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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Demo plan divides airport campaigners
A line of police and protestors at Drax
Camp for Climate Action protested at Drax power station last year
The owner of Heathrow, BAA, wants to ban 15 campaign groups from taking part in an eight-day protest "camp" at the airport next month.

Top of its list are the organisers of the Camp for Climate Action itself, who are planning 24 hours of "direct action" against the airport - and its passengers - at one of the busiest times of the year.

Also included are 10 other groups such as the National Trust, the RSPB and the Woodland Trust.

They have been listed because of their membership of umbrella organisation, Airport Watch, which unites green bodies and community groups opposed to the expansion of the aviation industry.

Not all of these groups are comfortable with the idea of direct action.

In previous protests, camp activists have occupied buildings and blocked roads.

Spokeswoman for the camp Anna Jackson said: "It's likely there will be some disruption for people going to the airport.

"I can't say exactly how much because that will be decided by the protesters themselves at the camp."

She said there would be no attempt to access runways, but insisted that causing problems for ordinary holidaymakers was justified.

We're not directly involved in the camp, we're not actually encouraging our supporters to get involved with it
Ed Pomfret
Woodland Trust

"150,000 people die each year around the world because of climate change.

"Those people have a right to life more than people here have a right to fly.

"What's more moral - going on holiday or trying to stop climate change pushing our ecosystems to the point of collapse?"

Last summer, the first Camp for Climate Action was held at the Drax coal-fired power station in Selby, North Yorkshire.

The power station had gained an injunction prohibiting any trespassing, but protesters ignored it and entered the site in a bid to close it down.

The effort to hold back the protestors involved seven police forces and cost 3.8m.

'Obvious absurdity'

If granted, BAA's injunction would restrict the movements of all members of Airport Watch's supporting groups.

In a statement, one of them, the National Trust, said trying to ban all protests did BAA "no credit".

Police restrain a protester
Drax power station's injunction was breached by protesters

"An injunction of this scope is an obvious absurdity and we are confident that it would never be granted and could never be enforced," it said.

Despite supporting the issue at stake, several of the groups have sought to distance themselves from the camp, and in particular, the planned disruption.

Ed Pomfret, head of campaigns at The Woodland Trust, said: "We're not directly involved in the camp, we're not actually encouraging our supporters to get involved with it."

He said the trust was part of the Airport Watch coalition, but added: "There's no-one in Airport Watch who actually takes part in direct action under that banner.

"That's why we feel the injunction is very heavy-handed."

Martin Harper, head of sustainable development at the RSPB, said his organisation was not linked with the camp.

But he said: "It does seem extraordinary at a time when half the country is knee-deep in water and the government is bringing forward legislation to tackle clime change that BAA is having to resort to bullying tactics to halt protests."

Another Airport Watch member, Friends of the Earth, said its protests were within the law and would not comment on how other organisations conducted their campaigns.

A spokesman said: "Friends of the Earth's rights and justice centre is acting for Airport Watch and other campaign groups in relation to an application for an injunction and will be providing legal observers at the camp, though we are not involved with organising the camp."




SEE ALSO
Police facing 3.8m protest bill
05 Feb 07 |  North Yorkshire
Power station protesters arrested
01 Sep 06 |  North Yorkshire

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