Activists condemn court ruling against peaceful protest against Virgin Atlantic's push for biofuels

Sep 18, 2009

Members of Action Against Agrofuels and Plane Stupid are dismayed at today's court decision to fine eleven activists nearly £3000..- in total for holding banners during a peaceful protest against Virgin Atlantic's push for aviation biofuels on 22nd June.

Members of Action Against Agrofuels and Plane Stupid are dismayed at today's court decision to fine eleven activists nearly £3000..- in total for holding banners during a peaceful protest against Virgin Atlantic's push for aviation biofuels on 22nd June. The eleven were arrested on 22nd June 2009 after an action at Heathrow’s Terminal Three during celebrations of Virgin Atlantic’s 25th birthday party. Activists wanted to highlight Virgin’s plans to replace conventional aviation fuel with destructive biofuels, allowing the industry to expand. The action involved two men, dressed as stewardesses, standing on top of the entrance to the Virgin complex at Terminal 3. Outside more activists, also dressed as stewardesses, unfurled a banner reading, “Aviation Industry: no way out” and “Climate Criminals Inside”.

After fiften minutes chatting to passengers and displaying the banner, police and FIT (Forward Intelligence Team) arrived. The police spoke to demonstrators while the FIT team filmed and photographed before asking the activists were asked to move on. Police then claimed that if they took down their banner and gave their name and addresses they would be free to leave the premises. Nine of the activists complied after a short deliberation. These activists were soon surprised as the police reversed their decision, arresting the nine activists for breaching Heathrow Bylaws.

Hannah McClure, one of the arrestees says “I’m still in shock after assurances that we wouldn’t be arrested by the police, and we’re now being taking to court for peacefully expressing our criticism of aviation industry and Virgin’s investments in biofuels.” Laura McFarlane Shopes expressed, “I just can’t believe that we have been taken to court and actually fined for holding a banner to inform citizens about Virgin’s actions. The idea that biofuels will play any part in the solution to climate change is farcical as well as the charges being brought against us. The aviation industry knows that if we are to stop irreversible climate change then we need to make some serious changes. These charges will not stop concerned citizens taking action to makes the changes this country needs.”