Transport minister pied for support of Heathrow expansion lobby

25.05.2005

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, was pied today at the launch event of a powerful new industry coalition, 'Future Heathrow', formed to ensure expansion of Heathrow goes ahead. Meanwhile over 100 local residents took time off work to demonstrate outside the CBI HQ launch event, with a huge banner reading 'Future Heathrow Stinks', and a new report that concludes that Heathrow contributes little to the national or local economy, but simply lines the pockets of the aviation industry. Future Heathrow is led by Clive Soley, once a Labour MP, now Lord Soley, now heading up this sleazy bunch of planet trashers with a multi-million pound budget to over ride the residents and the planet. Nobody expected the Secretary of State to make the phenomenally stupid mistake of so publicly siding with the aviation industry over such a controversial project. But he did, and was repaid with carrot cake, cream and major political embarrassment.

In the Future of Aviation White Paper of 2003, the Government paved the way for massive expansion of the aviation industry despite all the evidence that urgent action is needed on climate change. Transport is the single largest and fastest growing source of CO2 emissions, and the sector most in need of being tackled. Yet despite this, the Government is following a 'predict and provide' pattern of development, with more roadbuilding and aviation expansion. The expansion of Heathrow would mean more flights and CO2 emissions, and more noise and misery for residents already suffering under the flight paths. The number of flights has rapidly increased to an intolerable level, with night flights and noise particularly, making life hell. Air pollution levels are already at the legal limit, with insane proposals to put the M4 in a tunnel to allow the expansion to go ahead. Vibrant, feisty and passsionate campaigns have set up against the expansion called HACAN Clearskies,
 http://www.hacan.org.uk/
and NOTRAG (No Third Runway Action Group).
 http://www.notrag.org.uk/

Many homes are threatened by the third runway and sixth terminal expansion, and this proposal, and other plans to expand airports, will be fought against tooth and nail.

A climate change activist posing as a journalist managed to gain access to the high security 'Future Heathrow' event and, planted in the front row, waited her moment. She couldn't believe the audacity of the Transport Minister to stick his fingers up at the residents groups and environment lobby, and to so firmly side with the completely unsustainable aviation industry. As the first speaker welcomed all the suits to their exclusive little back slapping event, she sprang up and planted the carrot and cream cake firmly in the face of the Minister who was sat on the platform alongside Lord Soley, the CBI and the Chambers of Commerce. As she did so, she said "Future Heathrow stinks, your bogus economics stink, Alistair Darling being here stinks, and your vision for this planet stinks", and was then ejected by security guards. Fortunately she was not arrested, and after being held by the guards for a while was released. Unfortunately she only had one pair of hands, otherwise they would have also been doused in a powerfully smelly brew of comfrey and nettle plant feed she had in her bag!

One might assume that at such a high profile event, especially with the Secretary of State attending, that all the media would be there. In fact, Future Heathrow had not told the media that Darling was attending. They wanted to keep it quiet - it is a massive political boob - and they just wanted it as quiet endorsement. They weren't allowing in any journalists that had not pre-booked - even a BBC TV crew were turned away. The lone environmental activist only pulled off this meticulously planned feat by pre booking as a journalist herself and even so, had to negotiate triple security checks and was then briefed by BA's head of group affairs. He also kindly arranged a later interview for her with Clive Soley which she sadly had to miss! To have arranged for an independent photographer to be admitted would have alerted their suspicians. This is why, regrettably, there were no pictures. The group of mostly elderly protesting residents outside the event were totally elated and tremendously inspired by the direct action. They are now asking for training so that they can start their own direct action campaign.

The residents are furious that their previous MP Clive Soley, has been given a Labour peerage, and now Lord Soley heads up this powerful lobby group. All smells a bit nasty? When the 'journalist', tackled one of the heads of British Airways about how extraordinary it was that the Secretary of State would so obviously side with this new alliance, he agreed that he was surprised too, but added "well you know, Alistair and Clive are great friends"... By this act, Darling has revealed his true colours, and there is no doubt that he, and new Labour don't give a toss for the environment.

Even their own arguments - that Heathrow is vital to the economy of London, the South East and nationally - don't add up. A report, released today by HACAN Clearskies, proves that Heathrow, as a 'hub', relies on transit passengers who contribute nothing to the economy, only lining the pockets of the airlines.