Azara Blog: Stansted Airport brought to a standstill by middle class protestors

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Date published: 2008/12/08

The BBC says:

Dozens of flights at Stansted airport have been delayed or cancelled after more than 50 protesters occupied a secure area near the runway.

Climate action group Plane Stupid said it started the protest at 0315 GMT by breaching security.

The runway was closed for about two hours, but reopened at 0810 GMT. Delays are continuing and passengers are being advised to contact their airlines.

Airport operator BAA said the protest was "unlawful". Police made 57 arrests.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said 50 people had been accused of aggravated trespass, three of attempting to gain access to a restricted area, and four of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

Ch Supt Ian Gruneberg told BBC News the demonstrators, who were chained together, were "committing a criminal act" and would be dealt with by the courts.
Nick Barton, BAA's commercial director at Stansted, told BBC Radio 4 he hoped the airport would be able to "recover quite well" from the impact of the protest, but delays were likely for the rest of the day.

He defended airport security and said staff had responded quickly.

"[The protesters] were unable to get to the runway, and a second wave of protest was stopped at the fence," he said.

"You should bear in mind, of course, that the runway's about 2,000 acres [8 sq km] in size - it is an enormous area - and we don't intend to run an airport as a fortress."

The BBC's Stephen Chittenden, at Stansted, said protesters had brought concrete blocks and 6ft-high security fencing with them and erected a "stockade" about 50m (164 ft) from the runway. They then chained themselves to the fencing.

One of the activists taking part, Lily Kember, 21, said they had forced their way in using bolt-cutters while the runway was closed for overnight maintenance work.

Ms Kember said she was "incredibly apologetic" that passengers had been affected, but added: "The effects of climate change are going to be monumental."

Plane Stupid said on its website that the action was intended to draw attention to CO2 emissions from the aviation industry.

One protester, whose full name was not given, said: "We're here because our parents' generation has failed us and it's now down to young people to stop climate change by whatever peaceful means we have left.

"We're afraid of what the police might do to us, we're afraid of going to jail but nothing scares us as much as the threat of runaway climate change."

Chief Superintendant Gruneberg might like to believe that the demonstrators "would be dealt with by the courts". The unnamed protestor might be "afraid of going to jail". But time and again, middle class protestors up and down the country have gotten away with their campaigns of intimidation and vandalism, so not just against airports but against GM crops, etc. The courts are run by the same middle class people, so they always let these criminals off.

And the BAA commercial director, Nick Barton, is taking the piss, when he says that "we don't intend to run an airport as a fortress". All airports in Britain are now run as fortresses. They have police outside the terminal building with big guns. If you even take a photo of the (beautiful) terminal building, you get questioned by them. But as elsewhere in life, the police seem incapable of dealing with the real, rather than imaginary, criminals.

The prize for utter hypocrisy goes to the "activist" Kember. She might claim to be "incredibly apologetic". Is she personally going to apologise to the thousands of people she inconvenienced? Indeed, this is the time of year for interviews for admission to Cambridge University, and no doubt some of the candidates would have come in through Stansted. It's quite possible that some could not make it to their interviews because of the actions of the silly spoiled middle class kids like Kember. And needless to say most of the people flying today were not doing so just for "fun", there was lots of inconvenience. Hopefully these "activists" (i.e. criminals) will be made to at least pay tens of thousands of pounds in compensation to all affected people (companies and passengers). But needless to say, that will never happen.

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