21 Feb 2011
Climate trial hears Manchester airport protesters 'prevented death and serious injury'.
Just got this, I salute you companeros!
The trial of six climate protesters who breached airside security at Manchester Airport began today at Trafford Magistrates Court. The defendants will argue that they acted to prevent death and serious injury by stopping emissions from the airport, a plea which echoes the defence of Greenpeace campaigners acquitted of closing down Kingsnorth Power Station. During the trial, which is expected to last three to four days, the defence will call expert witnesses including Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre who is speaking today in court, and experts on health and the effects of climate change. 
The trial begins ten years after Manchester Airport opened their second runway in February 2001, following some of the largest environmental protests of the 1990's. The six defendants will plead not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass after they formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet last May 2010.
In November 2009 the airport received planning approval to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport, which will result in the demolition of local homes. Although the coalition government cancelled plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, campaigners are now focussing there action more regionally as capacity is now being increased at regional airports instead.
People from across North England have pledged to take direct action to stop the expansion plans. The threatened homes in Manchester have 'twinned' with the village of Sipson which would have been demolished to make way for the Heathrow expansion. Witnesses for the defence at the trial will include a local Lib Dem Councillor and John McDonnell, the Labour MP for the Heathrow area.
Supporters of the 'Manchester Airport on Trial' group gathered outside court this morning with a large paper aeroplane. The mock paper plane was made from a March 2010 High Court Ruling, stating that the airport expansion plans are incompatible with the Climate Act 2008. 
Kerry Williams, speaking outside court from the 'Manchester Airport on Trial' group said:
“ The trial started with a huge show of support showing that people aren't willing to be bullied by airports and government greed in the face of runaway climate change. It's not OK for the aviation industry to be a special case whilst avoiding paying taxes, creating more emissions and more noise. In an age of austerity we need to continue taking direct action to protect people, the climate and not the aviation industry. " 
Jo Rake, Heathrow resident and climate campaigner made the journey up to Manchester and said:
“By 2050 Manchester Airport plans to be as busy as Heathrow is today, becoming 'the Heathrow of the North' with flights every 70 seconds. We showed the success of people power to scrap the 3rd runway at Heathrow and so we can't let the flights be transferred to Manchester Airport instead. We cannot allow a climate catastrophe and the demolition of family homes at Hasty Lane. If we can win at Heathrow, we can win in Manchester too.”
The defendants have received a number of statements of support from national politicians, journalists, lawyers, organisations and individuals including Zac Goldsmith MP, Caroline Lucas MP and John Sauven, director of Greenpeace. 
Notes to Editors
 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.
 Relating to a judicial review brought by campaigners against the proposal to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport Lord Justice Carnwath stated, “"The [objectors'] submissions add up, in my view, to a powerful demonstration of the potential significance of developments in climate change policy since the 2003 white paper. They are clearly matters which will need to be taken into account under the new airports NPS [national policy statement]."
 The aviation industry pays no VAT on its aircraft or duty on its fuel - creating a tax subsidy of £10 billion per year. On Saturday 12th February protesters from 'Take VAT' held protest actions at Heathrow and Leeds Bradford Airports.
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