Sunday, December 14, 2008

Growing Unrest in the Communities

Plane Stupid's action resulting in the closure of Stansted on Monday, agree with it or not, has once again highlighted the strength of feeling and growing movement against aviation expansion. It was interesting to see that some of the media turned it into a class war. No doubt a helping hand came from the aviation industries PR mercenaries. However they know the truth - this isn't anything to do with a class war at all. Anti expansion campaigners come from all walks of life and are spread across the age ranges. This is more than evident in East and South East London in the campaign against the expansion of London City Airport.

What we all know from history, is that every single group who challenges politicians or big business, no matter how valid their challenge is, get attacked: attempts to discredit, intimidate, smear and threaten them by those whom find them the greatest threat is all part of the aviation industries war against growing objectors. What is interesting however is that these attacks are almost none existent by those in the general public - whether they agree with expansion or not. Instead they all tend to emanate from those connected to, or those involved in the aviation industry. It is hardly an appealing characteristic. They are simply a bunch of blinkered NIMBY's.

The saddest feature of this, is that those who feel threatened by anti expansion campaign groups often result to personal tactics - they seem devoid of considering the bigger picture, or the ability to have a debate. The best comments they seem to come up with are that 'you chose to live under a flight path': they don't mention that flight paths have grown, nor that flight paths that were not used are now being used, nor that air traffic has expanded to a point of detrimental effects over 70% of the UK. Nor do they consider that residents often pre-date airports, or the expansions, or that some residents simply do not have a choice in where they live. They ignore the noise, the effects on children's development, the effect on peoples cardiovascular systems, respiratory systems and the effect on climate change. These pro aviation individuals avoid just about every issue that effects our daily lives as a result of the ever intruding feature of roaring jets.

There is indeed a stereotype to the aggressive comments that are often made by the real NIMBYs who support aviation expansion, but just by chance don't happen to live under a flight path, or have the economic mobility to make sure they never have to endure the effects of the activities they support growing. We are sure that whilst airport bosses get chauffeured in from their homes outside of the noise contour zone, and fly out on a private jet it can be guaranteed they don't think for one minute about: the children in Drew Road School, Silvertown who are struggling with concentration and reading, the residents whose asthma has grown progressively worse with the airports growth, or those parents who have lost a child under 30 due to asthma (Newham has the highest mortality rates in England in under 30s) or the contribution to greenhouse gases.

No, they are concentrating on far more important issues such as how to make more money for shareholders like Credit Suisse and General Electric and their own emperors coat.