Saturday, 24 January 2009

New flightpaths face resistance

Originally uploaded by RoseBridger
Unsurprisingly, London’s Heathrow Airport got the go-ahead for a third runway. Yet the mainstream media here in the UK hardly covers airport expansion anywhere else, even though all around the world there is opposition to be reckoned with, showing some success. Villagers and environmental campaigners succeeded in moving the site for a new airport in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, from its original site near the Bundala bird sanctuary, even though construction had started. A proposal for a new airport at Kampung Tekek in Malaysia could be cancelled for environmental reasons including risks to marine life.

In August 2008, protestors concerned about compensation for land, employment opportunities for locals and environmental impacts of expansion of Kisumu Airport in Kenya were constrained by riot police at the handover ceremony to the contractors. In Malindi, also in Kenya, 100 residents signed a memorandum to the Ministry of Lands demanding that certain conditions, including non-interference with ancestors' graves, be met before they would approve a new airport.

Many developments go ahead, without concessions or modifications, in spite of opposition from thousands of residents. A fourth runway for Frankfurt Airport in Germany has been approved, which will mean felling 100,000 trees. Frankfurt is already the world’s eighth biggest cargo airport, and planes to increase cargo volumes to 3.16 million tonnes by 2020. In Nagpur, India, 14 villages have been acquired for airport development, including 3025 hectares for a cargo hub and the usual maze of 6 lane roads and flyovers. Distressed farmers have been protesting over lack of rehabilitation and compensation for land. Whatever people think about airport expansion, nobody wants their village covered with concrete and tarmac, or to live under the flightpath.

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