Eco-campaigners in tents have arrived two days earlier than expected on the outskirts of Heathrow Airport signalling the start of a week long campaign to protest against plans to expand the airport.
In addition to the climate change protestors, local residents who are likely to be adversely affected by the proposed increase in air traffic are also joining the group.
The protestors aim to disrupt BAA’s activities but claim that they are not there to delay flights and disrupt people’s holidays. Organisers of the so called Camp for Climate Change insist that the protests will be peaceful, however, despite this there is likely to be a significant Police presence to oversee the event.
Last week, BAA won a High Court ruling banning certain protesters from Heathrow and has warned against protests which could be a dangerous distraction at a time of heightened security fears.
However, the injunction did not prevent the camp from going ahead and a day of direct action is planned for Sunday.
The protestors have a valid point, at a time when the link between man’s activities and global warming is thought by many to be beyond doubt, and when Governments from across the globe agree that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced, it is a huge contradiction to allow the ongoing expansion of airports and increased air travel.
In my view reducing emissions from travel is going to be hard nut to crack. Emissions from our homes and work places are a comparatively easy problem to solve and I can see that as technology improves and reduces in cost that gradually the carbon footprint of our buildings will be reduced. Travel, however, needs more of a change in mindset ; people like travelling. Alternatives do exist with the improvement of video conferencing and better communications and the like. That said some form of air travel is always likely to be with us, the thing is we need to realise that it must be kept to a minimum.
I hope that the protestors have some success in changing attitudes of both BAA and to some extent passengers. I just hope that they do it responsibly and lawfully.