Saturday, September 30, 2006

Protesters occupy runway at East Midlands Airport

At 07:55am on 24 September, 2006, a group of protesters 'breached security' at the East Midlands Airport and occupied one of the operational taxi-runways. The 21 activists from Plane Stupid said they "wanted to see airport expansion plans scrapped, a tax on aviation fuel and plane tickets, and an end to short haul flights."

The method of the occupation was chaining themselves to each other, having set up tents saying 'Climate Camp 2'. Baptist minister Malcolm Carroll, led a memorial service for the victims of the effects of climate change. Spokesman of the group, Joss Garman, said: "an estimated 150.000 people die of the effects of climate change each year. That's the equivelant of a 9-11 every week."

At midday, armed police, dog units, firebrigade and helicopter arrived and cleared the runway. 24 people were arrested for 'suspected offences under the Aviation Security Act'. Contrary to what the BBC reported, some flights leaving the airport were delayed.

The activists were held for 36 hours whilst their homes were searched and a great deal of trivial artifacts were taken as evidence. Some of this evidence included people's personal phones, cash cards, rail tickets and it is not clear how or when they can get any of this stuff back. It was reported that some of the police searches failed to leave the receipt of what had been taken in the absence of the occupiers, making it difficult to know what is needed back.

All activists were charged with Trespass, Public Nuisance and Entering a Restriced Area (Aviation Security Act 1982).

A Sky cameraman who attended action was also arrested and his footage temporarily confiscated. The protest, including pictures filmed by Sky's cameraman, was later used in Sky News bulletins from 1200 onwards on 24th September. This included pictures filmed by our cameraman.This is perhaps one of the reasons why Plane Stupid got so little mainstream media coverage. In total, there were four hours of occupation, with two and a half of them spent with only three police officers present. Security at EMA was embarrassingly bad. Activists report that "it had seemed like a very scary thing to do beforehand but was in fact surprisingly easy".

More from Climate IMC International

editor: updated 9/10/06 to include Sky News coverage of protest.

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