Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SEMA response to government Scoping Document on new aviation policy

Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport submitted a response to the Department for Transport's 'Scoping Document'.

The response can be read here:

The response was endorsed by Councillor Martin Eakins and Manchester Friends of the Earth.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ryanair marketing stall ejected by students

Ryanair had to cancel a marketing event at the University of Manchester Students Union (UMSU) recently, after students dismantled their promotional stall in protest against the company’s record on the environment and workers’ rights.

Ryanair had advertised to hold a stall from 12pm to 3pm on Thursday 29 October 2011. However, at 12.30pm, a group of around nine students began dismantling the company’s banners and display boards and popping their promotional balloons. The Ryanair sales team soon left the building.

Students said the action was in anger at Ryanair’s disregard for the dangers of climate change by aggressively marketing cheap flights. They said the action was also taken in solidarity with disgruntled Ryanair workers. Last August, Ryanair worker John Foley staged a rooftop protest at Liverpool John Lennon Airport against the company’s anti-union activities and poor record on workers rights.

Physics student Catherine Redcliffe said, “Ryainair’s relentless pursuit of profit over all other concerns is trampling on workers’ rights and endangering our future at the same time. The aviation industry takes more money out of Northwest region than it puts in.”

Nonetheless, Ryanair seemed adamant that the day had been a success claiming that their staff were “about to pack up and head home” when the stall was disrupted. Spokesperson Stephen McNamara said, “Ryanair thanks the Plane Stupid clowns for once again turning a good promo into a great promo.”

However, students were bemused by this claim. Redcliffe explained, “Ryanair’s promotional stall was advertised on posters to last from 12noon to 3pm. The stall was dismantled at around 12.30pm after which their sales team left – so they lost out on most of the day. Their response is nothing unusual though. Everyone’s used to being lied to by Ryanair.”

Student Union climate change policies

The students, who did not claim to be from any particular group, were further angered at Students Union management for renting the space to Ryanair in the first place. Previously, students had voted that their union should campaign on climate issues and not have business relations with environmentally-damaging companies.

Geography student Marc Hempton, 20, said, “I wanted to show how Ryanair’s presence was a breach of our democratic process. This is my Union and our collective decision had been sidelined by unelected management. We shouldn’t allow environmentally damaging companies in our union where we have fought for positive policies on climate change and against relationships with unethical companies. I’m glad we sent them packing for the day.”

The day before, activists had petitioned UMSU management with letters signed by students to cancel the promotional event. Management refused, saying that Ryanair stall was bringing in extra cash.

Hempton added, “In some ways, this is a microcosm of problems regarding climate change and workers’ rights. Where making a quick profit is prioritised at the expense of people and our environment, it makes it harder to address these issues and creates bigger costs further down the line.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Response deadline for Government 'Scoping Document' 20th October 2011

The closing date for submissions for the Government's 'Scoping Document' is approaching on Thursday 20th October 2011.

The Scoping Document will help to draft new aviation policy to be released for public consultation in March 2012. The new policy will come into force in March 2013.
Airport Watch, the national umbrella organisation uniting environmental organisations, community groups and individuals opposed to airport expansion have produced a response here.

This includes a number of supporting documents on:

- climate change
- noise

- economics
- biofuels

- health impacts
- business connectivity
and more.
If you wish to respond to the consultation, the details can be found below:
Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation
Date published: 30 March 2011
Closing date: 20 October 2011
The Scoping Document frames the debate and asks a series of questions to initiate a dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders on the future direction of aviation policy.

Download documents

Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation: Scoping document (375 kb)

Reply to consultation by Email:

Or by Post:

Aviation Policy Framework Department for Transport
Great Minster House (1/24)

76 Marsham Street

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SEMA meeting - 2nd June 7.30pm

Join SEMA for a public meeting this Thursday and Benchill Community Centre.
It will be an opportunity to find out what the airport's plans are, how it will affect local communities and how to move forwards.

For more information or to contribute to the agenda contact

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Camp at the End of The Runway 27th-29th May

Just as the airport thought that the trial had ended and they were in for a quite summer, Manchester Airport on Trial in conjunction with Manchester Climate Action have swung into action fo organise a weekend of camping, exploring and workshops down at the airport!

From Friday the 27th May to Sunday 29th May a temporary camp will be set up in the woods, with the opportunity to meet other campaigners, local residents, and find out more about the airport's expansion plans.

Meet 5.30pm at Piccadilly Station 27th May, or at 6pm outside Manchester Central Library for Critical Mass. We will go straight to the camp from Critical Mass.
Alternate meet time: 11am Heald Green Station Sat 28th May for the walk and cycle caravan.
Some hot (vegan) food will be provided for both evenings and breakfast will be sorted too!

What else to bring:
Bike (walkers welcome too, but cycling will be easier)
Decorations for your bike
Camping Kit
Food- Lunch for Saturday
For further info, to find out where we are or get in contact call 07415 940903 or email
See you in the woods!

Timetable for the weekend
5.30pm Meet at Piccadilly Station
6.00pm Meet outside Manchester Central Library for Critical Mass (Cyclists)
7.00pm Depart Critical Mass for the camp
8.30pm Dinner and set up camp
9pm Introduction to the weekend, introductions and stories. Film showing

Yoga first thing in the morning
9 am Breakfast
11.00 am Meet at Heald Green for Bike Caravan or Walk
2.30 pm Walkers and Cyclists meet for at the Romper pub late lunch before continuing on their separate ways
4.30 pm Cyclists meet residents at the Railway Inn, Mobberley
7.00 pm Dinner in the woods followed by social and chilling

Breakfast followed by tat down. Maybe an extra walk. Lifts to the station can be provided if necessary

Manchester Airport – it’s not for the birds

Over 100 employees at Manchester Airport have been given allotment plots, on the outskirts of the airport site, but still only a few hundred metres from the main runway. But the range of food that they can grow is restricted, fruit, or any other plant which might attract birds, is banned. Birds and airports are fundamentally incompatible. Bird strikes, aircraft collisions with birds, can endanger the flights, and are inevitably fatal for the birds as they are minced up in the plane’s engines. In the UK, 1,299 bird strikes were reported to the CAA Civil Aviation Authority in 2007.

On 29th April 2007, a Thomson Fly Boeing 757 with 221 passengers on board took off from Manchester airport on a flight to Lanzarote. Seconds after take-off two birds were sucked into the aircraft’s right engine. After dumping excess fuel the pilot retuned to the airport and made a safe landing using one engine. In this video you can see a bird being sucked into the engine, and the resulting fire. Fortunately the pilot was able to make a safe landing. Bird strikes can appear dramatic with the engines catching fire, but aircraft are designed to withstand this and few incidents result in serious accidents. Between 1988 and 2000, nearly 200 people were killed worldwide as a result of wildlife strikes. This is a small proportion of total air fatalities, which totalled 502 in 2008 alone.

All airports manage habitats on and around the site, in order to make the environment unattractive to birds, removing food sources including edible plants and grasses and shrubs which are habitats for worms and insects, treatment of grass along runways with insecticides and removal of shrubs and any other areas which could be used for nesting. But airports can still prove attractive for birds as the surrounding land is often undeveloped. In 2007 a seagull made a nest and incubated eggs on roof of a car in the long stay car park at Inverness Airport.

When habitat management fails to keep birds away, airports use a variety of methods to frighten them away from runways and flightpaths. Loud noises such as sirens, explosives, firearms and the distress calls of target species are played, and Manchester is one of many airports which uses falcons to chase smaller birds away. Birds can prove remarkably adaptable to all these attempts to frighten them away. When this occurs birds might be relocated, recently a flock of swans was relocated from the Docklands near London City Airport to the town of Windsor in Berkshire. But, frequently, birds which might endanger flights are killed, their eggs destroyed and their nests removed. In 2009, Manchester Airport was preparing for a cull of 800 rooks, one of the largest rookeries in Greater Manchester, in woodland near the airfield, where they had lived there for 300 years. There was a reprieve after an outcry and opposition from residents, bird watchers and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 180 people signed a petition opposing the cull.

Posted by Rose Bridger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Campaigners remain defiant after Manchester airport protest sentencing

At the end of a two day trial 6 campaigners from the ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ group were sentenced today following pleas of not-guilty to charges of aggravated trespass. They were standing trial for an action last May 2010 where they formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet, acting out of necessity to prevent the higher crime of climate change.undefined
After an exciting trial where the defence called upon expert witnesses including climate scientist Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, public health expert Robin Stott, and Heathrow MP John McDonnell amongst others the judge recognised the “sincerity” and “laudable motives” of the protesters, and handed down lenient sentences of 2 year conditional discharges and £310 court costs whilst One defendant received 80 hours of community service.
Although the coalition government cancelled plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, regional airport expansion is still being heavily pursued. In November 2009 Manchester Airport received planning approval from Manchester City Council to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport and increase passenger numbers by a third, which will result in the demolition of local homes and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Despite a High Court ruling which recognised the incompatibility between expansion plans at the UK’s commitments to emissions reduction targets, Manchester City Council has shown an unwillingness to rethink their plans or engage in discussion.
During the trial Martin Eakins, local councillor for Northenden, described the local efforts to prevent expansion at the Airport. In response to the judge’s suggestion that campaigners would have had a strong case for judicial review of the plans, he explained that they had been refused funding on the basis that their challenge would be unsuccessful. Local resident, Pete Johnson, whose home on Hasty Lane faces demolition, told the court that their efforts to engage with the council and oppose the expansion were “thwarted by politicians with vested interests,” and that he felt “angry, frustrated and cheated.”
This was fittingly reflected in a statement from John Mcdonnell MP, who vocally opposed the third runway at Heathrow.
“When governments themselves so blatantly ignore the wishes of the people they are elected to represent, when they promote the sectional interests of one sector of business above the interests of their citizens, when they deny Parliament an effective role, when they subvert their own democratic planning processes, and when their actions so dangerously contradict their own legislation on climate change, responsible citizens are left with no alternative but to take direct action to further the cause that they believe in.”
One of the most inspiring and reaffirming experiences for the defendants and everyone who attended the trial was hearing from leading climate scientist Kevin Anderson, who spoke out on the aviation industry’s ‘special treatment’, asking;
“Why is it fair that aviation continues to be a special case while every other sector has to reduce their emissions? Every year we have an exponential increase in CO2 embedding us in a future of dangerous climate change. If aviation continues to grow that means we’re heading for 4 degrees, but that would only be a transient temperature on the way to an equilibrium rise of 6 to 8 degrees. A rise of 4 degrees is dire, above that it gets worse and worse- it is a future that we contemplate at our own peril.”
He also highlighted how aside from setting fire to a large pool of kerosene in your back garden, flying was the most carbon intensive activity that anyone can engage in.
Speaking at the end of the trial the defendants released the following statement:
“This is the first action in the north contesting airport expansion, and whatever the outcome in court today, this trial will not be the last.

The court heard from respected climate scientists that climate change is accelerating, and continues to be the biggest threat to life as we know it. Having heard from this, the expert testimony, we are more convinced than ever that our actions were justified and necessary.

We have heard in court today from local Councillor Martin Eakins, and from Heathrow MP John McDonnell that the political system both locally and nationally is failing to address the public health emergency that is climate change.

The court heard that Manchester Airport’s expansion plans are based on outdated and flawed policy. Manchester City Council, who own the airport, have a responsibility to abandon proposed plans and change course while there is still time.
The court heard from local resident Peter Johnson, whose home on Hasty Lane faces demolition in order to expand Manchester Airport. He expressed how efforts to oppose the expansion were “thwarted by politicians with vested interests”; and how he felt “angry, frustrated and cheated” by the system that is supposed to represent him.

None of this evidence was challenged in court, and yet the court saw fit to find us guilty.

As the court heard, civil disobedience has a long and honourable tradition in this country, and Manchester has a proud place in that history. We all have a duty, and a responsibility, and we will continue to act to stop climate change.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us during the trial, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aviation expansion= a 4 degree increase; “a future we contemplate at our own peril”

At 9am this morning, a real sense of solidarity could be felt outside Trafford Magistrate’s Court. There was a great turn-out to support the six defendants from Manchester Airport on Trial appearing in court to face charges of aggravated trespass charge for forming a human chain around the Monarch Airline jet at Manchester Airport in May 2010. Everyone was in high spirits, mixed with anticipation, despite the drizzling rain. The relaxed atmosphere was slightly tainted by the unnecessary presence of a FIT officer, invasively filming supporters of the defendants as they arrived at court.
By lunch time today the court had heard from defendants Robbie Gillett and David Cullen who defended their actions on the grounds that they were proportionate and necessary in the face of climate change in order to prevent death and serious injury by stopping emissions from the airport. Robbie stated that attempts had been made to engage and meet with local government and challenge the expansion plans through formal routes but they had been ‘fobbed off’. A strong argument was also presented by Dave who successfully challenged the prosecution’s assertion that climate change is still a spilt debate.
Into the afternoon the first expert witness, Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, was called as part of the defence.

He summed up what campaigners have been saying for years as he questioned “why is it fair that aviation continues to be a special case while every other sector has to reduce their emissions?”.
He then went on to say “every year we have an exponential increase in CO2 embedding us in a future of dangerous climate change. If aviation continues to grow that means we're heading for 4 degrees, but that would only be a transient temperature on the way to an equilibrium rise of 6 to 8 degrees. A rise of 4 degrees is dire, above that it gets worse and worse- it is a future that we contemplate at our own peril.”.

The second witness, Dr Geoff Meaden, was also called to the stand related the actions to both local and international concerns. He spoke about the ‘tipping points’ we are reaching with global temperature rises as well as the increased possibility of flooding in the Manchester area due to changes in weather patterns, and specifically how the airport itself would be submerge by just a two metre flood.

At the end of day one the defendants, campaign and court can be under no illusion that we need to start waking up to the fact that climate change isn’t just a problem for future generations; we are seeing its devastating impacts now. The aviation industry is receiving special treatment in terms of the expansion that is being allowed and financially in the tax break of £9 billion each year it is given, including paying nothing on fuel, while public sectors are cut and the VAT we pay on toilet roll increases to 20%.

The actions of the Manchester defendants are an example of how we might be able to see real change; signing petitions just isn’t enough anymore. We need to start targeting the industries and corporations who are not only dodging tax whilst public sectors are cut, but also continue exploiting our planet.
Tomorrow the defence will continue with the court hearing from local councillor Martin Eakins, who will speak on the democratic deficit in the region, and local resident Pete Johnson speaking about the barriers to pursuing a judicial review against the expansion due to the prohibitively high costs involved.
Come and support the defendants tomorrow or Wednesday morning at 9am at Trafford Magistrate’s Court, Manchester, or send your statements of support to

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Runway campaigners to re-unite

Environmental activists who occupied tree-houses and barricaded themselves in underground tunnels during the long running protests against the construction of the second runway at Manchester Airport will be re-united at a public event this Thursday 17 February commemorating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the runway in February 2001.

(Original article from the Manchester Mule)

Hosted by activists from Manchester Climate Action and People and Planet, the evening will see veteran activists from around across the country return to Manchester for an event including a photo and video exhibition from the protest camps, displayed at the University of Manchester Students Union.

Merrick Godhaven, 41, who now lives in Leeds explained why he was returning for the event, "There's a radical history of resistance to power, and that history will never be taught in schools. We have to make the effort to make this people's history live, and see that one generation can take inspiration and practical ideas from what has gone before. The present campaign against Manchester Airport is also a source of inspiration to me. Seeing the new generation of activists team up and share ideas with the older one makes us all stronger and more likely to succeed."

Lance Crookes, who was also involved at the time, and who now lives in Northenden said, "Manchester's council leaders were very vocal when they promised that 50,000 new jobs would be created as a result of the 2nd runway but there has been silence since it opened in 2001."

MULE contacted Manchester Airport for a response on the question of job creation, however they declined to respond.

Simon Bradley, 22, from Manchester People and Planet, “The event not only looks at the rich heritage of environmental activism in Manchester, but also provides a valuable opportunity for today's generation of activists to meet those who were campaigning on the same issues a decade ago. With the airport still at the top of the environmental agenda in Manchester, swapping stories and experiences can help us raise awareness and challenge the Airport's dangerous expansion plans."

The event is being organised in the run up to the trial of six climate activists who breached airside security at Manchester Airport last May – temporarily shutting the airport down. The four day trial begins on Monday 21st February at Trafford Magistrates Court. The defendants are charged with aggravated trespass and will plead not guilty.

"Site Battles: Second Runway at Manchester Airport” will take place on Thursday 17th February at 7.30pm at the University of Manchester Students Union. The event is free and open to members of the public.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Co-operative Bank; good with money or fantastic for aviation?

From the Mule - 7th January 2010

Environmental activists have been angered by the news that the Cooperative Bank has taken part in a refinancing deal for the development of Manchester Airport. The bank will provide £40 million over the next 5 years to Manchester Airports Group despite its much-vaunted ‘Ethical Investments Policy’ which includes mitigating the threat of climate change as a central tenet.
The Bank’s policy states, “We will not finance any business whose core activity contributes to global climate change, via the extraction or production of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), with an extension to the distribution of those fuels that have a higher global warming impact (e.g. tar sands and certain biofuels).”
Zoe Creighton-Hird from Manchester Climate Action said, “If their ethical policy states that they won’t finance businesses that contribute towards climate change via fossil fuels then why do they finance businesses that do the same via emissions from aviation? It’s another case of aviation being ignored as a massive contributor to climate change and goes to show that the Coop’s environmental image is an illusion, if they are willing to invest millions into the fastest growing cause of carbon dioxide emissions.”
Manchester Airport is currently responsible for around 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, making it one of the biggest polluters in the North West. It plans to demolish local homes to expands its operations, with the intention of doubling passenger numbers by 2030.
The Coop Travel arm of the business states the following on its website, ”We were the only travel agent to oppose the development of a third runway at Heathrow and we oppose the development of runways throughout the UK unless there is a clear sustainability case.”
The Cooperative Bank’s brand is based heavily its environmental credentials, in particular for its recent active role in opposing the tar sands project in Canada. While its ethical code is widely regarded as being at the forefront of conscientious banking, this move raises serious questions over the bank’s policies.
When contacted by the MULE, a spokesperson for the Cooperative Bank said, “The Bank’s Ethical Policy is based on consultation with our customers and reflects their ethical concerns.”
“Whilst we acknowledge that the climate change impact of various forms of transport are a concern to some people our Policy does not contain an explicit statement excluding finance for air travel related business.”
“We are, however, arguably one of the UK’s leading businesses in tackling climate change, through, for instance, our refusal to invest in fossil fuel extraction and production, procuring virtually all our energy supply from renewable sources and our, as part of our Toxic Fuels campaign with our customers and members seeking to halt the increasing trend towards exploiting fuels with a higher global warming potential such as tar sands.”
The finance deal with Manchester Airport Group totalled £280 million, with six other banks – Barclays, Handelsbanken, RBS, HSBC, National Australia Bank (through its subsidiary Yorkshire Bank) and Santander – providing £40 million each over a five year period.