Last weekend’s conference in Munich showed just how vibrant the European movement against airport expansion has become. On Saturday (22nd June) over 250 campaigners from across Europe packed the sports centre in the small town of Attaching, just outside Munich, sharing ideas and plan Europe-wide campaigns.
Ten years ago this sort of conference would not have taken place. There was little Europe-wide contact between grassroots campaigners.
But all that has changed over the past decade. Campaigners have been in regular contact with each other, building up a European network.
And success has followed. A third runway has been stopped at Heathrow. Plans for new airports in Siena and Viterbo in Italy have been abandoned. The residents of Munich voted against a third runway in a referendum last March. There is huge opposition to the proposed new airport for Nantes in Western France. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Berlin to protest against airport expansion. And, of course, every Monday night for the last 18 months thousands of people have occupied the airport terminal at Frankfurt to protest against the impact of the fourth runway.
People at the conference shared campaigning techniques, including an excellent session on the role of direct action, led by Plane Stupid.
But Saturday’s conference didn’t just hear stories of protest. There were experts talking about the climate change, noise and air pollution impacts of aviation. And a powerful talk from Alexander Mahler of the think-tank Green Budget Germany outlining the billions lost to the economy as a result of the tax-free fuel airlines enjoy.
The conference issued a manifesto. Key demands included an end to night flights and an end to the tax-free fuel aviation enjoys. These demands will form the basis of Europe-wide campaigns over the coming year.
Campaigners across Europe are forging links live never before. They are determined to see the aviation industry tamed.