Extinction Rebellion protesters blockade Farnborough airport in climate protest

Protesters used a limousine, wooden structures and oil barrels to block the entrance

Holly Bancroft
Saturday 02 October 2021 19:49 BST
Climate activists stage protest at airport against private jet emissions_Original Video_m201222.mp4

Extinction Rebellion protesters claim to have blocked all the major entrances to Britain’s biggest private jet airport.

Protesters were lying across the three main entrances to Farnborough airport in Hampshire on Saturday morning, with a limousine being used to block one of the entry roads.

At the other two, protesters were sitting on top of makeshift teepee-like structures while others were “locked in” to oil barrels in the middle of the road.

Speaking from the scene, one member of Extinction Rebellion said: “We are here today because we are calling out Farnborough airport and we are calling out private flights. Our demand is for the government to ban private flights.”

Farnborough airport operates private flights and boasts of “offering a 5 star service with no compromises”. It operated over 32,000 flights in 2019, with 27 per cent of those taking place at weekends.

An airport spokesperson told the BBC that the airport was still fully operational and that the situation was continuing to be monitored. A video posted to social media at the start of the protest on Saturday morning showed cars driving round one of the blockades into the airport.

XR Farnborough, a local branch of Extinction Rebellion, said on social media that some of the blue flags obstructing the road had been removed by security to let a car leave the airport to head to the hospital, before being replaced.

Hampshire police said that no arrests had been made, adding that “everyone has the right to free speech and protest”.

Protester Todd Smith, a former airline pilot from Reading, said: “It’s strange being outside an airport in my uniform. I’m used to waking up at 3 in the morning, putting on my uniform, and going to work.

“Unfortunately that’s not a reality for me any more. Once I fully understood the reality of the situation that we are in I felt compelled to do something about it.”

He went on to criticise Farnborough airport’s offer of sustainable aviation fuel to customers.

He said: “The term ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ was coined by the aviation and fossil fuel industry to deceive the public, greenwashing the utterly destructive nature of biofuels.

“Biofuels result in land grabs, deforestation, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, rising food prices and land-use emissions, which can be worse than the fossil fuel they are replacing.”

The Farnborough airport protests were organised by one of Extinction Rebellion’s regional groups, XR South East. They posted photos and videos of one activist using wire cutters to get into the airport on Saturday morning.

The protests come after weeks of disruption by the affiliated activitist group, Insulate Britain. The group staged their tenth day of protests in three weeks on Friday, glueing themselves to the ground at junction 3 of the M4 near Heathrow airport.

A spokesperson for Hampshire police said: “We can confirm that officers are at Farnborough airport where a protest is taking place.

“Everyone has the right to free speech and protest. We have a long history of facilitating peaceful protest and upholding the right to protest, while balancing it with the rights of others, keeping the public safe, preventing crime and disorder and seeking to minimise disruption.

“At this time no arrests have been made.”

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