Airport runway objectors take protest to parliament's roof

By staff writers
February 27, 2008

Protesters from the campaigning group Plane Stupid have today mounted a hight profile protest against the proposed Heathrow third runway by waving banners from the roof the the parliament building, in a major breach of security.

One of their banners proclaimed "BAA HQ", referring to the British Airports Authority, which has led attempts to thwart massive public and environmental opposition to the plans for an airport expansion which demonstrators and local residents say will be "disastrous".

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said he disagreed with the form of the protest, which involved several campaigners sneaking past security and then taking a public lift to the roof, but he agreed with its message.

The protesters were entirely peaceful in their tactics, and chatted cordially with police officers sent to remove them.

Last week hundreds of people turned out at a public meeting to oppose the third runway plan. Thousands are sending in objections. They say alternatives have not been explored and the consultation exercise is a con.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded dismissively to the protest, saying that "decisions should be taken in the chamber of this building, not on its roof."

But demonstrators point out that from their point of view the government is being contemptuous towards mass objections to its air traffic policy, cutting short a public consultation - which ends today.

"It's no good the PM piously opposing direct action protest when he heads up an administration that pays far more attention to corporate and business interests, from which the Labour Party now receives millions of pounds, while they are not prepared to look properly at how all this impacts ordinary people and the environment," a protester told Ekklesia.

She added: "We are on the roof because it is often impossible to get our views adequately attended to in a chamber which is not about 'one person one vote', but one company millions of votes. This is not proper democratic procedure."

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