Judge Mrs Justice Swift dismissed calls by BAA, the owner of Heathrow airport, for an injunction preventing the 5 million members of four environmental organisations attending the Camp for Climate Action, a climate change protest to be held at an undisclosed location near Heathrow during August 14 – 21.
She instead granted BAA a month-long injunction preventing Plane Stupid campaigners trespassing on land owned by BAA, including the Heathrow site, to carry out civil disobedience intended to disrupt the operation of the airport.
The Camp for Climate Action is unaffected by today’s ruling. Alan Gill from the Camp for Climate Action said that: “the camp will be legal. The camp goes ahead. Everyone can come”.
BAA may be disappointed with today’s verdict, which fell far short of their original proposal. Alan Gill from the Camp for Climate Action told the Ecologist that BAA: “went for an indefinite, criminal injunction” and got “a short-term, small, civil one”.
Mrs Justice Swift dismissed claims that civil disobedience was the primary aim of three of the four environmental groups the BAA had sought to injunct: AirportWatch; HACAN ClearSkies; and No Third Runway Action Group (NoTRAG). AirportWatch, an umbrella group of organisations opposing airport expansion, has a total membership of 5 million people. But she agreed with BAA that: “direct action is the raison d’être of Plane Stupid”.
The four-day hearing was marred by confusion over whom the BAA wanted to ban from protesting, the result of poorly drafted injunction proposals. Martin Chamberlain QC, lawyer for Transport for London (TfL), who attended court to oppose plans – contained in an earlier injunction draft – to prevent protestors travelling to the airport by tube and rail complained today that: “some of the drafts proposed by [BAA] were inconsistent and plainly unworkable”.
BAA was ordered to pay TfL’s full legal costs as well as legal costs for AirportWatch, HACAN, NoTRAG and NoTRAG’s Chair Geraldine Nicholson.
John Stewart, one of the defendants named in the case, told the Ecologist that: “the mother of all injunctions turned out for BAA to be the mother of all setbacks”.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist August 2007