The Camp at the End of the Runway
Last weekend campaigners from across the north joined Manchester Climate Action and Manchester Airport on Trial to set up a temporary camp in the woods by Manchester Airport. The camp was attended by around 40 people over the weekend who came to raise local awareness about the airport’s expansion plans and bear witness to some of the greenbelt land the airport intends to build on over the coming months.
The focal point of the weekend was a cycle caravan and walk around the area on Saturday where campaigners took a tour of the areas which are to effected by the expansion plans, including the area earmarked for the 60 acre ‘Enterprise Zone’ on the edge of Wythenshawe and cottages on Hasty Lane which are due for demolition to make way for a new freight shed.
During the tour of the area the group spoke to local residents and gave out flyers for a public meeting being organised by SEMA (Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport) this Thursday 2nd June at 7.30pm in Benchill.
Sally Holmes from Manchester Climate Action said ‘By 2030 the airport intends to be as busy as Heathrow is now, with flights every 70 seconds. Many of us have come this weekend out of concern for how the expansion will impact the local community, in terms of both air and noise pollution. The airport consistently over estimate how many jobs will be created by the expansion and fail to communicate to local residents how the increase in flights will really impact their lives’.
They were also joined by veteran campaigners involved in the Campaign Against the Secord Runway (CAR2) in the late 1990’s who described where the camps had been, how the biodiversity of the area had been affected and showed empty fields which had been the home of protected ancient woodland just 15 years ago. Although 10 years has passed since the second runway opened, many of those who lived in the former protest camps described how memories quickly came flooding back being in the woods again with the persistent drone of aircraft landing and taking off just a few hundred metres away.
Patrick Stone from Manchester Airport on Trial said ‘the weekend has been real success for us. With so many people coming down to support the campaign it shows the impacts of aviation are still on the high people’s agendas in the UK and that expansion plans won’t go unchallenged.’
Ali Garrigan from SEMA said ‘this event has been really important for raising the profile of the campaign in the local community. With the scoping process for a new national aviation policy taking place over this summer it’s really important that people who care about this issue speak out now. As the majority owner of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) Manchester City Council have a significant opportunity to feed into this scoping process and ensure that future national aviation policy represents their communities wishes and reflect their commitment to tackling climate change’.
The campaigners were warmly received by much of the local community who were shocked to hear details of the extent to which the airport plans to expand both physically on the ground and in terms of flight capacity.