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Groups Stage “Die-in” at London Airports to Protest Expansion Plans

Groups Stage “Die-in” at London Airports to Protest Expansion Plans
Jeff Edwards

Protesters rode bicycles to London’s busiest airports where demonstrations against the environmental impact of aviation turned at least one ticket area into an odd performance art piece.

They arrived on bicycles, wearing matching red outfits, white face masks and holding picket signs that read “Stop Airport Expansion” and “Stay Grounded – No New Runways.” Dozens of the protesters then took over a swath of Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), silently playing dead on the ground in opposition to the potential environmental damaged caused by soon-to-be-finalized runway expansion plans. A similar rally took place at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) which still remains a long-shot candidate for receiving the additional runway that is expected to be awarded to LHR by regulators in the coming weeks.

The protests and acts of civil disobedience on Saturday reportedly remained peaceful. Although the “die-in” staged at Terminal 3 caught the attention of passengers, some of whom had to step over protesters on the way to their gates, officials say the disruption did not cause any significant delays at either of London’s two busiest airports.

“The peaceful demonstration that took place at Heathrow earlier today involved a small group of people, and the airport operated as normal throughout,” a spokesperson for LHR told the Daily Mail. ”Check-in and security were not affected. Heathrow expansion is not a choice between delivering for the economy and protecting the environment – we can do both.”

Officials at LGW said a similar rally there caused only minor inconveniences for travelers. An LGW spokesperson told reporters that the protesters seemed confused about the details of the potential runway expansion plans.

“There were a very small number of people – around fifteen, who were sat on the floor on the south terminal of arrivals,” the airport spokesperson told reporters. “Some of them were holding placards saying ‘no third runway’ but this is Heathrow’s position, not Gatwick’s, as we are beginning to build a second runway. They were there for around an hour and a half but there was no disruption to passengers. They were a small group in a large space.”

The coordinated protests were organized by the social justice group Reclaim the Power. “Expanding airports is completely irresponsible and will bring us out of reach of our own targets to stop climate change,” Reclaim the Power spokesperson Maya Adams said of the protest. “This problem isn’t being caused by business or normal families taking a holiday, but a wealthy elite ‘binge flying’, often to second homes. Yet it’s poorer countries that are the hardest hit by climate change, even though they have done the least to cause the problem. Expanding Heathrow is incompatible with creating a fairer and more equal world.”

The government of newly installed UK Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to make a final ruling on the scope and location of the controversial London Airport expansion by the end of the year.

[Photo: Reuters]

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1 Comment

  1. strickerj

    October 5, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Props to them for keeping it peaceful (and , but the premise behind this protest seems detached from reality – travel will continue with or without the new runways; the latter will just force traffic delays and ultimately reduce efficiency and therefore increase fuel consumption and emissions.

    Furthermore, I’d like to see any evidence that the problem is caused by “wealthy elites binge flying” – I’d wager that accounts for a negligible amount of seat-miles flown.

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