Thursday, 6 April 2017

My new article published on The Ecologist website highlights a rural community's resistance to eviction for a major aerotropolis in Indonesia: Villagers resist eviction for 50 airport city on their land. Over a period of twelve years, ten villages and a vast area of farmland have been wiped from the map for construction of Kertajati Airport in West Java. But Sukamulya village remains. Residents have successfully blocked numerous attempts by officials to measure land for the airport. Tensions came to a head on 17th November 2016 as villagers gathered yet again to defend their land, and were met with 2,000 police. Teargas was fired and 12 protesters were injured.

Sukamulya villagers' resistance to eviction from their homes and productive agricultural land is recognized as one of Indonesia's key land rights struggles. The article includes a recent video of construction the airport amidst the farmland, and a video capturing just over a minute's coverage of the teargassing by police. The video below shows villagers gathered in the paddy fields, outnumbered by police, with the sound of teargas being fired and plumes of smoke rising in the background.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Mapping aviation expansion in Indonesia

Having long been interested in the use of digital mapping for innovative communications, integrating spatial information with text, images and other media, I took the plunge and developed the content for the Aviation Expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones and aerotropolis projects map. It includes 60 airports, operational and at various stages of construction and planning, plus two projects that have been cancelled. Land rights is a key issue and there are struggles and disputes relating to at least 25 of the airports on the map. There are many instances of state repression against people resisting eviction from their homes and farmland.

Screengrab of digital map:Aviation Expansion in Indonesia
Aviation expansion is closely intertwined with a massive government tourism drive, and several airport projects are linked with economic zones. Aerotropolis style development is planned around a number of airports, including Kulon Progo and Kertajati airports currently under construction in Java. The map was created for Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) using the Storymap app, which is creating quite a buzz in the geospatial community. The national context to the information in the digital map will be explored in a forthcoming in-depth report about aviation expansion in Indonesia, which will be published by GAAM in partnership with the Third World Network (TWN).

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Aerotropolis Update, Issue 3

Yet another post about aerotropolis developments, also referred to as 'airport cities'. These airport-centric developments are being planned and constructed worldwide. Here is the third issue of  'Aerotropolis Update', published by the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). The latest Update contains news of commercial and industrial development around 43 airports in 29 countries. Maps show the proposed land allocation for three projects: Nijgadh airport and aerotropolis in Nepal on an 80 square kilometre site, China-Belarus Industrial Park on a 95.5 square kilometre site adjoining Minsk Airport, and the 'Airport City Gatwick' business park on farmland to the north of one the UK's major airports.

Allocation of large areas of land is a key concern because of displacement of rural communities and loss of productive agricultural land and wildlife habitats. The Update contains information about resistance to two mega-airport projects: Ekiti airport in Nigeria, which was halted by landowners who, after bulldozers arrived and began clearing farmland without warning, filed a suit against land acquisition (see article in Ecologist - Nigerian farmers win High Court Victory in fight against Ekiti airport) and opposition to a second airport on the South Korean island of Jeju. Proliferation of airports cities around the world raises also raises economic concerns - high levels of government expenditure, and overlap with special economic zones offering tax breaks and other incentives.

Friday, 27 November 2015

2nd Aerotropolis Update

Yep, you guessed it, I'm going on about aerotropolis projects again, i.e. airport cities, the airport-centric developments that are being planned and constructed worldwide. Here is the second issue of  'Aerotropolis Update', from the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). The Update contains news of development around 46 airports. All regions of the world are covered but there is a special focus on Africa and Asia, where large greenfield sites are being allocated for these developments. 

Allocation of large areas of land is a key concern because of displacement of rural communities, land acquisition injustice and loss of undeveloped land that is either agricultural or a valuable ecosystem and wildlife habitat such as forests. Other key concerns are high levels of government expenditure, subsidies such as tax breaks and integration with other destructive megaprojects such as deep water ports, multi-lane highways, oil and gas projects and mega tourism complexes. This Aerotropolis Update is just a fraction on what is happening around the world. Information is already being compiled for Issue 3.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Another aerotropolis update

Its September and I'm getting round to posting about things that happened in July and August...

Epic ecocide continues for construction of Istanbul's third airport, but the campaign to stop the eco-massacre, and the integrated megaprojects - a canal and third bridge across the Bosphorus Strait - it is part of, is amazing. It is co-ordinated by Kuzey Ormanlari Suvanmasi (North Forest Defence), information about the third airport campaign is in this section, and there is some information in English here. The airport is actually a 'Trojan horse' for an aerotropolis, on a vast 77 square kilometre site. Here's my article in The Ecologist about it - Campaigners resist destruction of Istanbul forests and wetlands for airport megaproject. The article was also published by Truthout and here on the Kuzey Ormanlari Suvanmasi website, with three videos that provide an extraordinary record of what is taking place. It is rare for the reality of obliteration of ecosystems for a truly gargantuan megaproject to be exposed like this.

Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), the new organisation I am a founder member of, published the first issue of GAAM Aerotropolis Update, a round-up of aerotropolis developments around the world. It raises issues of large scale land allocation for aerotropolis schemes, and resistance against this, and subsidies such as tax breaks. Compilation of information for the second issue is underway. There is more content on the GAAM website now, some reports and articles that are critical of aerotropolis projects - hard to find in the deluge of industry information that presents these schemes as miraculous economic engines' for host communities, and some quotations from aerotropolis critics.

Plans for a mini aerotropolis have emerged right on my doorstep here in Yorkshire. An 'airport village' comprising shops, hotel, and and industrial park is planned on greenbelt land, currently used for farming, adjacent to Leeds Bradford Airport. As with all aerotropolis projects the objective of the commercial development is to support the airport's growth. Here is a blogpost about it on the GAAM website. And this a map showing the area in question (within the red line).

 I'm quite pleased with the GAAM logo - not bad for a couple of hours playing around on Powerpoint and a few graphics programmes. If you compare this logo with the standard aerotropolis schematic (a standardised template is used for aerotropolis projects worldwide) you might notice a crucial difference - aside from the no entry sign and the plane superimposed on the image.


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