Climate campaigners scale UK Parliament and hang protest banners from the building

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Boeing 747 descending near London Heathrow Airport.

Campaigners opposed to the expansion of London Heathrow Airport have today scaled the roof of the U.K. Houses of Parliament and hung protest banners reading 'BAA HQ' and 'No 3rd Runway' from the building, before and during Prime Minister's Questions inside the building.

The three men and two women were from climate action group, Plane Stupid. The non-violent direct action comes on the day a government consultation into the Heathrow expansion of a third runway ends.

The protesters made paper aeroplanes out of confidential Whitehall documents that allegedly show collusion between the British Airports Authority (B.A.A.) and the Government department of transport to subvert the public consultation process on the proposed third runway. These documents were obtained from the Department for Transport by Greenpeace under the freedom of information act.

B.A.A. claims a third runway is essential for Britain's economy, and would reduce congestion at Heathrow, actually cutting emissions, and is necessary to keep up with the booming aviation industry. This would allow the number of flights to increase from 480,000 a year to around 702,000 .

In a statement given by one of the protesters from the roof to the Guardian newspaper:

We've come to this symbolic home of democracy to make clear that the consultation process of the third runway at Heathrow has, from the beginning, been a sham.

We're taking direct action as a last resort because we don't believe that the consultation has been a democratic process. This is the beginning of a campaign of direct action that will not cease until we feel we're being listened to and until we're satisfied that it's Londoners' views, rather than B.A.A.'s, that the government paying attention to.

Matthew Knowles from the Society of British Aerospace Companies made a statement to the B.B.C. that: "These stunts are becoming tiresome and do nothing more than peddle inaccurate propaganda."

The rooftop occupation comes two days after Greenpeace protesters scaled an Airbus A320 which had just touched down at Heathrow from Manchester, and follows a succession of direct action protests in the U.K. in relation to climate change.