Greenpeace leads gambit to block Heathrow runway

Environmental pressure group Greenpeace is spearheading a move to block plans to build a third runway at London's Heathrow airport by buying up the land where it would be built.

Those who favour a new runway say expansion is essential if the facility is to remain a major transport hub and argue that transfer passengers will find it easier to use other European airports if capacity does not grow.

The opposition claims a third runway goes against the UK's stated commitment to reversing the effects of climate change by reducing CO2 emissions.

Greenpeace has teamed up with celebrities such as Alistair McGowan and Emma Thompson to buy up the land north of the existing runway and has vowed to make it as hard as possible for airport operator BAA to get its hand on.

In all likelihood Government, should it approve plans for a third runway, would have used compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to obtain the land before passing it on to BAA, regardless of ownership.

But Greenpeace claims its move is more than symbolic and remains confident it can certainly slow down the process and quite possibly derail it.

"They can try [to use CPOs]," a spokesman for the group told edie.

"Our lawyers are looking into how they can make it very difficult for them. We've been taken to court by the Government several times and we have a habit of winning."

He said one strategy that was being considered was to share the land ownership between as many individuals as possible, thus creating a hard-to-follow paper trail.

He also said that if an innuit leader, people from Micronesian islands or others on the front line of climate change impacts owned the land.

As their way of life and homes depend on the halting of climate change, they might have a legal argument that they had a greater need for the land not to be developed than BAA has for the runway, thus rendering compulsory purchase impossible, he argued.

"I don't think this runway's being built," said the spokesman.

"Even if they do compulsory purchase, we're going to be there stopping the bulldozers."

Sam Bond




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