We're grassroots Heathrow residents proving that communities less dependent on oil can be more resilient, stronger and happier. We take direct action on climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy by transitioning to a post-oil, community-led future for the Heathrow villages.

Campaigners remain defiant after Manchester airport protest sentencing

Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Campaigners from the ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ group were sentenced today after a 2 day trial at Trafford Magistrates’ court. The judge recognised the “sincerity” and “laudable motives” of the protesters, and handed down lenient sentences of 2 year conditional discharges and £310 in court costs each. One defendant received 80 hours of community service. The 6 campaigners stood trial for an action last May 2010 where they formed a human circle around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet. All 6 pleaded not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass, stating that they acted out of necessity to prevent the higher crime of climate change.

In November 2009 Manchester airport received planning approval to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport, which will result in the demolition of local homes and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Although the coalition government cancelled plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, campaigners are now focussing their action more regionally as capacity is now being increased at regional airports instead.

Martin Eakins, local councillor, described the local efforts to prevent expansion at the Airport. In response to the judge’s suggestion that campaigners would have had a strong case for judicial review of the plans, he explained that they had been refused funding on the basis that their challenge would be unsuccessful. Local resident, Pete Johnson, whose home on Hasty Lane faces demolition, told the court that their “efforts were thwarted by politicians with vested interests,” and that he felt “angry, frustrated and cheated.”

Over the 2 days the court has heard from many leading public figures who spoke out in defence of the ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ group. On day one, leading scientist, Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in Manchester, spoke out on the aviation industry’s ‘special treatment’. The aviation industry receives £9 billion a year in tax subsidies. Dr Geoff Meaden spoke on the impacts of climate change in the North West. Today public health expert Dr Robin Scott spoke on the health impacts of climate change.

Expert witness statements were also read out including one written by John Mcdonnell MP who was a vocal politician in defeating the third runway at Heathrow airport.

People from across North England have now pledged to continue taking direct action to stop the expansion plans. The threatened homes in Manchester have ‘twinned’ with the village of Sipson which would have been demolished to make way for the Heathrow expansion.

Speaking after the ruling one of the 6 defendants Iain Hilton, said:

Whatever the outcome was today, this climate court trial will not be the last. Climate change is accelerating at the same rate as it was before and continues to be the biggest threat to life as we know it. We have heard in court peer-reviewed Science, public health advocates, witness statements from MPs and we have heard from communities whose homes are threatened by airport expansion plans at Hasty Lane. We will not wait for the judicial system to act. Civil disobedience is a duty and a responsibility and we will continue to act to stop climate change”.

John Mcdonnell MP said:

When governments themselves so blatantly ignore the wishes of the people they are elected to represent, when they promote the sectional interests of one sector of business above the interests of their citizens, when they deny Parliament an effective role, when they subvert their own democratic planning processes, and when their actions so dangerously contradict their own legislation on climate change, responsible citizens are left with no alternative but to take direct action to further the cause that they believe in.”

Scientist Kevin Anderson said in court:

Why is it fair that aviation continues to be a special case while every other sector has to reduce their emissions? Every year we have an exponential increase in CO2 embedding us in a future of dangerous climate change. If aviation continues to grow that means we’re heading for 4 degrees, but that would only be a transient temperature on the way to an equilibrium rise of 6 to 8 degrees. A rise of 4 degrees is dire, above that it gets worse and worse- it is a future that we contemplate at our own peril.”


Manchester airport on trial… again

Posted: February 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

At 9am this morning, a real sense of solidarity could be felt outside Trafford Magistrate’s Court. The six defendants appearing in court face an aggravated trespass charge for forming a circle using armtubes around the wheel of a Monarch Airline jet last May. Everyone was in high spirits, mixed with anticipation, despite the drizzling rain. The relaxed atmosphere was slightly tainted by the unnecessary presence of a FIT officer, invasively filming supporters of the defendants as they arrived at court.

We need to start waking up to the fact that climate change isn’t just a problem for future generations; we are seeing its devastating impacts now. The aviation industry receives tax breaks of £9 billion each year, including paying nothing on fuel, while public sectors are cut and the VAT we pay on toilet roll increases to 20%. Why is it fair that the aviation industry gets special treatment whilst other sectors must reduce their emissions? This is what Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research has been asking this afternoon as he spoke at the trial. He was arguing for the necessity of the defendants’ actions in the face of runaway climate change, adding that even the current emissions of the aviation industry exceed the capacity of our climate, let alone if airports continue to expand.

The actions of the Manchester defendants are an example of how we might be able to see real change; signing petitions just isn’t enough anymore. We need to start targeting the industries and corporations who are not only dodging tax whilst public sectors are cut, but also continue exploiting our planet.

Come and support the defendants tomorrow or Wednesday morning at 9am at Trafford Magistrate’s Court, Manchester, or send your statements of support to manchesterairportontrial@gmail.com.

The time to act is now!

Words by Kerry Williams, Manchester Airport on Trial


300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds

Posted: December 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Here’s a video well worth 300 seconds of your time. Have you ever questioned why we need a just transition to a more sustainable future? This video attempts to explain why in only 300 seconds….


Seeds of Hope: A journey to Reclaim the Fields by Trebor Golan

Posted: November 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Hope is an idea we see bandied around from religious texts to the mouths of presidents.  This Hope can leave us with a flaccid trust in others to act on our behalf; it can leave us hopeless. And yet Hope is what we found in the mountains of Austria at the Reclaim the Fields gathering last week.

For five days, food-growing groups from around Europe met at the Wiesenhoisl collective farm outside Graz to work together on issues such as food autonomy, access to land and seed sharing. Five of us joined the meeting from land projects in the UK, learning about the politics of the three-year old network and sharing our own stories, skills and strategies.

Through these exchanges, by working and playing together we formed strong connections, drawing inspiration from one another’s struggles and tales of resistance.

In the Autumn forests of Austrian mountains we discovered a mutual empowerment and new energy to bring Reclaim the Fields (RTF) back to the UK.  It is these networks of collective action and a culture of ‘We are Everywhere’ that brings Hope to our fight for social and environmental justice.

Reclaim the Fields Reclaim the Fields was born out of a group of European farmers and landless people linked to the international peasant movement la Via Campesina.  Over the last three years it has brought together young farmers, city gardeners, seed-savers, and land squatters, from all over Europe to reassume control over food production.

The network aims to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, autonomous, real-needs focused small-scale production- with an emphasis on putting theory into practice and linking local iniatives with global movements.

Autonomous collectives from different European countries work in a structure described as a ‘constellation’.  There is no one lead star and the network co-operates to support stars (or collectives) that are not shining as brightly and to bring new stars into the constellation.

Reclaim the Fields hosts a summer camp every two years around the principles of self-education and skill-sharing, ending in a mass direct action.

As corporations in the seed industry work to extend seed patents for all cultivated crops, RTF has set-up a seed bank to encourage the exchange of ‘illegal seeds’ outside of prohibitive laws. (for more information read RTF Bulletin Two)

This type of direct action not only questions the law-makers that support profit-making from growing plants, but also builds strong networks around the idea of mutualism in exchange.

A UK star is born

Five food-growers from the UK, brought together by the burgeoning Community Food Growers Network based in London, made the 24-hour coach trip to the Wiesenhoisl farm.

In our rucksacks we took copies of the CFGN draft manifesto to get feedback from the various collectives. The document outlines the goals of the network – such as the promotion of sustainable forms of food production, and  long-term tenure of land to facilitate investment in food growing projects – taking inspiration from the OrganicLea co-operative in Walthamstow, London.

We told the stories of our projects; ‘Common Ground’, a university growing space in Kings Cross, and ‘Grow Heathrow’, a squatted community garden in Sipson next to Heathrow airport.

We explained the strategy of resistance at ‘Grow Heathrow’: to Occupy Create Resist.  To occupy  land used for private enterprise and turn it into space for social need using ecological methods.

To create a counter-culture that questions state and corporate power, exploring and learning from each other by implementing mutualism, consensus, gift economies and solidarity in our every day lives.  To open space for work, play and discussion with people in the local area; to create a vibrant garden of exchange rather than preaching political ideas.

In doing this the collective at Grow Heathrow aims to build resilient communities that are self-sufficient and able to defend themselves from threats such as peak oil and climate change, and also creatively resist  eviction.

Resistance is Fertile

During the five days we picked beans from the farm, sung by the fire (in many languages) and participated in various workshops and planning meetings around access to land, gender and consensus in peasant communities, ‘beet the system’ and extending seed exchange networks.

We began planning a very exciting 2011 summer camp (the location will be announced in the new year), and formed the Reclaim the Fields International Day of Action for the 17th and 18th of April to coincide with the International Day of Peasant Struggle.

We return to the UK in the glow of the Reclaim the Fields constellation, with new ideas and new Hope, and with the determination to add a new bright shining star to the existing collection of collectives.

We have plans to organise a UK Reclaim the Fields gathering in Spring 2011, so this article is not so much to report back from our journey as to call-out to other projects involved in working around food autonomy, and those wanting to; so we can build our projects together, stronger in a network celebrating and learning from our counter-cultures of resistance.

Links

Reclaim the Fields

La Via Campesina


Golden conkers and champion chutneys

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Sunday saw the crowning of Rachel as the Golden Conker Champion, but not without a fiercely fought competition. Whilst the tournament took place in the spectacular conker platform, the sun was shining and pungent smells of delicious apple chutney wafted through the greenhouses.

Thirty people enjoyed a day of chutney and jam making from fruit scrumped from the Heathrow villages a couple of weeks before. An amazing apple press made by Dai and Oscar provided us all with the most scrumptious juice, as we all shared recipes and ideas about storing the fruit for the winter. It was wonderful to see lots of new faces in Grow Heathrow, all getting stuck in and directly taking action on food security by growing food for surrounding communities.

The tension mounted as conkers were selected, knots tied tightly and safety goggles adorned for the start of the Heathrow Villages Conker Championships 2010. Ringmaster Rob got the tournament going and provided endless entertainment with his compering. Conkers were obliterated and some of the games dragged out to sudden death. But as competitors were knocked out, it was down to Juan Stan (aka Joe) and Mexican Day Of The Dead (aka Rachel) in the final. Stampsies was the word of the day, but even so Rachel was the winner and took home the golden conker for the girls.

Overall everyone had a fabulous day of learning, laughing, tasting, playing and sharing. Now is the time to build communities as we are doing in Heathrow; learning about food security and sharing skills for a post-oil future. To see what real community resilience in action looks like, David Cameron should come down to Sipson.


Coryton oil refinery gets a crude awakening

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Media | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

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On Saturday the 16th October, hundreds of climate activists blockaded the access road to Coryton oil refinery in Essex. This was more than just a symbolic direct action – it directly impacted on the oil system. More than 50 tankers were prevented from leaving the site, that’s about 375,000 gallons of fuel.

The day started with 3 blocs meeting in locations around central London, all waiting in anticipation and ready to occupy, build, blockade and reclaim space. As the masses travelled further out of central London, with less than happy police in tow, the energy was mounting. A large road blockade to the Shell Havens Oil Site further down the road consisted of beautiful bamboo tripods, some suitably creative banners and costumes and a personal highlight – the Stilt Bloc.

Police were forced to close the road as further on 12 female activists handcuffed themselves to vehicles deliberately blocking the way for fuel tankers. The day was part of a global week of action against the fossil fuel industry. As the UK’s biggest refinery, Coryton is responsible for 22% of the national forecourt demand. Our lives have become so saturated with oil that unless drastic changes are made, we won’t stand a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

The Crude Awakening highlighted the failure of governments to have the guts to make the necessary changes; as usual, profits are put before people. Finding new oil reserves is the last thing we need and yet oil companies, hand in hand with governments, continue scouring the planet for the last few drops of dirty oil.

So it’s about time we stopped oil companies trampling the rights of local communities, devastating local environments and pushing us all closer towards tipping points. Instead we need to start finding alternative solutions and learning skills for a post-oil future.

Photos of Crude Awakening


Just Do It: Get off your arse and change the world!

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

We’re very excited about Just Do It, the upcoming documentary featuring many of Plane Stupid’s finest.  Please lend them your support, it’ll be well worth it we promise.

Just Do It: get off your arse and change the world is the inside story on the country’s biggest troublemakers. This upcoming feature documentary is a behind the scenes portrait of UK climate activists by acclaimed filmmaker Emily James. The film, currently in post-production (that means the edit) is set for release in Spring 2011 and will be free to watch and free to share.

Just Do It is funded entirely through donations, freeing the film from the constraints of investors or broadcasters. Through a totally unique production model that embraces crowd-funding and the power of working collectively, this film is breaking new ground in independent production. But they need your support.

From TODAY Lush will be matching all donations made to the film, pound for pound up to £10K for a limited time. The Challenge: £20K in 20days – you give half, Lush gives half. So there’s never been a better time to show your support to this truly independent project. Don’t sit on the fence, throw your contribution into their online hat and Lush will match your generosity.

Visit www.just-do-it.org.uk to donate. Do it today, join our crowd and be part of this pioneering film. And of course, donating is only the first step. To make this whole crowd funding malarkey work Just Do It is relying on you to recruit your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else you know to join the crowd and donate. Here’s how:

1 – Email your friends, family and colleagues. Below is a prepared sample message for you but remember it’s the personal touch that counts.

2 – Facebook – update your status, (inc. www.just-do-it.org.uk) post on your friends’ wall, invite your friends to like our page here

3 – There’s nothing like the real world. Start a conversation, show someone the trailer, pick up the phone – convince someone to donate.

There’s a sample pre-packaged message for you below to help you on your way.

SAMPLE EMAIL

Subject: Get off your arse and help these guys

Dear Friend

There’s an amazing documentary film being made but it can’t get finished without our help

It’s called Just Do It and it’s going to be a feature film about climate change activists, it’s going to be funny and inspiring. They’re making it totally independently (ie no big backers) and planning to give it to us for free. But money doesn’t grow on trees, so they need our help.

Go over to their website, check it out, and make a donation. RIGHT NOW Lush are doubling donations so get in there and make it count.

Just Do It website

Just Do It Facebook Page

Just Do It Twitter


Heathrow villages autumn scrumping & conker championship!

Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Growing Group | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Look to the fruit trees of Sipson, Harlington and Harmondsworth! Laden with apples, pears, plums, rosehips, hawthorns and who knows what other goodies lay in the branches.

It’s that time of the year and we are ready for a good old scrumping and preserving session!

Come and join the autumn celebrations and collect these fruits that all too often fall to the floor and rot when they can be enjoyed by everyone in the community.

Sunday 3rd October 11am- 4pm

Scrumping and collecting

Bring tree locations, boxes, nets, energy!

Saturday 23rd October 11am-5pm

Preserving and Storing

Bring recipes, jars, ingredients, ideas!

Let’s share our chutney, cider, wine and jam recipes and learn how to store fruit for the winter together.

Sipson Conker Championship 2010

Bring your conkers at midday to find out who will take home the Sipson Golden Conker. 

Both days starting at the Grow Heathrow site in Sipson, Vineries close, UB7 0JG.

Lunch provided, donations welcome.


Transition Heathrow – A short film

Posted: June 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Video made with love by Just Do It


Rambling thoughts from the garden…

Posted: March 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Growing Group, Residents | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I’ve just finished my first cup of tea of the day as a robin flew around the greenhouses greeting me. Our routine at the garden has started settling into place, albeit with many interesting turns of events along the way.

One such event occurred a few nights ago. A police helicopter was circling overhead and we presumed that it was simply passing. However, as the nuisance persisted, 3 police cars pulled up at the site explaining that the helicopter was initially passing over until it noticed ‘a commotion – possibly protesters or terrorists’. This ‘commotion’ was in fact some friends from the Kew Eco Village joining us for dinner! Several neighbours and friends including Tracy, Linda, Geraldine and John McDonnell, our local MP, turned up to see what was happening. In the end the police left with their tails between their legs and we even got an apologetic visit from them the next day.

Other aspects of the garden adventure have been more productive. Our kitchen at the back of the first greenhouse is rapidly becoming the social hub of the site, complete with a hammock for lounging. It’s looking very beautiful with our collective artwork sprucing it up. There’s still lots more to do all over the site, but hopefully this weekend, the 27th – 28th March, will be fruitful in terms of numbers of visitors. We hope to build a compost toilet, glaze and repair some of the panes of glass in the greenhouses, and pot lots of fruit and veg. The front area is now clear and raked, ready for us to sow a meadow on Sunday. In the summer it will hopefully be glorious and flourishing.

A couple of pigeons are perching on the top of the greenhouse as I write; it’s nice to share quiet times with birds and bees. We couldn’t have got this far without the help, support and donations of countless people. The further we progress, the further our aspirations for the site grow. Who knows, maybe one day soon we’ll even get rid of the mound of rubbish that we’ve cleared out!