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.

‘Let Luton breathe’ protest in town centre

On Saturday 21st September, Extinction Rebellion and friends gathered outside Luton Town Hall to protest and hold a ‘die-in’ to bring attention to the high levels of air pollution in the town – and the INCREASED levels and direct link to LOSS OF LIFE from expanding the airport.

Activists of all ages, including members of XR Luton and XR Luton Youth, carried banners calling for Luton Council to declare a Climate Emergency.

A cardboard coffin decorated with animal silhouettes highlighted the threat to wildlife around the world – and that fact that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction of life on earth.

Despite the serious topics, this was a family friendly event, and locals were supportive. The protest followed a day of direct action at Luton Airport on Friday.

Why we took action at the airport today

The three activists arrested at the offices of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd explained their actions with the following statement:

Science tells us that greenhouse gases must be reduced immediately to prevent a climate catastrophe. Unchecked, runaway global heating will bring increased floods, extreme weather, wildfires, droughts, famine, and conflict over water and resources. Wildlife numbers will continue to be decimated. Millions of people will lose their homes, their land, and their lives. The climate crisis is an existential threat.

In this context, we consider the expansion of Luton Airport to be an act of ecocide. Business as usual is catastrophic. Further growth is suicide. As local citizens, we can not stand by while airport emissions rise, and life on earth is destroyed for profit.

We call on London Luton Airport to declare a climate emergency, and act now to reduce emissions. Further expansion is not possible.

This is an emergency. 

Airport expansion is terminal, say Luton climate change activists

Press photos here.

Activists in Luton carried out a series of protest actions at London Luton Airport on Friday 20th of September, highlighting the dangers of airport expansion at a time of climate crisis.

Acting as part of Extinction Rebellion, activists gave out flyers and displayed banners in the main airport terminal. A further group glued themselves to the doors of the office of the airport’s operator, London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL).

The protestors deliberately targeted the airport operator rather than passengers. No disruption was intended to flights or travellers.

“At a time of climate breakdown, airport expansion is terminal,” said a spokesperson for the group.

“Luton Airport is the fastest growing airport in the country, and therefore one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions in Britain. The council, local politicians and the operator always talk about the benefits to Luton – but at what cost to our health? Or to local traffic congestion, or noise pollution? At what cost to the world we pass on to our children? At what cost to the world’s most vulnerable communities, already at risk from floods, droughts and extreme weather?”

Passenger numbers through Luton Airport have almost doubled in a decade, with 2018 a record year at 16.6 million passengers. Current plans call for a further doubling to 32 million passengers a year.

Why XR Luton needs YOU to take action

Luton is a place where the need for action on climate change is vital. That’s
because, right here in our town, future generations will suffer the effects of
climate change acutely. Unless we make huge changes, urgently, the health
of our children and our grandchildren will be seriously compromised, and their
lives will be shortened.

That’s because Luton has a growing airport, a motorway and major traffic
congestion. Already. And we want immediate action on these issues.

So what are the issues?

Well, even young children know that there is a climate emergency right now.
It’s important to take notice of what they say; young children become teenage
activists like Greta Thunberg. Listen to her here, as she tries to educate us to
do something urgently:
https://www.ted.com/talks/greta_thunberg_the_disarming_case_to_act_right_now_on_climate/up-next.

A passionate plea, isn’t it?

On 8 October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
produced a report based on 6000 scientific studies. In stressing how urgent
the crisis is, these studies should alarm everyone and motivate them to
action.

BUT – things are not all doom and gloom

According to the IPCC, it is still possible to avoid a 2-degree increase in global
warming. This will require a peak in global emissions by 2020, all electricity
production to be virtually carbon-pollution free by 2050 (earlier in developed
countries), cutting global fossil fuel use by 60% by 2050 and achieving
worldwide zero-carbon pollution by 2100.

The pledges currently made by governments to cut carbon pollution are not
sufficient to avoid warming of more than 2 degrees. More stringent action will
be required to avoid 1.5 degrees of warming, the goal of most developing
countries.

This is why we at XR Luton demand action now!