Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Actors stage third runway protest

Alison Steadman and Richard Briers
Alison Steadman and Richard Briers munch a Cox's apple at Heathrow

Actors, politicians and the country's leading poet planted an orchard on the site of the proposed third Heathrow runway during a protest on Friday.

Actors Alison Steadman and Richard Briers, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy joined residents and activists.

Greenpeace bought the site last year and 60,000 people own a stake in it.

They planted Cox's apples in memory of Richard Cox, who introduced them to the area and is buried on the site.

Groups including Greenpeace, the Woodland Trust, the RSPB and World Development Movement were represented on the site, which is the size of a football field.

Ms Steadman said she thought the orchard was a brilliant idea - and that plans to have bees on the site would ensure the land produced "Heathrow honey instead of Heathrow runways".

Ms Steadman, who read a poem which refers to the village of Sipson by the Ms Duffy, said: "I'm here to campaign to say 'definitely no' to a third runway."

Sipson in 1946 (courtesy of Philip Sherwood)
Sipson has co-existed with the airport for more than 60 years

She warned the whole area around Sipson would be "completely obliterated" by the expansion of the airport.

"If we're going to cut down and meet our targets on carbon emissions, I don't see how on earth we're going to do that if we build the runway," she said.

"The British Airports Authority and the government now know that if they try to build this new runway they will have to dig up trees owned by and on behalf of millions of people from every area of British society.

"Some of those people will be there to stand in front of the bulldozers if they ever roll into the new orchard. The third runway cannot and will not be built."

The government gave the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow in January, saying it is "right" for the UK, but opponents have vowed to fight it.

Opponents of the scheme say transport infrastructure around Heathrow already struggles and the extra demands would create gridlock.

They say that to make way for the runway, Sipson - a village of 700 houses - would be demolished and hundreds of acres of greenbelt land would be swallowed up.

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