Possible Immediate Evictions Despite Legal Eagles at Arthur's Wood

Protesters opposing the chopping down of "Arthur's Wood" for an "obstacle limitation service"(!) for Manchester Airport's second runway won the right to appeal at the high court of justice in London. The appeal was heard on the 5th February. The basis of the legal case is that it is illegal for the National Trust (owners of the woodland) to permit work on any of their land if the work does not improve that land, and that it is highly questionable whether Manchester Airport PLC will be allowed to evict protesters who live on land that is not owned by them.

The protestors lost the appeal, by 2 votes to 1 and are now seeking leave to take their legal challenges to the House of Lords. However, they are concerns that the camps will be evicted before the challenges are heard. Therefore, any help people can give in resisting the evictions is welcome - see contact details.

The Green Party has issued a stern warning of the potential consequences of premature action by the Airport. Secretary of Greater Manchester Green Party, Dr Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, said: "Our legal officer Chris Maile now has three barristers working on this case. But we're not sure how long it will be before the case goes before a judge who would decide whether or not the Lords will hear an appeal. But we want the Airport management to understand that if they send the troops in, an appeal to the House of Lords will still be sought anyway. And with three barristers preparing the appeal case, we are confident of success. And if the Airport evicts before legal process has been exhausted, the Green Party's legal officer will seek colossal damages from the Airport company."

Emboldened by the Court of Appeal's split decision - Lord Justice Chadwick found strongly in favour of the Green case - the Greens are highly confident that the Lords could overturn the earlier decision. The barristers who will represent Green Party legal officer Chris Maile will be deploying additional legal arguments which are believed to substantially strengthen the Green case.

Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, formerly the party's national spokesperson on air transport who was twice arrested during the evictions of 1997, added: "This issue is simply not going to go away. Aviation is still the world's fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, is still a major destroyer of the ozone layer, and is more of a problem now than it was two years ago. The EU Transport Directorate has publicly admitted that there are no technofixes, as the rate of growth of the industry is outstripping technological improvements. And anyway, the envisioned fleets of High Speed Commercial Transports will cause even more damage both to the ozone layer and through the greenhouse effect. In the next few years we will see the introduction of carbon taxes, which will inevitably reverse the growth of the aviation industry. That alone is a good enough reason for halting projects like Runway 2."

Meanwhile Arthur's Wood is a hive of activity, and the protesters are urgently appealing for more people and materials to strengthen their defences against the possibility of a dawn offensive on Tuesday 9 March.

Background Information

Arthur's Wood camp was established in June 1998 and is occupied by a small group of committed activists, who will defend the trees using nonviolent direct action, if the National Trust and Manchester Airport PLC do not back down. A new vegan site has been set up to stop another beautiful piece of Arthur's ancient woodland from coming under the chainsaw. The wood has a wide variety of mature trees including Giant Redwoods, Oaks, Beach and many other species, providing a natural habitat for centuries.

As part of "Doing It Up North", a joint action by the region's EF! groups, protesters occupied the offices of Amec on Monday 18 January. Amec are involved in the construction of the second runway and the destruction of Arthur's Wood. The company learnt to be aware of power-dressed executives who have mates with dreadlocks, when a couple of apparently respectable business visitors let in about 50 activists through the window! Three people were arrested on suspicion of theft but later released as nothing had been taken. The protest was deemed a success by everybody.

In order to save Arthur's wood, help and support is needed. Visitors are very welcome and donations of food, warm clothing, rope, wood and so on are gratefully received.

Visiting

Get a bus or train to the airport then walk towards the Cargo Centre and out onto the A538. Go down the A538 towards Wilmslow and turn off at the roundabout onto the Styal Road. Immediately turn right towards the Moathouse Hotel. Follow the bridlepath on the left hand side to the camp.

Contact Details

Arthur's Wood camp (07957 993 456, 01565 873 551, pp3mo@aol.com)
Transport to camp from Manchester / evictions latest: 0161 226 3446
Legal campaign: Chris Maile (01942 513792)
Ecology and economics of air transport: Spencer Fitz-Gibbon (0161 225 4863) or Manchester Friends of the Earth (0161 834 8221, office@manchesterfoe.org.uk)