Flights from Stansted airport were cancelled this morning after over 50 protesters from the climate action group Plane Stupid overcame security barriers and camped on the runway.
The group occupied the runway at 3.15am this morning while the runway was temporarily closed for maintenance work. The runway was scheduled to reopen at 5am, but remained closed until shortly after 8am.
"We're here because our parents' generation has failed us and its now down to young people to stop climate change by whatever peaceful means we have left," said one protestor, Lily, aged 21. "We're afraid of what the police might do to us, we're afraid of going to jail but nothing scares us as much as the threat of runaway climate change. We've thought through the consequences of what we're doing here but we're determined to stop as many tonnes of CO2 as we can."
Fifty seven people have been arrested and 56 Ryanair flights cancelled.
"No one can condemn this action without also condemning the recklessness of the government’s policy on airport expansion and the major contribution which the resulting emissions would make to global warming," said Stop Stansted Expansion campaign director Carol Barbone. "BAA’s full frontal attack on the community with its plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow today, with a 7km2 landgrab for a second runway destroying historic homes and villages, must also be condemned."
"Our own campaign has always been waged strictly within the law and we are pledged to continue to use all legal means to overturn the Stansted expansion plans. Nevertheless, today’s action by Plane Stupid must be seen in context against the backdrop of a continuous assault of the local community by BAA and by a government that claims to want to tackle climate change but seems determined to allow expansion of the airport."