A softer side of the rebellion

XR Luton ladies were invited to a Precious Pearls event for women, at High Town Methodist Church.

It was a great event with lots of interesting speakers, then there was a piano player, singing and dancing, making this quite a giggle! The emphasis was on caring for Mother Earth, and it was wonderful to hear that so many women are aware of the Climate Crisis and want to be part of the change we all need.

We set up a stall with Rachel’s beautiful table cover, and our new leaflets which show Extinction Rebellion are more than a group of complainers – we are searching for solutions and have some of the answers to create our future. Lot’s of positive conversations and connections made with this community.

Thanks Ann for organising the event, hope to see you for another one soon!

Scientist in court for handing out leaflet

Protesters outside the airport, preparing to march to Luton Town Centre

Physicist Dr Robert Basto will appear at Luton Magistrates Court this week charged with not leaving the airport when requested (bylaw 2.24) after attempting to hand out leaflets alerting people to the climate emergency. 

Dr Basto’s arrest took place at London Luton Airport on 18 January 2020, where Extinction Rebellion protesters were preparing to march from the airport to the town centre, to demonstrate against the proposed airport expansion.

Dr Basto entered the terminal building with other demonstrators to hand out leaflets. Police stated leafleting was not permitted and arrested Dr Basto as he approached a member of the public with a leaflet.

He will attend a plea hearing at Luton Magistrates Court this coming Thursday 20 February at 2:00pm, where he intends to plead not guilty.

Dr Basto said:

“Whilst handing out leaflets may be against the bylaws at Luton, being arrested is a heavy handed and extreme response to the peaceful act of informing people of the dangers we face.

Leafleting has been allowed at Gatwick and other airports. Luton Council own the airport and have declared a climate emergency in January, so I hope they will reconsider this policy of not allowing passengers to be informed of the detrimental effects of flying.

We are at a critical point in human existence, we have little time to avoid catastrophe due to the destabilised climate. This is a time when courage is needed to face up to the challenges ahead and accept that change is needed, both by industry and individuals – we urgently need to reduce the amount of flying we do.”

Rob Basto, 72, from Reigate, Surrey has been campaigning on issues relating to the climate emergency for nearly 20 years. He was one of the “Heathrow 13” who blocked the runway at Heathrow airport in 2015 and has also campaigned against fracking – the use of environmentally damaging techniques for the extraction of oil and gas in the UK.

Dr Patil Mead, a supporter of Extinction Rebellion from St. Albans who was also in the airport says:

“The climate & ecological emergency is a health emergency. As a doctor I feel unable to stand by knowing the well-recognised public health effects of climate change, particularly in view of the more immediate & specific health effects of the aviation sector in airport locations. Luton Council’s own 2018 report highlighted 86 excess deaths in the vicinity of the airport, even before the proposed expansion.

The lack of value for the health and lives of those based in Luton is both medieval and criminal. Action taken to highlight this disproportionate effect on normal people is not the moral crime here. The draconian response from the airport authorities to conceal their ethical crime against local residents demonstrates the complete disregard that the establishment has for normal, hardworking people.”

Nigel Harvey a supporter of Extinction Rebellion from St. Albans who was also in the airport says:

“We are in a climate emergency. We are running out of time to make the radical changes needed to tackle the crisis. We must face what David Attenborough described as irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies. And yet, Luton police and airport management would not even allow us to peacefully distribute leaflets to travellers. It beggars belief. It is immoral.”

Additional Information:

Luton Council own 51% of London Luton Airport. The council declared a climate emergency in January this year.

The Heathrow 13 from the campaign group Plane Stupid blocked the North runway at Heathrow for around 6 hours in 2015. They were found guilty of aggravated trespass and given 6 weeks suspended custodial sentence.

Contact details

Extinction Rebellion UK: www.rebellion.earth
Luton group press contact: Jim Peacock, press@xrluton.org

Our Action in January 2020

“What passion and creativity!”

“A riot of colour and sound!”

“How can seven people dressed in red have such a powerful impact?”

These were some of the comments heard in Luton Town on Saturday, at the end of a day when about 150 people marched from Luton Airport to the town centre, singing, drumming, dancing and showing the town that airport expansion is just wrong.

The demonstration had been organised by Extinction Rebellion, and for the first time in Luton, the Red Rebels were seen, silently and mysteriously mourning both the animals that will die if climate change is not halted, and the people already dying as a result of air pollution.

The Red Rebels at St Mary’s Church

Yet the Red Rebels were also triumphant:

Triumph on the Town Hall steps

The demonstration was a mixture of sorrow and triumph. Sometimes the music for the walkers was hauntingly beautiful. At other times, there were drum beats, dances, slogans and chants.

“Say no. Say no. Say no to airport expansion”, came the chants again and again.

One of the banners passing the Town Hall

There was acknowledgement of achievement, as well as protest.

“The Council HAVE been listening to us”, declared Extinction Rebellion member Jeremy Williams, when he spoke to the public at the end of the demonstration. Luton Borough Council has finally declared a Climate Emergency. Nevertheless, Extinction Rebellion will continue to lobby the Council, pressing them to stick to their intentions.

“We aren’t just about demanding action from other people and protesting about stuff”, he explained. “We’re going to work with the Council all the way. We want to be constructive, and part of the solution”

Steve Lyall, another member of Extinction Rebellion, explained some of context for the day’s demonstrations. He told the public about the huge impact airport expansion would have on the health of our town and of the region. “We cannot let this happen”, he insisted.

Saturday 18th – Operation: Mad Hatter

Extinction Rebellion is dedicated to drawing attention to the climate crisis. Here in Luton, the council CHOSE TO DELAY declaration of a climate emergency, rather than join the many councils that have. They are considering a plan, but why wait?

[UPDATE: Luton have now declared a climate emergency; BBC coverage here]

Then there is the proposed Luton Airport expansion. Recent consultations conveniently ignored the impact of flights and road travel from calculations, which will obviously impact noise, pollution, traffic, AND the climate. The Council/LLAL (they are one and the same) have exaggerated job creation, plus we have a taxpayers bill of £446m and counting. Crazy!

As if all this wasn’t enough, in December 2019 Luton was named the pollution capital of the United Kingdom (citation: Birmingham University). We have reviewed pollution monitor data, and have serious concerns; the readings, locations monitored and data management among them.

It’s driven us all MAD!

We are holding Operation: Mad Hatter in Luton on Saturday, 18th January 2020

We have friends from across the UK joining us for this family friendly action, with the simple aim of drawing attention to our flight plight. Some of the things you can look forward to:

  • Discobedience – dance in defiance. Watch out for the first appearance of Michaela the Trailer
  • Samba Bands – for the festival flavour
  • The mysterious Red Rebels, floating through various Town Centre locations
  • Luton crowd favourites: the Elephant, Anti-Aircraft Staff, the Reaper, and maybe Mister Oak…
  • The Judge is coming! An Ecocide trial for the Council and the Aviation industry

Note this is a family friendly, non-disruptive action. There will be surprises! Come and join in, everyone is welcome!

Join and share from the Facebook event page or get in touch below.

Action at the Airport Consultation

The Luton airport expansion plan consultations are a slick and sombre affair, staffed by consultants who present from carefully sanitised stands and brochures – it’s a shame almost everyone who visits is opposed to the plan. It is such a waste of paper and staples.

Yesterday was cold, wet, and dark early, but this wasn’t going to stop us..

We held a little party!

We’ve been attending as many of the consultations as we can, but there are so many over such a wide area -so instead we picked St Francis Church in Luton yesterday afternoon to show LLAL how to consider airport expansion the Extinction Rebellion way – Non Violent Disruptive Action – for the purpose of highlighting The Truth.

Banners, signs, music (we have a killer playlist), hot drinks – we took over the entrance with other like minded people (nearly everyone) joining us.

The friendly face of XR Luton, handing out our leaflets alongside a less fancy (but perfectly informative) display board.

Mister Oak – nature needed to make it’s presence felt. The kids loved his manic dancing, he even teamed up with…

The Grim Reaper. He has 86 lives to claim each year in Luton due to pollution – he doesn’t want to double it. He has quite enough work on as it is.

The ground staff need to keep their jobs, so they are sworn to silence and living in denial…

.. until they had enough and blocked the road for an anti aircraft demonstration.

There was more – the Lady of Death was gliding through the room, surveying her domain. We had our Elephant in the room, and true to his name, somehow, everyone ignored him! Throughout the afternoon and evening we had a blast – messing around, waving at traffic, dancing in the street and generally making sure it was OUR event, and not theirs.

At the same time Roberto Perrone interviewed our wonderful Sophie on BBC Three Counties Radio (listen from 17:30 which is 2:30 in), who is not at all media trained, and put across our arguments succinctly for the listeners. This was followed (with a lot more airtime) by Robin Porter, chief executive of Luton Borough Council and LLAL, who knew what he wanted to get across.

Sorry Robin, we pay your wages and don’t want to die on your watch. We will fight this all the way to protect our loved ones, and yours.

Ask your MP or Councillor these questions

Are you willing to ask our representatives Climate Crisis questions? Their answers will help the XR Luton Political Group understand their views, helping us shape our actions going forward.

We’d like you to contact current and potential MPs and Councillors – find your Ward Councillors here.

Let Helena know by email ( xrluton@gmail.com ) of your plans (to help avoid double-ups), then pass on their responses by Thursday 5th December.

We will review all responses, then put forward proposals at the Luton Council Citizens Assembly on the Climate Crisis meeting, to be held on 11th December.

Thank you all – together we are making huge strides for our planet.

Five Main Questions

  1. Do you believe that we are experiencing a climate crisis?

If YES:

  • What do you believe politicians and others in positions of power should do about it?
  • What are you personally planning to do about it?
  • Do you believe that environmental groups such as XR, Friends of the Earth etc are doing the right thing by trying to raise people’s awareness of the current crisis?

If NO:

  • What are your reasons for believing we are not in a climate crisis?
  • Have you read the IPCC* report?
  • What do you make of its findings?
  • What do you attribute the changes in climate to?

*The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigations options. They believe that there is a climate crisis which will adversely impact all life on Earth if not addressed with urgency.

2. Do you believe that we should stop airport expansion?

  • With reference to question 1, how can you reconcile airport expansion with dealing with a climate crisis?
  • Would you support frequent flyer and executive jet levies as well as stopping expansion?
  • What else can you do to help make aviation “greener”?

3. Luton has high levels of air pollution, what can you do to improve the situation?

Notes: In Luton, 86 deaths were attributed to particulate air pollution per annum with 1,004 associated life-years lost. (Public Health England, quoted by Luton Borough Council, Air Quality Action Plan).

4. Should the UK government stop funding investments in fossil fuels?

  • Government policy is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. How can this be done while using taxpayers’ money to fund fossil fuel projects?

Notes: The government’s official climate adviser, the committee on climate change, warned that “export finance is not aligned with climate goals, and often supports high-carbon investments”. You don’t solve a crisis by simply moving it somewhere else to make your own numbers look good.”(Quote: Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth).

In a letter (dated 15th August 2019) Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, rejected a cross-party recommendation by parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to rule out the UK financing fossil fuel projects by the end of 2021. Global Witness research has found that in 2010-16, UKEF (UK Export Finance) supported £4.8 billion in fossil fuel projects, whilst in a similar period, the UK spent £4.9 billion on climate aid via its International Climate Fund, meaning UKEF effectively cancels out the climate aid work of other government departments.

According to the head of the International Energy Agency, the world cannot build any new fossil fuel infrastructure, anywhere, in order to meet he Paris Agreement goal of holding global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. (Global Witness press release Oct 1, 2019)

5. Parliament keeps all voting records, do you support the same transparency for local authorities, and if not, why?

  • Hansard keeps records of all Divisions (MP’s voting records), so why do some local authorities, including Luton Borough Council, not do the same?

Notes: Without records, councillors are able to tell the public that they support a particular issue, but then can vote against it with little fear of this being disclosed.

PRESS RELEASE: Luton residents lodge colourful protest against airport expansion

For immediate release

The Luton branch of Extinction Rebellion (XR Luton) have raised their objections to Luton Airport’s growth plans in colourful fashion. Protesters attended the latest consultation on the plans dressed as elephants, the grim reaper, air stewardesses and airport ground crew. Facts about the climate impact of aviation were displayed on boards outside the venue.

Attendees at the consultation, held at St Francis Church, were not prevented from viewing the display boards or talking to consultants. However, the protests were hard to miss. Starting with protestors in costume, XR Luton moved on to massed ranks of ground controllers signalling planes to halt and switch off their engines. The protest culminated with a die-in, with protestors lying on the floor of the venue.

Luton Airport’s current proposal calls for a doubling in passenger numbers, from 16 to 32 million passengers a year. XR Luton say that in an age of climate crisis, this is irresponsible, especially since Britain is committed to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050. It would also bring a huge rise in noise pollution, air pollution and traffic, as well as building over Wigmore Park.

“Looking around the exhibition space, it’s as if climate change isn’t happening” says Jeremy Williams, an XR Luton member who was dressed as an elephant. “The climate crisis is the elephant in the room. The debate is all about economic growth and jobs, but what is economic growth worth if it comes at the expense of the climate? There are no jobs on a dead planet.”

“We don’t deny that there are benefits to the airport, but we have to ask at what cost? And is it fair that we reap the benefits of the airport locally, while leaving others in more vulnerable parts of the world to pay the price of climate breakdown?”

Among the complaints from protestors was that there was no way to object. “The proposals here are all about how to grow the airport, not whether or not to grow it” said Jason Doyle “If you disagree with the whole idea of growth, there’s no way to say so. That opinion is shut out of the debate.” 

ENDS

For more information contact Jason Doyle 07983 273 072 rebel@xrluton.org

Photos and videos available on request.

Notes:

Extinction Rebellion is a global movement using non-violent direct action in response to the climate emergency. See https://rebellion.earth

Airport Expansion ‘Consultation’ dates

The LLAL Consultations are underway, over 30 presentations to the public across our geographic area, out as far as Aylesbury, Berkhampstead, Cambridge. We’ve been along..

An elephant in the room, with friend, the Grim Reaper
Take a look at our leaflet – come and help us hand them out

We plan to attend as many of these as we can, drawing attention to the awful reality of airport expansion.

We’ve produced a nice simple leaflet, pointing out just a few of the many concerns we have. Click on the image to get the PDF – better yet, get in touch to grab some, then help us get these out to the people.

If you would like to see a carefully worded official expansion website, replete with stock images of shiny planes, it’s here: futureluton.llal.org.uk. The plans are on show, but also attendance of the consultations is advised, especially if you are feeling rebellious.

Anything you learn is perfectly supplemented by the wealth of countering data at Stop Luton Airport Expansion, absolutely essential reading.

We’ve also got a UK Government Petition, calling for expansion to be stopped. Please sign to lend your support.

Our council has delayed declaration of a Climate Emergency on one hand, whilst supporting the most damaging course of action possible with the other.

Our first day in court

Extinction Rebellion Luton carried out our first action at London Luton Airport on 20th September 2019, see details of this action here: Why we took action at the airport today.

Today, 7th October 2019, our three XR Luton activists were conditionally discharged with costs. Here is the statement they read in court:

We took action on the 20th September to raise awareness and sound the alarm on the tragedy that is at this minute unfolding around the world.


We believe that our actions caused microscopic damage, compared to the catastrophic devastation that is already happening on our Planet and is only set to get worse.


Thousands of people are dying or being displaced due to extreme weather disasters, land is being swallowed up by the rising oceans due to the melting of ice caps, tipping points are passing us by, reducing the chances for future generations to live decent lives.

(Once Greenland’s ice melts the sea levels will rise by 20 degrees, if the Antarctic ice melts the sea levels will rise by a staggering 200 degrees)!

Burning fossil fuels is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gasses and the warming of the planet. Planes burn a lot of fossil fuel! Aviation is the fastest growing cause of climate change and Luton is the fastest growing airport in the UK. In fact in the UK alone air travel uses 88 million barrels of fuel every year.

In the past 30 years there has been a 60% increase in carbon emissions. Luton Borough Council will declare a climate emergency in January, and has plans to make Luton carbon neutral (not zero carbon) by 2030 – but the very same council is also determined to double the capacity of Luton Airport to 36 million passengers. To do this they will build on Wigmore Valley Park, causing the death and destruction of a wildlife habitat, build new roads and build a new terminal.

How are these statements compatible?

We therefore demand that Luton Borough Council, London Luton Airport Ltd and London Luton Airport Operations Ltd start acting responsibly and reduce flights, not increase them.

Luton Borough Council, London Luton Airport Ltd and London Luton Airport Operations Ltd are all responsible for the enormous destruction that an expansion will bring, with increased air pollution and appalling use of airport concession income, which should be going to essential local services and sustainable projects. But, instead, they continue to chase the impossible quest for endless growth which is slowly killing us all.

Extinction Rebellion Luton, read in Luton Magistrates Court, 7th October 2019

Can we have a minute, or more?

Quick read – please, it’s important. Last night we, along with David Attenborough, got more citizens of Luton switched on to the truth of climate change, asking them to act as if the Truth is Real. We met on George Street at Little Red Creative Studios for a screening of the one hour BBC documentary Climate Change: The Facts.

So I’d really like an hour from you to watch it with your friends and family. It shows when and where the scientific evidence comes from, what could have been done before, what must be done NOW, and how incredibly urgent and high stakes the reality actually is. It’s a balanced appraisal , and ultimately leaves you with the stark truth. Please watch it too, and make some personal decisions.

There was one sticking point for me, electric flight was mentioned as a hope, but the realities of commercial electric flight are tremendously suspect – batteries are heavy and planes don’t fly like bumble bees can’t.

If you’ve read this, watched the YouTube above, and need more convincing before you talk with us, I’ve another YouTube for you:

This 90 minute talk by Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, to a very normal looking room of locals in Cornwall. If you’ve read about how ‘extreme’ he is – here you will see his truth. Listen out for when he says ‘the penny drops’ – it has for me.

If you agree with Roger and us, you’ll remember that you are a citizen too. Get in touch and Join the Rebellion. It will be a pleasure to meet you.