Hunger strikers call on MPs to vote against Heathrow expansion

By agency reporter
June 13, 2018

Vote No Heathrow is a pop up campaign set up by local community campaigners and environmental activists, which is aiming to persuade the Labour party through a campaign of direct actions to vote against the proposed third runway.

The group started a hunger strike on 9 June 2018, calling specifically on Labour MPs and the trade union Unite to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. A group of 35 people gathered with banners and placards to sit quietly outside party and union buildings, urging opposition to a new runway.

One of the hunger strikers is Richard Barnard, a member of the Catholic Worker movement and of Kent Christian Peace Activists.

Placards reading 'Hunger Strike'and 'Vote No Heathrow' were carried, and some were wearing T-shirts reading 'No New Runways' and 'Love Labour: Hate Heathrow'.

Some of the campaigners are pledging to continue their hunger strike until MPs agree to vote against Heathrow expansion. The group is also appealing to SNP MPs, saying "The Labour and Scottish National Parties believe in justice, equality and fairness. Given the new cold hard facts on climate breakdown – and the coming catastrophe for our communities and society – why are progressive parties allowing their MPs to support a massive carbon infrastructure in the form of a third runway at Heathrow in the upcoming parliamentary vote on the matter?

"Where is the justice in maintaining that we can continue emitting carbon which will destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in the global south – while the well-off in the global north continue business as usual? Where is the fairness in imposing an airport expansion which will make West London one of the most polluted and noisiest places in Europe?"

A parliamentary vote on the National Policy Statement on Aviation, which advocates Heathrow expansion, is expected this month. 

Alex Thompson, a spokesperson for Vote No Heathrow, said: “A new runway will accelerate catastrophic climate breakdown killing millions around the world. Those who stand to gain from the new runway are limited to a wealthy minority of frequent flyers; the rest will suffer a devastated climate, bulldozed local homes and even more toxic air. All progressive MPs must oppose expansion of Heathrow.

“We are calling on MPs and influential unions like Unite to look at the bigger picture: climate breakdown is being driven by wealthy people, who fly, and the impacts are hitting poorer people first and worst, who do not fly. We want a stable planet with stable work, not a broken planet with insecure work; that starts with opposing Heathrow expansion.”

Hunger striker Robin said: “We are taking this drastic action because this month there is a ‘make or break’ vote on Heathrow in Parliament. Everyone needs to tell their MP to vote against this disastrous project. The new runway will accelerate global warming as climate breakdown gets catastrophic and bulldoze hundreds of homes during a UK housing crisis.”

The group says "Heathrow is already the Britain’s single largest generator of carbon dioxide, the main contributor to global warming. A third runway would generate around nine million additional tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This would result in Heathrow generating about 30 million tonnes – exceeding the entire output of countries such as Portugal or Chile.

"The third runway has been strongly resisted by local communities and environmental groups for over a decade. The reasons include the immense harm it would cause to the local area in terms of noise, air pollution and community destruction and the global climate.

"Heathrow expansion is not just another issue but a defining test of what it means to be progressive and environmentally sane in the Twenty First Century."

* Vote No Heathrow  https://www.facebook.com/votenoheathro/

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