Category Archives: Non Violent Direct Action

Manchester Airport protesters found guilty but vow to fight on

Speaking after the case, defendant Mark Haworth said, “The battle against airport expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick was won because ordinary people came together, joined forces and took on the aviation industry. We’ve linked up with residents in Manchester and Heathrow and we’ll continue to challenge Manchester Airport’s expansion plans.”

Fellow defendant Amanda Walters said, “The judge accepted that our concerns were legitimate and that other means of making our views heard had been tried. While the council continues to impose expansion of the airport onto local people, we will continue to fight it.”

A large part of the defence case focused on the ‘reasonableness’ of the action given that other methods of redress had been explored. The witness statements of Lib Dem Manchester Councillor Martin Eakins and Hasty Lane resident Peter Johnson was read out verbatim by the Defence Counsel Richard Thomas.

Hasty Lane is set to be demolished if plans to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport are allowed to go ahead.

In Peter Johnson’s written statement, he described his efforts to prevent his family home from being demolished, “We are now in a position where help and support from other areas in continuing to oppose the decision means that another route must be used if we are to halt this and/or further expansion already proposed or identified by the airport.”

Commenting on the verdict, Johnson said, “I’m disappointed for the individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty – for a cause we should all be worried about. This isn’t just a matter of concern for those of us living at Hasty Lane – the expansion of the Airport will have effects on the whole of Manchester, and the world too. Sadly, actions like these are seldom recognised as being right at the time, but the fight continues.”

In his statement, Martin Eakins described his close invlovement in the campaign to Save Hasty Lane, including making official representations to the Wythenshawe Area Committee, petitions and letters to national government; “I feel that all democratic avenues were exhausted and I think it is reasonable to say that the only way avenue to achieve carbon reductions through traditional politics in this case was closed,” the Court heard.

Mark Haworth and Amanda Walters were given a fine of £175 an £250 respectively plus were ordered to pay £460 in costs each plus a £15 ‘victim surcharge’ each. On Monday, nine other defendants involved in the protest pleaded guilty and received fines and costs averaging around £340 each.

A public campaign titled ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ is being run around the court trial and has received statements of support from local members of the public, local groups, academics, barristers, Independent journalist Johann Hari, and prominent national politicians such as Heathrow Labour MP John McDonnell, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith.
You can see all the current statements of support here:

In February 2010, residents at Sipson Village – which was earmarked for demolition if the previous government had pressed ahead with plans to add a third runway to Heathrow Airport – joined forces with Manchester campaigners in a ‘twinning’ ceremony, which joined Sipson with Hasty Lane, a row of houses near Manchester Airport currently set for demolition if expansion plans go ahead.

The trial of a second group who staged an airside blockade of a Monarach Airline jet at the same time as the roadside protest will commence in February 2011. Six defendants will plead not guilty to a charge of the aggravated trespass.


Hugo Blanco coming to Manchester soon….

Hugo Blanco was one of the key figures in the peasant uprisings in Peru during the sixties, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death but later thanks to a very high-profile international campaign was released to Sweden. The international solidarity campaign included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell….a bit before my time but very impressive all the same. After years in exile he returned to Peru, founded the Workers Revolutionary Party(over there they seem a lot saner than the very odd WRP UK factions) and he became a Peruvian senator.

More recently he was involved with a massive and successful direct action campaign with indigenous groups, helping them preserve the rain forests from huge transnational logging companies. Hugo Blanco is currently Director of a Cusco-based newspaper called Lucha Indígena. In October we are lucky enough to have him visit Manchester and he will be speaking at MMU as part of a Green Left/Socialist Resistance tour of the UK. I am really looking forward to meeting the man I have heard being referred to as the Peruvian Ecosocialist Che Guevara!

Morning Star article on Hugo Blanco


Friends of the Drax 29

Last summer 40 concerned citizens from all walks of life came together to stop a train containing 1,000 tonnes of coal on its way to Drax power station in Yorkshire. Drax is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and people felt that it was no longer sensible to rely on our government to sort this problem out(as their track record of burying their head in the sand has shown).

The train was stopped by several protestors waving red flags and wearing Hi Viz jackets. This happened on the line destined for Drax. 29 people boarded its roof, and shoveled the coal onto the line. They then dropped a banner saying ‘Leave It in the Ground’. All the correct safety procedures were planned in advance and adhered to minimize the risk of causing harm and disruption to anything other than Drax Power station.

The 29 people who boarded the train were arrested and are now standing trial in Leeds Crown Court. They are charged with ‘Obstructing the railway’ and could face up to 2 years in prison. Their trial started in Leeds, Monday 29 June 2009. The judge has ruled that they are prohibited from using Climate Change as a defence and the judge seems keen not to have a repeat of the Kingnorth 6 trial.

These people need and deserve our support over next couple of weeks. Non Violent direct action is not terrorism and shouldn’t be treated as such. We must protect our right to non violent protest; On a personal note, amongst these people are several much loved Manchester Activists(my friends) and other Climate Camp activists. Please do anything you can to get the word out.

Please invite all your friends to the ‘Friends of the Drax 29’ face book group and post message of support on the wall or go to Leeds Crown Court and peacefully protest(come suited and booted as requested!). They will be sending out updates as the trial proceeds.
If you’re interested, there’s an e-mail list that’s been set up to inform people as to what happens day by day in the drax29 trial; the list is called

To subscribe to it, e-mail