Saturday 28 July 2007

Heathrow puts up legal barricades to keep away protesters

It's freedom Jim, but not as we know it. Mussolini himself said that fascism should better be described as "corporatism" because it involves the fusion of corporation and state. If this doesn't follow that description then I don't know what does.

If you're a member of the National Trust, the RSPB, the Woodland Trust or Friends of the Earth, then you could be banned from Britain's biggest airport. And the Piccadilly line. And parts of Paddington station. And sections of the M4. All because the authorities want to halt a protest against climate change...

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Published: 27 July 2007

Five million people in peaceful environmental organisations such as the National Trust and the RSPB have become the subject of an extraordinary legal attempt to limit their right to protest.

In legal documents seen by The Independent, the British Airports Authority has begun moves that would allow police to arrest members of 15 environmental groups to prevent them taking part in demonstrations against airport expansion.

While the threat of terrorism and consequent security checks have been dominating the headlines during the start of the summer holidays, BAA has been planning a pre-emptive strike against environmentalists.

Next week, in response to a demonstration due to be held outside Heathrow airport, BAA will go to the High Court to seek judicial approval for an anti-environmentalist injunction, the terms of which are so wide they have provoked astonishment among the green movement. Any one of five million people in groups such as the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England could be arrested for travelling on the London Underground or possessing a kite.

Anyone failing to give 24 hours' notice of a protest could be arrested for travelling on sections of the motorway or from standing on platforms 6 and 7 at Paddington station to catch the Heathrow Express. The terms of the injunction would cover: "All railway trains and carriages operating upon the Piccadilly line of the London Underground System ; the M4 and all service stations between and including junctions 3 and 6; and the M25 and all service stations between and including junctions 13 and 15..."

Civil rights campaigners claim the injunction, which will be heard on Wednesday, would put new limits on the right to peaceful protest. Liberty described the "massively wide ban" - which has no time limit - as ridiculously unenforceable. "The dangerous and undemocratic trend of large corporations seeking to trample the legal right to peaceful protest should be taken very seriously by the courts," the human rights group protested.

BAA insisted it had a duty to protect the travelling public from disruption during the holiday season and was not seeking to prevent legal protest. As part of the second annual Camp for Climate Action, up to 5,000 protesters were to pitch tents for a week at or near Heathrow from 14 August in protest at plans for a third runway that would increase flights by 50 per cent. A day of peaceful direct action, such as occupying an airline office, was planned but organisers have promised not to compromise safety or inconvenience passengers.

Full story...