Nine protestors from the anti-aviation group ‘Plane Stupid’ have left the Kingsnorth Climate Camp to mount a protest against short-haul flights from the nearby Gatwick Airport. The nine climate activists had been planning to protest against the government’s plans to expand Kingsnorth coal fire power station. However continual police intimidation and violence forced them to leave the camp, choosing instead to protest against the popularity of short-haul flights, especially during the Edinburgh Festival, from Gatwick airport.
The nine activists arrived at the airport at 7.50am. They then split into three groups. The first group scaled the wall next to the escalator above the train station, occupying the roof structure and dropping a banner: ‘SHORT-HAUL FLIGHT? LET THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN.’ The second group mounted the mezzanine above the arrivals lounge, handcuffed themselves to a railing and dropped a banner: ‘STOP SHORT-HAUL’. The third group, dressed as ‘information points’, with t-shirts asking, ‘can I hinder?, leafleted the surprised crowd with information about the ecological cost of aviation and the irresponsibility of those who fly short-haul.
Lotti Rutter, one of those handcuffed to the railing, said:
‘It’s terrifying – we’re approaching a climate catastrophe yet the Department for Transport do absolutely nothing to provide us with a low carbon transport policy – there are a total of 139 flights from London to Edinburgh as opposed to just 22 trains. We’re here today to protest against short-haul flights. We’re well aware that a lot of people will be choosing to go to the Edinburgh Festival and we’re here to ask them to make the right decision – to take the train. In a time of climate crisis anything else is more than irresponsible: it’s Plane Stupid.’
Gatwick flies 26 times daily to Edinburgh. The same route is covered by a four hour train ride from London King’s Cross. However there are only 22 trains per day. The route from London to Edinburgh (by air) is also covered by Heathrow (66 flights), Stansted (31 flights), Luton (12 flights) and London City Airport (4 flights).
The activists are presently at Gatwick continuing their protest, after which those not arrested will return to the Climate Camp to continue their environmental action.