Protesters buy land to thwart third runway

Battle over Heathrow expansion has a new front: a field in nearby Sipson

A A A

Green campaigners opened a surprise new front yesterday in the increasingly heated row over a third runway for Heathrow airport – by announcing they had brought land in the middle of the runway site and would not give it up.

A Greenpeace-led coalition of environmentalists, showbusiness figures, scientists and politicians said they had bought a field north of the airport, to be known as Airplot, which would act as a focus for resistance to the runway.

The actress Emma Thompson has joined the comedian Alistair McGowan, the Conservative Party green adviser Zac Goldsmith and Greenpeace director John Sauven in signing the deeds for the site, near the village of Sipson, where 700 homes will be demolished if the runway goes ahead. Others who have signed up to be "beneficial owners" and have their name on the deeds include the local Labour MP John McDonnell, Conservative front bench spokeswoman Justine Greening, Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer and Royal Society Research Fellow Dr Simon Lewis, a well-known climate scientist.

The campaigners say the land, which would be needed for the runway to be built, will never be willingly given up to BAA, the airport owners and sponsors of the third runway project.

Although it could, in theory, be purchased compulsorily, the activists' control of the field means that the legal battle to do that would be significantly more complex, and that a major civil disobedience struggle – people versus bulldozers – would be on the cards. The disclosure of its purchase – for £20,000 – came during a day when public argument for and against the £9bn new runway, expected to be given the go-ahead by the Government perhaps as early as this week, reached new heights of antagonism. Airline chiefs joined business leaders and trade unionists, all members of the Future Heathrow group, in calling for the runway to be built, saying it could create 65,000 jobs. The group says Heathrow is full with its two existing runways operating at 99 per cent capacity, while its European competitors have four runways or more.

But the Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer said: "Pushing ahead with Heathrow expansion will show up ministers' warm words on the environment to be no more than hot air."

Gordon Brown came under pressure from his own party last night not to rush a decision over the third runway. Four Labour backbenchers have been promised a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss their concerns after challenging him during a weekly meeting of Labour MPs.

It is thought the meeting could delay an announcement until next week. Martin Salter, the MP for Reading West who has led the protests of Labour rebels on the issue, said: "The longer the decision takes, the better."

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there