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Nine charged over airport protest

3 March 09 15:38 GMT

Nine people have been charged after protesters barricaded themselves inside a "wire fortress" on the tarmac at Aberdeen Airport.

Seven people were detained on an airport taxiway at about 0820 GMT, five hours after the protest by campaign group Plane Stupid began.

Two other protesters, who had been on the roof of the main terminal building, were detained shortly after.

Five men and four women will appear in court from custody on Wednesday.

The protesters were campaigning against any expansion of the airport, claiming it would lead to more harmful carbon emissions.

A spokesman for Aberdeen Airport branded the action "dangerous and highly irresponsible".

Airport managing director Kevin Brown said one of the key concerns for staff had been to ensure the departure of an air ambulance.

He said the flight, bound for Inverness, had been held up by the protesters, but not for a "significant" length of time.

A Plane Stupid spokesperson said the group left voluntarily on public safety grounds after being informed of the needs of the paediatric team on board.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson confirmed: "We received an urgent request for a paediatric team in a fixed wing aircraft to travel from Aberdeen to Inverness to attend to an ill baby. The flight was able to depart Aberdeen airport after a slight delay."

Mr Brown said that, out of 350 flights scheduled for the day, 10 had been disrupted.

Flights to Heathrow, Paris and Amsterdam were among those delayed by the protest.

Some offshore helicopter movements were also disrupted.

Plane Stupid said its protesters had dressed in the style of property tycoon Donald Trump, who is backing the expansion of the airport after his plans to build a luxury golf resort in the area were approved.

They draped a banner across the front of the terminal building, close to the BAA Aberdeen sign, which said "Nae Trump games with climate change".

Aberdeen-based security expert Dr David Capitanchik said the breach showed that airports needed to be well defended.

He told BBC Scotland: "I think it probably is possible to protect Aberdeen Airport perhaps a little better and some thought needs to be put into that, I would say."

Passenger Shane Fenton, 29, from Aberdeen, had been due to fly to London for a connecting flight to Trinidad.

He said: "We'll hopefully get a later flight, but there were people next to me due to go to Disney World and they weren't happy.

"I think they [the protesters] are terrorists - I think they should have been hosed down."

Highlands and Islands Airports (HIA) said it was aware of the incident and was maintaining a high standard of vigilance at its sites.

In December last year Plane Stupid activists caused disruption at Stansted Airport in Essex by occupying the runway.

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