In May this year, shortly after the government passed a motion declaring a climate emergency, there was an announcement that the Heathrow third runway expansion was to go ahead.
David Cameron once said “no ifs, no buts, no third runway”. Boris Johnson has famously stated that he would lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it (although Mr Johnson is developing quite a reputation for saying one thing and doing another). The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has long campaigned against expansion and said last year that if campaigners don’t win in courts, the third runway would become an iconic battleground in the fight against climate change, and that if it can’t be won in the courts or democratically in parliament then it would be won by direct action and solidarity.
With that history behind them, dozens of activists will come together for an action beginning on September 13th, symbolically flying toy drones within the restricted zone around Heathrow airport. The action is carefully designed to avoid all possible threat to passenger safety, but according to current protocols, the airport is likely to shut down and halt flights in response.
At time of publication, the HeathrowPause group have made several attempts to engage with airport authorities asking for a meeting, but no date has been established. They are of course also prepared to call off the action entirely if the third runway project is cancelled.
The corporate media is expected to paint participants as eco-terrorists and suchlike, but the fact is that the people signed up to take part come from all walks of life with no prior histories of activism let alone criminal activity.
We interview Valerie, a grandmother who according to aviation law may face an extended prison sentence for her action. She explains what has brought her to this extraordinary situation, the fears she is confronting, and the hopes that she has to wake up the public and the government to the reality of the climate and ecological crisis.