Seeking Alternate Significance in Imagery
27 February 2008
Wednesday 27th February 2008
Campaigners opposed to Heathrow expansion have scaled the roof of the Houses of Parliament and hung protest banners from the building before Prime Minister's Questions is due to begin.
The three men and two women from climate action group, Plane Stupid, opened an outside door before walking along the roof and dropping two banners. The non-violent direct action comes on the day a government consultation into Heathrow expansion ends. The protesters are making paper aeroplanes out of confidential Whitehall documents that reveal the process is fixed, and gliding the planes into the MPs' car park below.
The documents – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act - prove that airport operator BAA wrote parts of the consultation document and that the government has already decided to build a 3rd runway and 6th terminal at the world's biggest international airport.
Richard George, 27, from London is on the roof. He said:
"This Prime Minister doesn't even have the courage to ask Londoners the very simple question, do you want a third runway? Instead his government published a consultation document full of gobbledygook and industry spin. Now the consultation is over we can safely ignore the fixed result and get on with the job of stopping this new runway being built. A huge coalition of local residents, Londoners and environmentalists is coming together, supported by all the major mayoral candidates, to stand against Gordon Brown and say 'no more'."
BAA and Brown want to see a sixth terminal and third runway built over homes, schools and churches in the villages of Sipson and Harmondsworth. This would increase the number of flights from 480,000 a year to at least 702,000. Two million Londoners face increased levels of noise, while CO2 emissions from the airport would shoot up despite claims by Brown that he's committed to fighting climate change.
The rooftop occupation comes two days after Greenpeace protesters scaled an Airbus A320 which had just touched down at Heathrow from Manchester.
The protesters have branded Parliament 'BAA HQ' because of the extraordinary level of collusion between the aviation industry and government. Secret documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation reveal the existence of a previously unknown body called the 'Heathrow Delivery Group' – comprised of government and BAA officials. The group is charged with getting the new runway through the consultation process and neutralising 'risks' to the project such as Londoners who oppose Brown's aviation policy.