08 December 2008

Plane Stupid's Stansted Protest

On BBC Five Live's morning broadcast, they interviewed people who had "saved up for months for a girly day out to Bremen" ... when the average income of people using Stansted Airport is £48 340 per year (CAA; 2007). This was a peaceful direct action protest ... one morning of disruption to highlight the impact for decades of short-haul flights within Europe.

- The aviation industry creates a "tourism deficit" of £7 billion pounds each year ... this is the amount of money spent abroad by Britons flying out of the UK for leisure and holiday trips, compared with the spending by visitors to Britain

- Airlines receive over £9 billion in tax breaks each year because of tax-free fuel and VAT-free tickets and planes. That's the same as the tuition fees for 3 million students.

- In 2004, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that the government foresees the need for another Heathrow-sized airport every 5 years. Does this sound sustainable ... on carbon emissions grounds, on noise pollution grounds?

Why does one industry get to expand and expand and expand, when the rest of us will have to drastically cut our carbon emissions?

Also see: BBC video of the arrests
Also read: Leo, from Plane Stupid, chatting with the Guardian
Also read: Jess Worth, New Internationalist
Also read: Paul Kingsnorth, commenting on an article on the Guardian's website (616pm, 8 Dec)
Also read: Johnny, from Plane Stupid - Scotland, in his comment in a Telegraph article (624pm, 8 Dec)

7 comments:

Paul said...

I`m sorry, but from a PR perspective this action has been a total disaster.

No member of the public, beyond a hardcore of green activists, is going to feel a single jot of sympathy for these issues as a result of this morning`s protests. Why? Because rather that show the public the damage that will be done by the runway or target the politicans/business men who will be hit by it - the green lobby has instead hit ordinary members of the public.

Thousands of people at the airport have been pissed off to the nth degree and the millions more who will side against the protestors rather than with them. Morally lecturing people after ruining their holidays and costing them money is not, whatever the moral perspective, the way to win hearts and minds.

And I would love to see where that 47k figure came from ... please source it.

scott redding said...

The only reason the runway is being built, the only reason that we've had this explosion in "low cost" airflights, is "ordinary members of the public." As Britney might say, we're not so innocent.

We have to take responsibility for our actions, not rely on businessmen, nor politicians.

Also, it doesn't make sense only targetting businessmen, since over 80% of Stansted's use is for leisure trips.

I think the £47 000 figure was for 2006, but to be precise, you can check here for the 2007 numbers from the Civil Aviation Authority (table 16.8). Unless my maths are wrong, it's £48 339 for Stansted for 2007 (£45344 for leisure travellers; £61585 business).

Green Gordon said...

I'm inclined to agree with Paul. This seems to me to be smug, self-satisfied and punishes the people we need to win over. As I've said elsewhere, there is the potential that Plane Stupid will become the Fathers 4 Justice of the Environmental movement. Also extrapolating some sort of average carbon saving from this action is stupid. Some planes were cancelled, but the delayed ones will take off anyway... You can't just apply an average to any given minute.

Paul said...

Unfortunately Scott, your response shows something of a "club them over the head" approach to PR which I doubt will find many friends or achieve what you want.

If you strip all the gumpf away we get down to the basic aim of the green movement on this issue - reducing carbon emissions from the airline industry. And surely there are two ways of doing this - influencing the public and influencing the decision makers (of course the two impact and relate to each other).

The only way to achieve this aim is to persuade the public and highlight the dangers. Ruining people`s holidays, costing them money and causing them a headache is not going to convince them that youre aims are worthy. Its going to piss them off. Honestly, its not rocket science - and in a practical sense its totally bloody irrelvent what Britney inspired piece of morality you throw into it.

And leaving aside the dubious stats, the fact is low cost airlines benefit people at the lower end of the economic scale. The green movement has to accept its hitting the poorest in society and find a coherent way to balance that out. Its not easy - and I dont pretend to have an answer!

scott redding said...

Well. The stats aren't dubious, unless you think the CAA has been infiltrated by deep green moles.

Hear me now, and believe me later, low-cost airlines don't benefit anyone! They don't benefit the rich (who mainly use them) and they don't benefit working people. They don't benefit anyone, since their drastic expansion in the last decade is cooking the planet, so we all lose.

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