The recently formed Kernow and Plymouth Rising Tide groups banded together to occupy Newquay Airport last Saturday. The protest put a spotlight on the airport's focus on climate-wrecking short-haul flights, and drew attention to a recent report on the airport which shows that the economic case for expansion is unsound. (CLICK 'read more' TO SEE VIDEO)
We arrived at the airport on the bus. We weren't the most likely looking bunch, but as usual the place was pretty deserted and we were able to reach our chosen point to access the roof. However our ladder (from a kid's bunk-bed ) broke, leaving our birdman dangling comically. Luckily for us, the builders' shiny new ladder was unattended, so we used that one instead! The birdman regained his footing and five activists occupied the roof. We had two big banners reading: NO PUBLIC DEBATE, NO PUBLIC DEMAND, ALL PRIVATE GAIN and NO MORE HOT AIR ON CLIMATE CHANGE.
The five activists on the roof were supported with music, dancing and puppetry from the ground. We also had a media team and legal observer present.
The press got there before the police. We made local TV and radio headlines and expect good coverage in the local papers. When the police did arrive they were happy to let us have some coverage and even complete a TV slot before asking us to get down or get arrested. All in all it was a fantastic day, if a bit nippy! For the groups involved it was an energising, empowering experience.
We are also arranging a public meeting about the expansion plans ( St. Mawgan Community Hall 12.1.08 at 7pm. ) and are hoping to get representatives from Grounswell and the airport alongside ourselves.
Check out the BBC report on the action.
Press release sent out on the day:
Climate Activists Spotlight Newquay Airport
Climate activists from Rising Tide have occupied Newquay airport today. The demonstrators are calling for an immediate halt to expansion of the airport and a public debate on its future. With banners, leaflets and costumes - the peaceful protest calls attention to the airport as an obstacle to sustainable development in the County.
Aviation currently accounts for 13% of the UK's contribution to climate change and is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Newquay airport offers only domestic and short haul flights, condemned by MPs. Flying does ten times more damage to the climate than taking the train, while destinations served from Newquay are easy to reach by train or coach.
This year we have seen the worst flooding in decades, from central Africa and South Asia to Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. Meanwhile, Greece, Italy and California have struggled with bush-fires in tinder-dry conditions. Despite these warnings, delegates at the UN climate talks in Bali continued to resist meaningful cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Today's demonstrators are also alarmed following the conclusions of a recent report commissioned by Groundswell, which refutes the County Council's claim that Cornwall's future development depends upon expansion of the airport. The report concludes that the economic case for expansion of the airport is weak and that the airport's current operating deficit of around one million pounds per year is met by Cornwall County Council, through higher council tax or cuts in services.
In light of the imminent problems of climate change and peak oil it is crucial that local government invest in sustainable public transport. A recent report by Visit Scotland concludes: "A tourism economy without a sustainable transport policy and system means less tourism in the long term" 
Substantial public funds must not be invested in a project which would increase Cornwall's CO2 emissions and damage the local environment, under a plan which takes no account of rising oil prices. The expansion of Newquay airport must be stopped.
1. Rising Tide is a global network of local groups, taking action against climate change and building a movement based on social and environmental justice.
2. Expansion plans, backed by...
3. 13% - from Answer to Commons Parliamentary Question 2 May 2007.
5. The Battle of Newquay: Green lobby launches war to curb domestic flights
By Jonathan Brown and Ian Herbert
8. Newquay Airport Expansion The Case Examined
9. Groundswell is an independent group of Cornish decision makers
10. Newquay Airport Expansion: The Case Examined, Elizabeth Baines,
Commissioned by Groundswell Cornwall. Page 40.
11. Visit Scotland Research ( http://www.visitscotland.org),
Tomorrow’s World: Consumer and Tourist, vol. 2, no. 1, May 2006, page 12:
NB: Cornwall County Council became sole owners of the airport in 2004...
Newquay Airport Expansion: The Case Examined, Elizabeth Baines,
Commissioned by Groundswell Cornwall. Page 5.
NB: Rising Tide activists in Cornwall also took part in a recent national day
of action to highlight the climate impact of RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)
investments, RBS branded itself The Oil and Gas bank. The activists
appeared with banners and leaflets outside the RBS branch in Truro.
On Saturday 12th January a coalition of environmental groups held a Public Debate about Cornwall County Council's planned expansion of Newquay airport. Representatives from Groundswell Cornwall, Greenpeace, Rising Tide Kernow and Plane Stupid spoke at St. Mawgan Community Hall to a receptive audience of about fifty. Invitations had been sent to The Leader of the Council ( Mr. Whalley ) and to the Councillors responsible for both the environment ( Mr. Paynter ), and the economy ( Mr. Mitchell ).Unfortunately they were all too busy to defend the Council's position. We are disgusted that the Council chose not to attend the debate on this most urgent issue that affects us all. Cornwall County Council's decision to expand Newquay airport is globally irresponsible and a waste of taxpayer's money. It should be challenged by everyone who wants our children to inherit an earth worth having.
An e-petition against the airport expansion is now up and running and other plans are taking shape.