BAA wins ban against climate change activists

BAA has obtained an injunction against protests planned at Heathrow Airport.

The airport operator secured an injunction against direct action protests at the airport, claiming this risked disrupting passengers and staff.

However, the company’s more draconian demands, which would have prevented peaceful protestors approaching the airport, were thrown out by Mrs Justice Swift.

Civil liberties groups had strongly objected to the original terms of the injunction, with many pointing out Prince Charles, as president of the National Trust, would technically have been barred from the Piccadilly Line.

Sitting at the High Court, Mrs Justice Swift agreed to a more limited injunction to prevent the “serious and damaging” consequences of direct action. She also raised concerns the disruption surrounding the protest could have enabled terrorist activities.

Under the injunction the campaign group Plane Stupid has been barred from attending the eight-day Camp for Climate Change. The group has a history of direct action and BAA persuaded Mrs Justice Swift it could blockade the airport.

The injunction was launched under the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act, originally intended to help the victims of stalking.

BAA was originally accused of trying to prevent five million people using the roads and public transport around the airport.

Mrs Justice Swift said today the injunction was modest, although its precise terms have not been finalised.

She said: “I am satisfied that the terms of this injunction are no wider than necessary to provide proper and effective protection to the claimants.”

BAA’s solicitor Tim Lawson-Cruttenden said the airport was only planning to use the injunction against “those who wish to act unlawfully”.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) was satisfied the High Court rejected the original injunction.

Gita Parihar, lawyer for FoE, said: “The judge’s decision sends a clear message to BAA that they cannot use their corporate muscle to stop people from engaging in lawful, peaceful protest on issues such as climate change.”

Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Susan Kramer said she was relieved the judge had thrown out the most extreme parts of the injunction.

She criticised BAA for using heavy-handed methods against the camp, which is designed to educate people about climate change and oppose airport expansion.

Ms Kramer said: “The company must learn to listen to the legitimate concerns of long-suffering residents who are becoming more and more angry at Heathrow’s ever-increasing impact on their lives.”

The Camp for Climate Change will be held outside Heathrow from August 14 to 21. Heathrow was chosen as the location for this year’s camp as flights from the airport emit 31 million tonnes of CO2 a year.