Protesters blamed for damage at runway site

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The Independent Online
Environmental protestors who set up camp near Manchester airport to try and prevent the building of the second runway have damaged the land beyond repair, council officials said yesterday.

Hundreds of trees, plants and animals are to be moved from the runway site before the construction of the pounds 172m development, as part of an environmental package agreed by the Airport.

But Cheshire County Council said that two areas of the site had been destroyed by the protesters, who were trying to prevent the runway. The campaign became a cause celebre and the media made a national celebrity of a previously unknown environmentalist going under the dubious nickname of "Swampy".

The protestors denied yesterday that there was any mess. Jeff Gazzard, spokesman for the campaigners, said: "Of course any outdoor protest will cause some damage, but nothing like on the scale the council are talking about. This just sounds like an excuse for the airport not to carry out its commitments and save money."