BAA Proposed Injunction ‘draconian’ – London Mayor

An attempt to ban environmental activists from protesting at Heathrow Airport during the busy holiday period could be quashed, if London Mayor Ken Livingstone has his way.

The British Airport Authority (BAA) has applied for an injunction during the week of August 14 through to August 21, where environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds could be stopped from going across parts of the rail and tube networks, sections of the M25 and M4 motorways and around the airport, for the duration of the protests.

“I regard BAA’s proposed injunction as serious infringement of civil liberties and an attack on the right to peaceful protest. It could have a significant impact upon London Underground operations,” said London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

“BAA did not consult Transport for London about this proposed injunction.

“Transport for London will be writing to BAA to demand that all reference to its property and services be removed from any such injunction and will oppose any attempt to restrict the lawful use of its public transport services in the courts.”

BAA insists that they have selected the one week in August in order to protect both the operation of the airport and safety of staff and passengers from “planned direct action by environmental activists” during one of the busiest periods in the summer holiday.

“During the summer holiday period up to 200,000 people pass through Heathrow daily including many families and children. It is these people who would suffer as a result of any unlawful or irresponsible behaviour aimed at disrupting the smooth operation of the airport,” the BAA responded in a statement.

The matter appeared in front of a High Court this Wednesday, August 1.

Protesters are calling the move “the mother of all injunctions” and liken BAA’s tactics to “legal bullying”.

If the application is successful, it is estimated that supporters of environmental groups – with some estimates quoting five million people – could be restricted by the injunction.

“It would obviously be unacceptable for any unrepresentative group to disrupt the journeys of holidaymakers and other passengers,” said Ken Livingstone.

“But any such groupings are a tiny minority, who should be dealt with using existing law and policing. Instead of protecting the public from anyone bent on violence or disruption, this injunction targets potentially millions of people.”

The court case continues.

Dana Gornitzki

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