Aviation industry takes five million people to court

Posted by bex — 26 July 2007 at 5:15pm - Comments

Planes on the runway

Update - 1st August: The hearing is underway.


Here's a doozy for you: on Wednesday, the aviation industry is taking five million people - including a lot of their own staff - to court. If you're a member or supporter of a group that's concerned about climate change, the chances are you're a defendant too.

The industry seems to want to ban five million of us from Heathrow and all routes to the airport, including the Piccadilly line, parts of the rail network, and sections of the M25 and M4.

In three weeks' time, the Camp for Climate Action is due to gather near Heathrow to peacefully protest against Heathrow's vast contribution to climate change (the airport's planes emit more greenhouse gases than many individual countries) and its planned runway expansion.

The owner of Heathrow, the British Airports Authority (BAA), seems to be, frankly, terrified.

It's seeking an injunction, which names as defendants "all persons acting as members, participants or supporters" of anti-aviation group Plane Stupid, anti-noise group HACAN and AirportWatch. The injunction is to stop people from setting foot on Heathrow and "the arterial infrastructure serving" it.

So far, so good. Just another example of the aviation industry's corporate bullying, albeit a draconian one.

But the interesting bit is that AirportWatch, named on the injunction, is just an umbrella organisation. Its member organisations include the National Trust, the RSPB, the Woodland Trust, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, among many others.

The combined supporter base of these organisations is well over five million people.

And it includes the Queen, patron of the RSBP and CPRE. Prince Charles, president of the National Trust, would also be banned from Heathrow and its surrounds - as would Imran Khan and Shane Warne, who recently fund-raised for HACAN.

Even more bizarrely, the injunction covers many of BAA's own staff. Their 2006 Corporate Responsibility report (pdf) tells us that BAA sent its airport staff to the RSPB nature reserve at Lochwinnoch "where they spent the day building nest boxes for the native bird population". Which seems to me to fit the description of "persons acting as members, participants or supporters".

When we got the news, after sitting around open-mouthed for a bit, we suspected that BAA didn't know who or what AirportWatch was; they'd panicked, we thought. Hadn't done their research.

But 'a source' who's spoken to BAA has just told us that BAA is deliberately making the ban as broad as possible, and leaving it up to the police to apply it with common sense. Which means, if BAA wins, the police will have the right to stop you, me or Her Maj from, say, getting on "all railway trains and carriages operating upon the Piccadilly line"...

I've been trying to get hold of an electronic copy of the injunction for all the defendants out there but I've had no luck so far (the version delivered was so large it filled four ring-binders). If I manage, I'll post it here.

Take action!

If you're not one of the defendants and are feeling a bit left out, feel free to show a bit of solidarity; just sign up to a green organisation of your choice. If we can get another five million people banned from Heathrow, BAA might find it doesn't need its third runway after all... In fact, they could solve all their problems of lost luggage, queues and general chaos while they're at it.

Bans of peaceful protests, it seems to me, have always characterised totalitarian social systems and I am shocked almost to the point of disbelief, that BAA would consider to so dangerously infringe on the democracy in the UK. It will be my hope that the High Court will dismiss their case as rubbish. I wish AirportWatch & Greenpeace every success. I think what you are doing is wonderful.

Igor

I just hope the case is widely reported, however it ends. do we know when a ruling is expected?

Thanks Igor (the civil liberties group Liberty agrees with you by the way...)

Cliff, the hearing's tomorrow (Weds) and I'm assuming we'll get the ruling on the same day. I'll keep you posted.

Sorry, I was wrong about the dates. The hearing's now expected to go on until Friday. More here.

Unbelieveable. I now cannot go near the airport. not that i was planning that anyway. time to contact BA by phone and ask them politely if I can still fly or use the M4:

http://www.baa.com/portal/page/.../

Not quite, and it did seem at first that they had managed to get what they wanted. But what the actual injunction says is a far, far cry from the all-encompassing ruling they were after...

web editor
gpuk

You have not given any alternatives to what you were actually campaigning about so what was the point of it.
Green Campaign Bullying at it's worst.

You're right, we haven't been great promoting alternatives up until now and that should change, but off the top of my head I'd say improved public transport and improvements to the rail network in this country plus tax breaks for the rail companies to bring ticket prices down. An integrated booking system for European railways wouldn't go amiss either.

web editor
gpuk

Jamie, again it looks like you have replied to my comments.
This is the whole point of it all. You cannot just campaign against something without suggesting alternatives, it does make you look like you are bullying other people into doing what you want them to do.
You are right though that we do need improvements to the rail network in this country, and it is fairly easy to work out what it is. Strangley enough I took about 5 minutes to work it out as I supsect many other people have but it would appear that a report has been produced by Greengauge 21 which basically mirrors what a lot of people already realise. New build of the West Coast Mainliine for fast trains to the north, this woul dleave the old West Coast Mainline for slower traffic and would enable a big increase in freight traffic, this would get the lorries off the roads. Th enew fast line north would or should dramatically cut the amount of domestic flights from Heathrow and the like. Four tracking of the East Coast Mainline to increase the amount of trains on the line, again there would be an increase of freight traffic and another dramatic cut in domestic flights. I believe that plans are already afoot to alleviate some of the bottlenecks on the ECML. All this would of course cost billions to do, the upgrade to the WCML cost an awful lot of money as it was.
For a country of this size there really should be no reason for domestic flights, I can probably drive to Manchester quicker than I could fly there. www.greengauge21.net is the place to look.
The point is though that the climatecamp at heathrow just made the campaigners look silly, that is a personal view and it may well have done more harm than good being as there were no alternatives offered, also as the Greengauge 21 report was made in November of last year it does suggest that somebody has not done their homework and the climat camp, I feel should have been pushing for the rail improvements before campaigning against the flights from heathrow. You are not gonna stop those flights unless there is an alternative to them.

Hi again Gandalf :-)

We're working on it! There was an interesting discussion on whether we (Greenpeace) are doing enough to promote alternatives to aviation here a few months back. My colleague Tracy wrote:

We often focus on the problem first, and leave the solutions to others, perhaps those in power, but it is clear that we need to offer a creditable and viable solution because our leaders aren’t leading. But with you and others pointing out the need for serious thinking and campaigning for the solutions I hope that will change.

I think we have done this successfully with our work on decentralised energy. But aviation is a brand new area of work for us and as I can see from all of the thoughtful and really helpful comments here, we still have some work to do before we’ve gotten the balance of fighting the problem and championing the solution right. While it is true we desperately need to cap the growth in air transport which is the fastest growing sector in terms of emissions, you’re right people do need an easy and affordable alternative if we are going to make a difference for the climate.

I will take your comments back to our planning teams and make sure that whenever we say that one thing should stop, we have a real alternative that will help us halt the worst effects of climate change. And hopefully you will see more on that here in the not too distant future.

Since then, we've started work laying down our position on what a truly sustainable (and integrated) public transport system for the UK looks like - you'll have to bear with us for a wee while on that but there'll be more soon.

I don't agree with your views on climate camp though - it seemed pretty clear to me that the camp had nothing to do with bullying or disrupting passengers and everything to do with inspiring ordinary people to stand up for a better world and raising awareness, as well as exposing the aviation industry's reckless attitude to climate change. At the camp itself, there was a lot of emphasis on exploring solutions to climate change - with workshops and by living sustainably while at the camp.

Anyway, cheers for your thoughts on Greenguage 21 and the ECML - I've passed them onto our transport team.

Bex
gpuk

Do their lawyers not have much to do that they're attempting to ban all 5 million of us? I wish I could file a counterclaim to this form of corporate bullying. If the courts do let them have their way, I doubt that the police can implement it.

Bans of peaceful protests, it seems to me, have always characterised totalitarian social systems and I am shocked almost to the point of disbelief, that BAA would consider to so dangerously infringe on the democracy in the UK. It will be my hope that the High Court will dismiss their case as rubbish. I wish AirportWatch & Greenpeace every success. I think what you are doing is wonderful. Igor

I just hope the case is widely reported, however it ends. do we know when a ruling is expected?

Thanks Igor (the civil liberties group Liberty agrees with you by the way...) Cliff, the hearing's tomorrow (Weds) and I'm assuming we'll get the ruling on the same day. I'll keep you posted.

Sorry, I was wrong about the dates. The hearing's now expected to go on until Friday. More here.

Unbelieveable. I now cannot go near the airport. not that i was planning that anyway. time to contact BA by phone and ask them politely if I can still fly or use the M4: http://www.baa.com/portal/page/.../

Not quite, and it did seem at first that they had managed to get what they wanted. But what the actual injunction says is a far, far cry from the all-encompassing ruling they were after... web editor gpuk

You have not given any alternatives to what you were actually campaigning about so what was the point of it. Green Campaign Bullying at it's worst.

You're right, we haven't been great promoting alternatives up until now and that should change, but off the top of my head I'd say improved public transport and improvements to the rail network in this country plus tax breaks for the rail companies to bring ticket prices down. An integrated booking system for European railways wouldn't go amiss either. web editor gpuk

Jamie, again it looks like you have replied to my comments. This is the whole point of it all. You cannot just campaign against something without suggesting alternatives, it does make you look like you are bullying other people into doing what you want them to do. You are right though that we do need improvements to the rail network in this country, and it is fairly easy to work out what it is. Strangley enough I took about 5 minutes to work it out as I supsect many other people have but it would appear that a report has been produced by Greengauge 21 which basically mirrors what a lot of people already realise. New build of the West Coast Mainliine for fast trains to the north, this woul dleave the old West Coast Mainline for slower traffic and would enable a big increase in freight traffic, this would get the lorries off the roads. Th enew fast line north would or should dramatically cut the amount of domestic flights from Heathrow and the like. Four tracking of the East Coast Mainline to increase the amount of trains on the line, again there would be an increase of freight traffic and another dramatic cut in domestic flights. I believe that plans are already afoot to alleviate some of the bottlenecks on the ECML. All this would of course cost billions to do, the upgrade to the WCML cost an awful lot of money as it was. For a country of this size there really should be no reason for domestic flights, I can probably drive to Manchester quicker than I could fly there. www.greengauge21.net is the place to look. The point is though that the climatecamp at heathrow just made the campaigners look silly, that is a personal view and it may well have done more harm than good being as there were no alternatives offered, also as the Greengauge 21 report was made in November of last year it does suggest that somebody has not done their homework and the climat camp, I feel should have been pushing for the rail improvements before campaigning against the flights from heathrow. You are not gonna stop those flights unless there is an alternative to them.

Hi again Gandalf :-) We're working on it! There was an interesting discussion on whether we (Greenpeace) are doing enough to promote alternatives to aviation here a few months back. My colleague Tracy wrote: We often focus on the problem first, and leave the solutions to others, perhaps those in power, but it is clear that we need to offer a creditable and viable solution because our leaders aren’t leading. But with you and others pointing out the need for serious thinking and campaigning for the solutions I hope that will change. I think we have done this successfully with our work on decentralised energy. But aviation is a brand new area of work for us and as I can see from all of the thoughtful and really helpful comments here, we still have some work to do before we’ve gotten the balance of fighting the problem and championing the solution right. While it is true we desperately need to cap the growth in air transport which is the fastest growing sector in terms of emissions, you’re right people do need an easy and affordable alternative if we are going to make a difference for the climate. I will take your comments back to our planning teams and make sure that whenever we say that one thing should stop, we have a real alternative that will help us halt the worst effects of climate change. And hopefully you will see more on that here in the not too distant future. Since then, we've started work laying down our position on what a truly sustainable (and integrated) public transport system for the UK looks like - you'll have to bear with us for a wee while on that but there'll be more soon. I don't agree with your views on climate camp though - it seemed pretty clear to me that the camp had nothing to do with bullying or disrupting passengers and everything to do with inspiring ordinary people to stand up for a better world and raising awareness, as well as exposing the aviation industry's reckless attitude to climate change. At the camp itself, there was a lot of emphasis on exploring solutions to climate change - with workshops and by living sustainably while at the camp. Anyway, cheers for your thoughts on Greenguage 21 and the ECML - I've passed them onto our transport team. Bex gpuk

Do their lawyers not have much to do that they're attempting to ban all 5 million of us? I wish I could file a counterclaim to this form of corporate bullying. If the courts do let them have their way, I doubt that the police can implement it.

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