Today the court heard the defence case, that the expansion of the Airport would have significant impacts on local homes and globally in contributing to climate change. Furthermore, the court heard how other methods of redress had been tried prior to the protest action in May 2010.
In February 2010, residents at Sipson Village – which was earmarked for demolition if the previous government had pressed ahead with plans to add a third runway to Heathrow Airport – joined forces with Manchester campaigners in a ‘twinning’ ceremony – which joined Sipson with Hasty Lane, a row of houses near Manchester Airport currently earmaked for demolition if expansion plans go ahead.
Speaking after the case, defendant Mark Haworth said, “The battle against airport expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick was won because ordinary people came together, joined forces and took on the aviation industry. We’ve linked up with residents in Manchester and Heathrow and we’ll continue to challenge Manchester Airport’s expansion plans.”
Fellow defendant Amanda Walters said, “The judge accepted that our concerns were legitimate and that other means of making our views heard had been tried. Whilst the Council continues to impose expansion of the airport onto local people, we will continue to oppose it.”
A large part of the defence case focussed on the ‘reasonableness’ of the action given that other methods of redress had been explored. The witness statements of Manchester Councillor Martin Eakins and Hasty Lane resident Peter Johnson were read out verbatim by the Defence Counsel. In the statement, Eakins described his close involvement in the campaign to Save Hasty Lane, including making official representations to the Wythenshawe Area Committee, petitions and letters to national government.
From Cllr Eakin’s written statement:
“I feel that all democratic avenues were exhausted and I think it is reasonable to say that the only way avenue to achieve carbon reductions through traditional politics in this case was closed.”
In Peter Johnson’s written statement, he described his efforts to prevent his family home from being demolished.
From Peter’s written statement:
“We are now in a position where help and support from other areas in continuing to oppose the decision means that another route must be used if we are to halt this and/or further expansion already proposed or identified by the airport.”
Commenting on the verdict Peter Johnson said,
“I’m disappointed for the individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty – for a cause we should all be worried about. This isn’t just a matter of concern for those of us living at Hasty Lane – the expansion of the Airport will have effects on the whole of Manchester, and the world too. Sadly, actions like these are seldom recognised as being right at the time, but the fight continues.”
Mark Haworth and Amanda Walters were given a fine of £175 an £250 respectively plus were ordered to pay £460 in costs each plus a £15 ‘victim surcharge’ each.
Manchester Evening News coverage