Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Camp For Climate Action

The above mentioned group pitched up at a site right next to Heathrow Airport a few days ago. There aren't that many of them there right now and they're probably outnumbered by Police officers. The reaction to the protest has been mixed and generally falls into two camps. Each of these camps are represented by the following quotes copied from the BBC's Have Your Say page:

- Perhaps if these soap dodging hippies worked for a living they would then understand why people need to go on holiday and therefore want to fly to a hot country.

- Yes I will take part. As an old crusty veteran of twyford Down and newbury, I should. Expansion of airports, when we know its bad for us and our future generations, is fatalistic idiocy.

My own office block will have its door shut this week with the combination lock on for the first time ever. When it was being tried out last week I asked my assistant boss what he was doing. He said it was because of "those fucking protester pricks". He's such an enlightened man.

There are police everywhere right now and BA and BAA's Head Offices are absolutely teeming with extra security staff. And why? Because a few people are camped a mile away. I've seen vanloads of Police in riot gear, all ready to face down the hordes of people who are, right now as I type, sitting down in a field having breakfast, maybe followed by a joint (that's if they managed to get any gear past the Police search that just about every single one of them has been subject to). Actually, that's a bit unfair. There will be some direct action later in the week where these extra Police might be needed. No-one knows what form this action will take but I'm dying to find out. Just so long as it doesn't involve getting onto the runways as that's when the protesters become terrorists and start getting shot through the head by marksmen using high-calibre rifles. It won't come to that though, of course. I reckon it will just involve a load of people sitting on a road somewhere and the odd person taking things a little too far and getting a beating for his or her troubles.

I'm not particularly comfortable with my own feelings about all this. I'm completely against the expansion of the airport but work for a company affiliated to a major airline and so am therefore compromising my morals somewhat. It seems common sense to me that the expansion shouldn't go ahead. We know that aircraft emissions are harmful to our already decaying atmosphere so it's wrong that these emissions should increase. Simple. My concerns are also parochial. In order for the expansion to go ahead a few villages will need to be flattened. This is where I grew up. One of the villages is home to a church that has stood for almost a thousand years, considerably longer than any of the business interests that have grown around it. Any one of the many people who approve of the planned expansion need to ask themselves whether they would accept this of their own area. Of course they wouldn't.

I should also state that I'm not someone who feels that airplanes and airlines and big business in general is the root of all that is wrong in the world today. There is, among the protesters, the naivete/ignorance that invariably accompanies righteous indignation. One protester is quoted as saying that she's glad the summer's weather has been terrible because now no-one can claim that we're not destroying the planet. I get her point but it's a point terribly made and it seems to me that having shit weather in the summer proves nothing other than the fact that we live in England. It's quotes such as this that make people like my assistant boss feel that they can spout the ignorant bullshit that they do.

Here's what I think: The airport has been a massive force for good in this area and for the whole country. It's very important for our commercial and leisure interests. It now it has a fantastic looking new terminal that puts the other four to shame. Let's just leave it at that, can we?

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