Posts Tagged Heathrow

Not Stupid!

On Sunday night, as promised, I was part of the record-breaking premiere of the Age of Stupid at Islington Vue, one of over 60 cinemas showing the film simultaneously.

I went with fellow candidate Jo Shaw, along with other friends of Angel resident Betty Harris, one of the film’s 200+ funders. To quote Jo, “it’s a difficult film to watch at times, dealing with the effects of climate change and the limited time we have to get to grips with our carbon emissions. Basically scientists are pretty much agreed that we’ve got until 2015 to get our act together, or it may be too late to prevent catastrophic climate change.”

It’s an inspiring film because it doesn’t just portray the devastation caused by climate change but shows how we can, still, change it – provided we act together and act now. Do we want to be suicidally Stupid, or Not Stupid.

The film avoided being too one-sided or preachy. Pete Postlethwaite plays the only fictional role, a man looking back and asking why we didn’t act when we could. But most of the footage is real people in the world now: and their lives show both the terrible impact of climate change and our oil-dependent lifestyles, but also the complex human stories involved.

The film is helping raise awareness of the urgent need for action by government in the run up to the Copenhagen summit. Being at the premiere we also saw the live Q&A with the film’s director, producer and star. They praised the government for the Climate Change Bill, but condemned the decision to go ahead with expanding Heathrow; and if the Kingsnorth power station goes ahead, they are asking people not to vote Labour again.

What else you can do:
– go and see the film! It’s on at Screen on the Green at on Sunday 29th March, Tuesday 31st March and Thursday 2nd April, all at 2 p.m.
– sign up to be Not Stupid
– come on the Stop Climate Chaos march on 5 December.

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Come on feel the noise

Like many Londoners on a sunny Sunday, this morning I hopped on the tube and headed off to a picturesque pub.

The Green Man is a half-timbered pub, with cherry blossom in the garden. Outside there’s a traditional red letter box and across the road, the village green has daffodils in flower. The nearby field has geese, goats and horses. It sounds idyllic. It should be. But this is the Green Man at Feltham, yards from the airport boundary, right under the Heathrow flight path.

The planes are flinchingly loud, and so low you feel you could reach up and touch their landing gear. With one every few seconds, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than the most enthusiastic plane-spotter enjoying a pint in the Green Man’s beer garden.

I was there with other MPs, leading candidates, and Euro campaigners to highlight the impact of air travel on climate change – and to protest against Government plans for Heathrow expansion.

As we took our photos on the village green, first one, then a second police car rolled up. Were they enjoying the sight of our photographers lying flat on the grass to get the best angle? Or were we to be arrested for some breach of the increasingly mad anti-terror laws? With 5 MPs, an MEP, three lawyers and a trades union official among our number, it might have been interesting to see them try. But in fact after a friendly hello, we ended up doing photos with the police car too. (They’ve not yet banned that….)

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Another Heathrow vote

Campaigning MPs from all parties are doing their best to combat the expansion of Heathrow.

And for good reason. As I’ve blogged before, another Heathrow runway will be a disaster for the environment without helping the economy: a seriously bad idea.

One of the many disgraceful aspects of the Heathrow issue is that the Labour government denied MPs the decision. So good news that this week Susan Kramer MP opened a debate to amend the Planning Act 2008 “to require parliamentary approval for proposals for the building of new major airports and additional runways at existing major airports”.

Lib Dem MPs backed the idea. So did principled Labour MPs like Jeremy Corbyn. In fact most of the Labour rebels were London MPs who know how their constituents will be affected.

So how did Emily Thornberry vote? She didn’t. Couldn’t be bothered? Had a better offer? Who knows…. We can all protest, go on demos, sign petitions, etc: many of us do! But we rely on our MP to do the one thing we can’t do: use their vote in Parliament on our behalf. And once again, Emily Thornberry has let Islington down.

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I blogged before about how I’d become co-owner of a plot of land at Sipson village.

Sipson is the community that will be flattened if the Government implements its plans to expand Heathrow airport. And our field of dreams works on the principle that if we come together, they can’t build it.

Now the Airplot campaign has its own website.

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The plot thickens

The entire Lib Dem frontbench has now signed-up to co-owning land at Heathrow.

So I am not alone in my west London smallholding; and you can join in too.

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Islington Gazette: “MP slammed for missing Heathrow vote”

The Islington Gazette has covered the Heathrow vote, and Emily Thornberry’s failure to take part, here.

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Heathrow vote: and Emily Thornberry bottles it

Well, as predicted, it was close.

On Wednesday night Parliament voted on the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow by building a third runway. Liberal Democrat MPs and most Conservatives attempted to put a stop to the Government’s scheme by voting it down. 57 Labour MPs had previously said they opposed the plans, so what happened on the night? 28 Labour MPs rebelled, but the rest either abstained or voted with the Government, meaning that the motion was defeated by just 19 votes.

Our local Labour MP Emily Thornberry was one of the 57 – but when it came to the vote she was nowhere to be seen. Her absence, and that of other Labour MPs who claimed to oppose the plans, but then bailed out on the vote, has effectively given the green light to this very un-green project.

With a third runway, Heathrow will become the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK. The planning process alone is costing millions of pounds that could be much better spent as Britain faces recession.

So many groups and individuals in Islington have done all they can to fight Heathrow expansion. Not least because our borough lies directly under the flight path. I’ve become co-owner of a plot of land where the new runway is planned to be built. Islington’s Liberal Democrat council joined the 2M group of councils who are fighting the Government over Heathrow.

We can all sign petitions, go on demos, lobby and campaign. The one thing we have to rely on our MPs to do is to use their votes in Parliament. The Heathrow motion may have been tabled by the Tories, but it wasn’t a party political game.

MPs from all parties united to vote with their consciences and against Heathrow. Some Labour MPs even sacrificed their government jobs to take a stand. Emily Thornberry didn’t even have to do that. All she had to do was vote. But she still bottled it, putting petty party politics ahead of standing up for local people and the fight against climate change. Just as she did with Post Offices, the 10p tax rate, and funds for social housing.

The government’s support for Heathrow expansion leaves its green credentials in tatters. And any claim by Emily Thornberry to be a strong, independent voice for Islington is in tatters too.

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Greenpeace’s Heathrow campaign: an email too far?

There’s been some debate, reported over at the Wardman Wire, on the effectiveness or otherwise of Greenpeace’s latest lobbying technique.

Greenpeace wants to ensure, quite rightly, that the 57 Labour MPs who have said they oppose Heathrow expansion actually act on their words and vote that way in Parliament. So far so good.

But now Greenpeace has set up an option on their campaign website to mass email MPs. While mass letter-writing or phoning is time-consuming and expensive, mass emailing is quick and easy for the sender, but a nightmare for the recipients.

For what it’s worth, I used the Greenpeace email as a prompt to lobby my own MP, Emily Thornberry, who is one of the 57 currently targetted. I didn’t use the mass mailer as it could be counter-productive.

However I think it would be utterly pathetic for any of the MPs to use criticism of Greenpeace’s tactics as a reason to vote for Heathrow expansion, or sit on their hands and abstain!

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Heathrow expansion: close vote expected

It looks as if there will be a close vote in the Heathrow expansion debate today.

Labour are whipping furiously in favour of the third runway. Labour MPs flying back from Strasbourg will get their fare paid if they vote in favour, but not if they vote against.

Lib Dems are united against the runway. Some Labour MPs will rebel and vote with the Lib Dems (as I’ve asked our local MP to do). Andrew Slaughter has quit his PPS job to be free to vote against Heathrow: Emily Thornberry has no such sacrifice to make.

However, it’s also expected that some Conservative MPs will follow their party’s traditional pro-Heathrow stance, rebel against their leadership, and vote in favour. And as with the controversial vote on 42 days, the Labour government may also be looking to the Ulster Unionists to bail them out.

Watch this space….

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Time for MPs to stand firm on Heathrow

Greenpeace are urging us to lobby the 57 (like Heinz varieties!) Labour MPs who’ve said they are against Heathrow expansion.

Why? Because the Government has given way and will, after all, let Parliament vote on the issue.

I’ve just emailed this letter to Islington South MP Emily Thornberry, who is one of the 57.

Dear Emily,

As you will know, there is a debate and vote next Wednesday on the government’s plans to expand Heathrow with a third runway and a sixth terminal.

You have already spoken out against Heathrow expansion, you & I shared a platform against the plans last year; now I urge you to stand by your words and vote with the Liberal Democrats, and against a third runway, on Wednesday. Your vote will reflect how serious you really are about tackling climate change.

With a third runway, Heathrow would become the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK . The third runway decision severely threatens the government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

It will worsen the already high pollution levels around the airport, and will provide little or no substantial economic benefit to Britain , as most of the extra passengers will be in transit. Sipson village will be destroyed for ever. Air traffic noise over many parts of London and the SouthEast, including Islington, will increase significantly.

With the challenges of climate change becoming more pressing, the government’s support for Heathrow expansion leaves its green credentials in tatters. The planning process alone is costing millions of pounds that could be much better spent as Britain faces recession.

I’m not alone in opposing Heathrow expansion and you won’t be either. Opposition to the new runway grows rapidly. Given the urgency of reducing our emissions and the challenge of realising it, voters from all parties will be watching closely how you vote next Wednesday.

The government’s response to tackling climate change is a critical issue, and one that will influence how many people vote in the next election.

Whatever our differences on other issues, I hope that your vote will be one for strong cross-party co-operation on the green agenda, and against the third runway.

Yours sincerely,

Bridget Fox

Watch this space for any reply!

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