Manchester Airport on Trial

Tagged as: airport environmentalism manchester plane stupid
Neighbourhoods: manchester

Manchester Airport on Trial  – case 2 begins Monday 21st February 2011 

Show of support outside court: Meet at 9am outsideTraffford Magistrates' Court, Ashton Lane, Sale, M33 7NR

In May 2010, seventeen people took direct action at Manchester Airport, temporarily shutting it down.  They did this to stop some of the 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions that the airport is responsible for annually and in opposition to plans to destroy family homes and biodiversity spots to expand the World Freight Centre.  The 'Manchester Airport on Trial' campaign is being run to support the activists during their court case and to continue to oppose the airport's plans to become the 'Heathrow of the North' by 2050.  Six defendants are pleading not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass.  They will argue that their actions were necessary to prevent emissions and will call expert witnesses to examine the impacts of aviation and climate change both locally and in terms of public health.  The defendants will state that their actions were further justified given the failings and corruption of the decision-making processes at a Parliamentary and local authority level. 

 

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Subsidised airport expansion at a time of massive cuts.

At at time of massive public spending cuts, the aviation industry continues to receive £9 billion a year of tax breaks whilst actively churning out emissions.   As the public face VAT rises, the aviation industry enjoys a free ride by paying no tax on its aircraft fuel.  The airport continually overstate their economic importance to the region, ignoring the fact that there is a £2 billion tourism deficit in the North West – taking money out of the region.  Not only is Manchester Airport costing us jobs and money, its plan to become the ‘Heathrow of the North’ threatens all our futures with rising CO2 levels.  You can show your opposition to the Airport's expansion plans, as well as supporting the defendants in court by coming down to the trial.

Airside incursion

On 24th May 2010, six people formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet at Manchester Airport.  They locked their arms together and refused to leave - eventually requiring them to be cut out by the police.  At the same time, eleven people blockaded the road entrance to the World Freight Centre by erecting two tripods across the the road with a banner that read, "MORE FREIGHT = MORE CLIMATE CHANGE. STOP ALL AIRPORT EXPANSION NOW." 

The Court Cases...

Trial 1 - The eleven people who blocked the road stood trial at Trafford Magistrates Court on 6th December 2010.  Most pleaded guilty and received fines. Two protesters, Mark Haworth and Amanda Walters pleaded not guilty on the grounds that the expansion of the World Freight Centre would lead to the demolition of local homes and biodiversity spots and would create a significant increase in flight emissions. Furthermore, other legal means of opposing the Airport through the local Council had been exhausted and they had shown themselves to be unable to otherwise address the problems caused by airport expansion. The witness statements of local residents and a local councillor were both read out in court to support the protesters' case. Despite being found guilty, the defendants vowed to keep up the fight against expansion plans.  Click here for a report of what happened in court. 

Trial 2 - begins Monday 21st February 2011 - The six protesters who went airside will answer charges of aggravated trespass at Trafford Magistrates Court.  They will plead not guilty using a defence of necessity - that they acted to prevent CO2 emissions to stop death and serious injury caused by climate change.   This will involve calling expert witnesses to court to provide evidence on the climate science and impacts of aviation.  Expert witness statements have been provided by Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research - University of Manchester) on aviation and climate change, Dr Robin Stott on the health impacts of climate change, Dr Geoff Meaden on the impacts of climate change in the North West, John McDonnell MP on the failings of the parliamentary process to address the issue aviation and climate change, Councillor Martin Eakins on Manchester City Council's approach to rising emissions from Manchester Airport, representatives of the Aviation Environment Federation, John Stewart from Airportwatch and local Hasty Lane resident Peter Johnson.

 

The necessary action against the real criminals

Whether or not the defendants are found guilty or not, Manchester Airport on Trial represents an interesting case study for those wanting to highlight the limitations of the British judicial system in truly protecting our fundamental right to live in a clean and healthy environment. On the one hand, UK law protects the rights of major polluting industries such as aviation sector - but does not address the damage caused to people today from climate change or future generations and wildlife species. The legal defence of necessity in these criminal cases highlights this disconnect and poses the question , "Who are the real criminals?" - the defendants on trial? Or major polluting companies such as Manchester Airport? Could direct action initiatives start to bridge this gap in court?  This issue will be addressed by the Wild Law UK group at a pre-trial event 'Site Battles - the Second Runway at Manchester Airport' (Thursday 17th February). 

The trial is expected to last three to four days, beginning on Monday 21st February 2011.

Statements of Support  Statements are coming in from a variety of individuals, groups, organisations and individuals from across the North West and the UK.  You can read them here or send statement of support to manchesterairportontrial[at]gmail.com

How to find us

Trafford Magistrates' Court Ashton Lane Sale M33 7NR is in the centre of Sale situated on the corner of the A56 (Washway Road) and Ashton Lane.

 Tram: Take the Tram to Sale from central Manchester and turn left down School Road and through the precinct to Washway Road.

 Bike: Cycle along the canal tow path to Sale turn right down School Road and through the precinct to Washway Road and the court building is straight ahead.

 Bus: You can get the 263 Arriva bus from Picadilly

Details of the trial are on the website http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org/

Email Contact email: manchesterairportontrial[at]gmail.com