities in Stockport and Knutsford.

Above: Aircraft sounds

In November 2009, Manchester City council released Manchester: A certain Future which laid out plans to reduce the city's C02 emissions by 41% by 2020. These calculations did not include the full impact of the airport. The next day the council planning committee approved plans to bulldoze residents homes on Hasty Lane to expand the world air freight centre at Manchester Airport.

A recent report by the Committee on Climate change (December 2009) has predicted that Manchester Airport could become as busy as Heathrow with the number of flights doubling by 2050, leading to a flight taking off or landing every 70 seconds.

Recently, the new Coalition Liberal Conservative Government have blocked expansion plans in London at Gatwick, Stanstead and Heathrow. It seems the Aviation industry will be looking to regional airports to expand their profits.

Zoe Creighton-Hird from Stop Expansion of Manchester Airport Coalition Said, "We're here to say that if we're serious about stopping climate change, then we need to invest in sustainable green jobs like rail and put an end to all airport expansion across the country, not just in the South East."

Alex Fountain from Stop Expansion of Manchester Airport said, "There is a tourism deficit in the Northwest of England amounting to £2.2 billion. That's £2.2 billion more being taken out of the region that being brought in by jobs. The argument that the airport is good for the economy and jobs is unfounded. We need an update assessment of the airports role in the region."

Manchester Airport plans to become carbon neutral by 2015 but this doesn't include the emissions from the flights.

For more pictures of the action click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Biodiversity Walk at Manchester Airport

Sunday 9th May 2010

Around 60 people took part in the Biodiversity Walk organised by the Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport coalition. Local residents and campaigners visited green belt areas threatened by the planned expansion of Manchester Airport to learn about the habitats and species which are under threat.

Members of other environmental campaigns around Greater Manchester came along to share their experiences of fighting to protect our natural landscapes from development. As well as a number of homes at Hasty Lane, several important habitats are either scheduled for destruction or likely to be badly affected by expansion plans.

On a family-friendly day out, residents and campaigners were able to see first hand some of the natural beauty still thriving in the shadow of the airport, as well as to learn from the Save our North West Green Belt and Save Chorlton Meadows campaigns about how best to build support and take on a process which too often disregards public opinion and environmental issues.

Manchester Airport has plans to remove areas such as parts of Sunbank Woodfrom the Greenbelt in order to build more carparks and freight sheds.  (Source:  Manchester’s Core Strategy, Manchester Airport Issues Paper, Refining Options Consultation April 2009 - page 8)  

The event is a continuation of the 'Adopt a Resident' scheme where campaigners have teamed up with threatened residents at Hasty Lane to help save their homes.

The areas visited included irreplaceable ancient woodlands directly adjacent to the site of planned development. These woodlands are home to a wide variety of plants and tree species as well as animals like badgers, foxes and buzzards. The proposed airport development would drastically alter the landscape in the area affecting for the survival of these woods.

Campaigners also visited an ancient pond which is home to a population of great crested newts, an endangered species found only in north west England. As well as the destruction of habitats like this, development can separate and isolate populations of a species; this interrupts the natural movement of animals and reduces their genetic diversity, harming their chances of survival.

Local biology enthusiasts explained how development has effects on biodiversity beyond the direct destruction of habitats, and how attempts by developers to offset the damage they cause are no substitute for leaving existing natural environments untouched. The areas earmarked for development should be protected by green belt status, but the airport seems determined to have this status removed to clear the way for development.

Hasty Lane resident Holly Johnson said, "This biodiversity walk aims to give people a visual experience of what airport expansion looks like. Not only is it bad for the climate and responsible for knocking down people's homes, it's also destroying beautiful green spaces. You cannot replace a 400 year old ancient woodland by planting some new trees down the road. That's not how biodiversity works."

Biodiversity enthusiast Alison Hunt said, "I never realised what historic and untouched corners of countryside still exist around the Ringway airport boundaries- ancient woodland and hedgerows, historic cottages and farms, tranquil fields and ponds. These hidden gems are now all threatened by the Airport's expansion plans to become the 'Heathrow of the North'."