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Rising up against Heathrow expansion

Climate change activists took their fight against airport expansion to the heart of the battleground this week, blocking road access to Heathrow Airport.

Protesters from direct action group Rising Up put their own bodies in the way of traffic bound for Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3, in protest against the UK government’s plans to build another runway.

Chained to a car draped with a banner saying ‘No new runways,’ they said they were acting in solidarity with those worst affected by the plans.

After causing hours of delay for traffic, some of the protesters were arrested.

Local resident Neil Keveren said: “The government’s U-turn on the third runway shows democracy has failed us. But it doesn’t matter what Theresa May says, we won’t give up, we’ll keep fighting to protect our homes. There will be no third runway.”

Rising Up has a history of impactful protests, with some of the group’s activists charged and later given conditional discharges for 'wilful obstruction of the highway' at the end of 2016.

One of those activists was Simon Bramwell, who was also involved in this week’s demonstration.

Despite court conditions, he felt strongly about the need to take action: "I am breaking conditions imposed on me by the courts, following road blockades in November, but the government is not listening to the science or to our concerns. They have left us with no alternative but to keep taking action. We will not stop until plans to build another runway are fully and finally shut down.”

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow were approved by the UK government in October 2016, and a public consultation is now open.

The Rising Up member said that the blockade is their contribution to the consultation: “A third runway is a disastrous option that will lead to climate chaos.”

Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are currently responsible for 4.9% of global warming, with aviation emissions also predicted to grow 300% by 2050. As part of the Climate Change Act, the UK has committed that by 2050, it will cut emissions by 80% compared to the level they were at in 1990.

A report from A Free Ride, a fair flying campaign group, states that the aviation emissions target is due to be missed, even without an airport expansion.

Photo courtesy of Kristian Buus.

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