Although the eviction of the Bollin Valley camps began in the early hours of May 20th, it wasn't until June 16th that tunneller Matt emerged from the Cakehole tunnel at Flywood camp (after seventeen days underground). This made it one of the longest site evictions on record; security for the site has been reported to have cost Manchester Airport PLC around œ7 million. The tactic of tunnel construction appears to have been even more thoroughly vindicated even than at the Fairmile protest.
Except from the first hours of the eviction when riot police are alleged to have assaulted a journalist and one protester, the eviction went almost without serious incident until a bit of the Cakehole tunnel mysteriously fell in on the hour that Matt was due to emerge. Unhappy coincidence or deliberate timing? We shall probably never know.
Coalition Against Runway 2 (CAR2) view the occupation of the Bollin as a resounding success. Unlike before the occupation, the environmental consequences of air transport are now widely comprehended. Is it just a coincidence that it is the UK government that is now pushing for a global tax on aviation fuel? We think not. Perhaps it was the Cakehole tunnellers getting a letter in The Times about this (having been underground for over a week!), or perhaps it was our international lobbying efforts on John Prescott.
CAR2 is now regrouping to see which tactics are most appropriate in our continued campaign against Manchester Airport's development plans, and around the theme of air transport generally. Some of the actions that CAR2 have organised over the past few months (for example, our April Fool on the national media when we claimed Swampy was standing for Parliament, our occupation of the Under-Sheriff's office, or our disruptions of the Airport's celebration dinner and of the AMEC AGM) have been praised for their ingenuity. I'd guess that CAR2 may still have one or two tricks up its collective sleeves. The campaign will continue for some time yet: the second runway is not due to be complete until the year 2000.
If you're interested in helping CAR2 further you can get in touch with us at Manchester FoE on 0161 834 8221. We plan to restart our Runway Walk series, starting again on Saturday 5th July, then fortnightly through the summer.
Colin Howden, Coalition Against Runway 2 (0161 834 8221)