Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Resistance to land grab for Taoyuan Aerotropolis megaproject


Here is my latest article for Ecologist: Taiwan: residents resist forced eviction for 'Aerotropolis' megaproject. Communities in Taoyuan, on the northern tip of Taiwan, are resisting enforced land expropriation for an ‘aerotropolis’ around the airport. The planned airport-centric commercial and residential development, predominantly on prime quality farmland, would displace 46,000 people, many of whom do not wish to leave their homes. Here are some photos from a few of the endless protests against compulsory land purchase:

On a rainy day, 17th December 2013, a large group of protesters marched with banners on a 'Blood Paperplane Protest'. Many of them wore yellow, the colour symbolising democracy. They threw paper planes spattered with 'blood' at the heavy police presence.

Blood Paper Plane protest against Taoyuan Aerotropolis, 17th Dec 2013, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

On 22nd June about 500 protesters marched to the Taoyuan government offices where they performed a repeated slow motion march walking a few paces then stopping to kneel and pray.

500 people marched against Taoyuan Aerotropolis on 22nd June 2014, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Two days later only a few representatives were admitted to a meeting about the Aerotropolis. Their requests for all affected people to be given a voice were denied and police dragged them out of the room.

Police remove protester from 24th June 2014 meeting, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

On 17th July a group of residents, mostly women, facing eviction for the project, held a demonstration outside a meeting discussing the project, explaining that the compensation offered would be insufficient to buy a comparable house.

17th July 2014 protest against land expropriation, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Yet another women-led protest took place on 29th July.

29th July 2014 protest against land grab for Taoyuan Aerotropolis, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

In November, protests against a land grab for Toayuan Aerotropolis took an artistic turn, as outlined in the previous post on this blog. The government supported the Taoyuan Land Art Festival, featuring grandiose installations such as the now famous ‘Moon Rabbit’ on a disused military base which form part of the planned Aerotropolis site.

Protesters at the Taoyuan Land Art Festival, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Protesters’ attempt to submit a petition at the opening event was denied and met with rough treatment by police; one woman was hospitalised. Residents facing the prospect of forced eviction and their supporters created an inspiring alternative, the Aerotropolis Land Art Festival, on some of the farmland earmarked for expropriation. Along with enjoying sculptures and other artworks, visitors could ‘strike back’ against the Aeotropolis demolition plans, by aiming wrecking balls at a model of the project, as shown in this video:

Demolishing a model of the aerotropolis at the art festival, video by Lee Sky

The art festival boosted the profile of the campaign and morale of affected residents just as battle lines are hardening in the lead up to the scheduled beginning of land expropriation for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis, in 2015. The government drives the project for corporate benefit as community resistance among the many people who do not wish to vacate their land, and their supporters, is strengthening. The Aerotropolis is the largest of the multitude of pending major land expropriations all over Taiwan, for development projects such as roads and industrial parks. Landowners often receive low levels of compensation, and the government effectively lines the pockets of construction firms, as, once the land is redesignated for commercial, industrial or residential development, its value rockets upwards.

A notorious case of flouting the democratic process occurred at the village of Dapu, in
Miaoli County in the northwest of Taiwan, as described in this article by J. Michael Cole. Four households held out against forced eviction, but police demolished their homes while their case was being discussed in court, including a pharmacy owned by Mr. Chang Sen-wen and his wife Peng Hsiu-chun. Most of their possessions were dumped in the mud in a nearby field.

Peng Hsiu-chun’s clothing and family photos retrieved from mud after her home in Dapu was demolished, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Outrage over the Dapu demolition incident triggered land justice protests throughout Taiwan involving 10,000 people. Two months later Chang Sen-wen was discovered dead in a ditch, and it is unclear whether he committed suicide. A court ruling in favour of the Dapu residents, stating that the demolition was unlawful, was a sign of hope for land rights reform.

Land expropriation for Taoyuan Aerotropolis is scheduled to begin in 2015. Hopefully, the strength of local opposition, with support from land rights, democracy and aviation campaigners around the world, can stop this ecologically damaging and socially unjust project in its tracks.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A tale of two Taoyuan land art festivals

A land art festival in Taoyuan ignored the plight of communities facing forced eviction for an 'aerotropolis' megaproject, so residents and their supporters have created an alternative festival to raise awareness

'Moon Rabbit' sculpture at Taoyuan Land Art Festival
'Moon Rabbit' sculpture at Taoyuan Land Art Festival
On 6th September about 150,000 people flocked to see a striking , 25 metre high, cartoon-like white rabbit sculpture, so pure white in colour that it does appear to have a glow in the dark quality. It was the opening day of the Land Art Festival in Taoyuan, on the northern tip of Taiwan and this ‘Moon Rabbit’, reclining against a disused military bunker and gazing up at the sky, was the main attraction. Inspired by Asian folklore of a white rabbit living on the moon making an elixir of immortality, it was created by Florentijn Hofman, a Dutch artist famous for other giant sculptures such as a wooden hippopotamus swimming along the River Thames in London and a rubber duck floating in Hong Kong harbour. International media picked up on the spectacle and photographs of the Moon Rabbit were broadcast around the world.

A defunct military base had been converted to a public exhibition space with art installations, workshops and many kinds of performances. The English language version of the Taoyuan Land Art Festival website brimmed with blurb about how the artworks celebrate the relationship between people and the land, for example claiming to ‘Promote the interaction and dialogue among natural environment, community cultural, historical and artistic context; raise awareness of ecological and geographical environment’. These statements seemed somewhat at odds with the aim of celebrating the festival site’s ‘special military history’. And the environmental theme of several exhibits jarred with a distinctly anti-ecological focus on the ‘unique man-made aviation landscape’

But there was a deeper irony to the Taoyuan Land Art Festival. The land it purported to celebrate, and a far larger area, has been earmarked by the government, to be bulldozed for development. Along with expansion of Taoyuan Airport, with a third runway and terminal, a sprawling airport centric megaproject, the Taoyuan Aerotropolis is planned – commercial, industrial and residential urbanisation around the airport, extending in phases over a total of 4,791 hectares (a hectare is about the size of a football pitch). The government plans to compulsorily expropriate most of the land - 3,707 hectares, predominantly prime quality farmland and hosting 15,000 houses and several schools. Approximately 46,000 residents face losing their homes and farmland. If the project goes ahead as envisaged it will be the biggest land expropriation in Taiwan’s history. Land seizures for Phase 1 of the project are scheduled to commence next year. While some residents have agreed to leave, it is important that the rights of those who wish to remain are not disregarded.

Forcible land expropriation is a key human rights issue in Taiwan, sparking many protests. Professor Shih-Jung Hsu, Chair of Taiwan Rural Front and a member of steering group of Taiwan Association for Human Rights, two organisations supporting residents affected by Taoyuan Aerotropolis and other development projects, explains that the government repeatedly abuses its powers of compulsory purchase. Land acquired by the government routinely exceeds the area required for the developments, the land is undervalued so evicted people receive minimal compensation, but re-categorisation of rural land as urban land raises its value significantly.

Moon Rabbit festival protest, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

The fact that images of a whimsical sculpture of a white rabbit were beamed around the world, whilst a mega infrastructure project being met with vigorous protest from communities facing displacement goes unnoticed, shows just how tame and trivial the mainstream media has become. The media also ignored a small, but significant, act of dissent at opening of the Taoyuan Land Art Festival. A small group of protesters arrived carrying a banner to attempt to submit a petition to a Taoyuan County Commissioner. Their request was rejected and they were brutally removed by police. One woman was injured and hospitalised. Shih-Jung Hsu appealed to Hofman to support communities facing eviction and help raise awareness. He also criticised the event organisers for not inviting local artists to participate, even though over $1.2 million in public funds were spent.

Police remove protester from Taoyuan Land Art Festival, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Woman injured by police, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

The action at the Moon Rabbit festival was the latest in a series of protests calling for fair and open hearings for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, to consider the views of residents who have been largely excluded from decision-making, and against forced eviction. There was a major demonstration on 22nd June 2014; 500 people – affected residents, activists and civil groups supporting them – marched through Taoyuan City Centre carrying yellow banners painted with slogans such as ‘Anti-Greed & Corrupt’, ‘ Anti-Eviction’, ‘Anti-Land Grab’, ‘Public Hearing’ and blocked traffic outside government offices.

22nd June 2014 protest, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

On 17th July 2014 a group of women who may face the prospect of forced eviction for Taoyuan Aerotropolis demonstrated outside the Construction and Planning Agency where a meeting was being held to review the project. They held up maps showing how the expansion of the airport and Aerotropolis development is encroaching on homes and farmland. Some of the women told the crowd that they had lived on the land for many generations, worked for 20 years or more to earn sufficient money to build their homes, and that the inadequate compensation offered by the government would be far too little to buy another house in the area.

Residents protest against eviction for Taoyuan Aerotropolis, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

The latest activism against forced land expropriation for the Aerotropolis is an alternative, community-based Aerotropolis Land Art Festival, running from 8th – 16th November. Created on farmland threatened with bulldozing for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis, a variety of artworks and events celebrate the land and communities threatened with obliteration. The event raises awareness of local people’s plight and helps to give them a voice, and draw attention to the threat of irrevocable loss of agricultural land and damage to ecosystems.

Buffalo sculpture, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Lost Bear sculpture, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

The focal exhibit is the Lost Bear sculpture. Of comparable scale to the Moon Rabbit it is as tall as a three storey house. Sitting forlorn in a field, the bear represents the confusion and distress residents feel when they face being uprooted.

Opening the Aerotropolis Land Art Festival, Photo by Coulloud, Creative Commons License

Alongside artworks there is a series of events including celebrating migratory birds and the threat posed to their habitat by a planned third runway, and screening of a film about the epic protests against construction and expansion of Tokyo’s Narita Airport on farmland. The alterative, innovative land art festival, in particular the Lost Bear, has certainly succeeded in capturing the attention of Taiwanese media, and deserves the international attention that was lavished on the Moon Rabbit.

The video below shows volunteers testing a bicycle route linking the exhibits and ponds on the site, aerial shots of some of the prime quality farmland that the government intends to expropriate, and people making sculptures – of a buffalo and the now iconic Lost Bear. At the end a supporter urges people to visit and show support for human rights. You can also can show support by ‘Liking’ the Aerotropolis Land Art Festival Facebook page, where you will find lots of wonderful photos and video clips.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Airports are waging a war against birdlife


Here is some additional information, with videos, to accompany my latest article for The Ecologist, about collisions between aircraft and birds (bird strikes). Since a serious air accident was narrowly averted in New York on 15 January 2009, when the pilot landed a plane in the Hudson River after geese were sucked into both engines on departure from La Guardia Airport, awareness of the risk to air safety has been heightened. The video below shows the moments immediately after it landed in the river, note the remarkable speed of the evacuation as the plane filled with water.


Yet for all the furore over the problem of bird strikes the fate of birds is rarely mentioned. Many thousands are killed every year, when they are sucked into planes' engines and leave blood smeared dents when they hit the nose, wings or fuselage of an aircraft. Birds can also be injured and killed by the jet blast from aircraft, as at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu, where the carcasses of two black kites and a spotted owl were discovered in March. These are just two of the 39 species of birds flying around the airport, at which there were 22 bird strikes in 2013 alone, and a fatal incident in 2012. Nineteen people were killed when a bird strike caused engine failure on a plane departing for the Mount Everest region. There have been many instances of large birds crashing through the windshield of small aircraft, splattering the pilots with blood. This harrowing video shows the moment when a Canada goose crashes through the windshield of a Cessna plane shortly after take-off from a small airfield in Illinois. Fortunately the pilot made a safe emergency landing and he and the co-pilot were unharmed.


Airports around the world have stepped up efforts to keep birds away from planes, deploying a bewildering array of methods: habitat management to make vegetation and water bodies unattractive to birds, and deterrence programmes such as loud noises, lasers and predatory falcons trained to frighten them away. But when these methods fail, or are inadequately implemented, airports frequently resort to culling birds. In the aftermath of the 'Hudson miracle' geese are culled over a wide radius around New York's main airports. The geese are shot or gassed. Another approach, preferred by many bird advocacy groups, is to coat goose eggs with vegetable oil to stop them hatching, undertaken at many airports including Winnipeg and Vancouver.

A non-lethal bird control method is to trap and relocate them. But this is only used for small bird populations, typically rare species which have been afforded legal protection. Since 2001, Sea-Tac Airport has successfully trapped and relocated 400 young raptors to an appropriate habitat in northern Washington. Boston Logan Airport traps and relocated snowy owls, and New Yorks's main airports were persuaded to adopt this approach in the light of a campaign against an announcement that wildlife officials would begin shooting snowy owls, after three bird strikes involving this species.


Another method used by some airports to kill birds is poisoning; An employee at New Plymouth Airport in New Zealand was appalled when he discovered that corn chips laced with poison were being laid out to kill birds considered a risk to planes, including sparrows. Video evidence of birds being poisoned emerged recently, when members of staff at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston witnessed the effects of United Airlines' poisoning pigeons and great-tailed grackles, in cooperation with Houston Airport System. Birds are shown suffered convulsions and it took up to an hour for them to die. The poisoning at Bush Airport was not a one-off, it takes place on an annual basis.



Smaller birds can also endanger flights. The video below was taken at Manchester Airport in 2007, at the start you can see a bird, a crow, being sucked into the engine. The plane made a safe landing but it appears that the airport began to take a more hostile approach to birdlife. In 2009 Manchester Airport informed that National Trust of its intention to shoot 800 rooks nesting in nearby woodlands, but announced a reprieve in response to a petition from local residents.



In May, the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) made an unsuccessful attempt to stop BAE Systems culling 1,100 black-backed gulls on the Ribble estuary, on the north west cost of England, in order to allay safety fears at nearby Warton Aerodrome. A judge ruled against an appeal, permission to kill the birds, almost one-fifth of the breeding population, was granted in addition to existing consents to cull 200 pairs of the same species of gull and 500 pairs of herring gulls. UK military airfields’ attitude to birds may harden further in the light of investigators’ confirmation that a fatal US Air Force helicopter accident on 7th January 2014 was due to a multiple bird strike. The helicopter crashed into saltmarshes in Norfolk, killing all four crew members. At least three geese crashed through the windscreen and another struck the nose of the plane.

New habitat management and deterrence methods only promise partial solutions to bird strikes. A system using low-frequency sounds, below the range of human hearing, to deter birds, has proved effective in tests. Hopefully,this will prove effective within airport sites, but it is unlikely to be feasible over the far larger areas where birds pose a risk to aircraft, on the take-off and landing flightpaths. 3-D printed robotic replicas of birds of prey - eagles and falcons - to frighten away target species. Again, this will only be effective in the immediate vicinity of runways.

It is clear that new airports must not be located near major bird habitats and migratory routes. Devastation of birdlife is a key factor in vigorous opposition to proposals for a new airport in London's Thames Estuary and on forested land to the north of Istanbul, where construction has commenced and a recent protest was met by riot police. In other instances, sanity has prevailed. The Georgian government has abandoned plans for an airport on marshlands in Poti and, construction of an airport in Nakuru, Kenya, has been stalled in recognition of the risk to air safety and birdlife including storks, pelicans and flamingos, as shown in the video below.



Birds do pose a risk to air safety, but, as explained in the article, the war that is being waged against them by airports is an over-reaction. The vast majority of stricken planes land safely and only a small proportion of serious air accidents are due to bird strikes. Airports should make every effort to keep birds away through habitat modification and deterrence, before resorting to culling, and more air accidents can be prevented by focussing on programmes to address the mechanical failures and human errors which lead to a far greater number of accidents and fatalities.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

UK Airports Commission consultation - Thames Estuary airport


Below is my response to a consultation by the UK Airports Commission on proposals for a new major airport in the UK, in the Thames Estuary. Here are links to three websites with a wealth of information, campaigning against the proposed airport, which would be environmentally devastating to a globally important wildlife habitat and enormously expensive.



Rose Bridger
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
email: rosebridger@gmail.com

22nd May 2014

Airports Commission
Inner Thames Estuary feasibility studies: call for evidence

I am writing in opposition to proposals for new airport in the Inner Thames Estuary. The project would result in serious and irrevocable environmental damage, most importantly drastically increased greenhouse gas emissions, and also detrimental impacts on local ecosystems. The project would be enormously expensive and the purported economic benefits are exaggerated and unlikely to materialise.

The UK should not be increasing airport capacity because of the high level of greenhouse gas emissions from air transport. Also, our country’s greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are disproportionately high. The UK population already flies more than the vast majority of other nations, an average of over two return flights per capita, exceeded only by a small number of remote island nations. In order to allow poorer countries, where the majority of people have never flown, to benefit from the speedy connectivity brought by aviation, whilst reducing overall global emissions from the sector, the UK should be aiming to stabilise, even contract, our airport capacity. A new airport of the planned scale would be the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK, making it far more difficult, perhaps impossible, to meet our emissions reduction targets.

At a time of prolonged austerity, with cuts to welfare and services hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest, London citizens have already footed the £3 million bill for feasibility studies and promotion of the proposed airport, and this cost is now set to increase to £5 million. If the new airport is actually built the estimated costs have already escalated to £148 billion, much of which would fall on taxpayers. The main beneficiaries of air services would be the wealthy, who fly more than the poor, benefiting disproportionately from the tax breaks bestowed on aviation, from tax free fuel, other tax exemptions such as VAT on ticket sales. Purported economic benefits for the wider community are also thrown into doubt because of the entrenched trend of outbound visitors outnumbering inbound visitors, so the net effect from aviation driven tourism is a drain on the UK economy.

If a new airport is built in the Thames estuary, there is the risk that it will be underutilised or languish empty as an embarrassing white elephant. Montreal Mirabel was built as a new airport for the city, but was never fully utilised then mothballed. In Spain, there are two recent examples of taxpayers forking out for unused airports: Castellon and Ciudad. Several UK airports are not meeting their traffic increase targets and are making losses, including Cardiff and Glasgow Prestwick, both of which have been brought back into public ownership. This does not inspire confidence in the economic viability of a major new airport. The recent closure of Manston Airport in Kent, after making heavy losses, indicates the very opposite of a capacity crisis in the south of England.

Furthermore, there is the risk of significant cost over-runs on such large construction projects, which are not uncommon. Recent examples include Qatar’s Hamad Airport, the new Islamabad Airport, Kuala Lumpur Airport’s new low cost terminal and the fiasco of Germany’s new Berlin Brandenburg Airport where the opening date, already more than 2 years behind schedule, keeps getting pushed backwards and the costs spiralling upwards from the original $2.7 billion estimate.

A key argument made by the Thames Estuary airport’s proponents is that the UK requires a massive expansion in airport capacity in order to compete in the global economy. But, with existing capacity, in particular at Heathrow Airport, the UK already has the best international air connectivity in the world. Existing air capacity for long haul flights, the most difficult to replace with surface transport, could be utilised more effectively with an end to domestic flights and reduction in short-haul flights. Furthermore, the economic case for aviation expansion rests heavily on supposed ‘catalytic’ benefits, but all industries work with other businesses and can attract firms to an area. A high degree of investment and infrastructure provision in one area, of the type envisioned by the airport proposal, brings the likelihood that a considerable proportion of the economic activity will merely be displaced from elsewhere.

Aviation does not in itself make businesses more innovative or entrepreneurial, and we should enabling a transition to a lower carbon economy, an important aspect of which is reducing the environmental impact of transportation of goods. There are some successful initiatives for reducing business travel by replacing it with videoconferencing, such as programmes run by the WWF, and initiatives such as this should receive a higher level of support.

An airport on the Thames Estuary would have devastating, irreparable ecological impacts on a globally significant habitat for many species, most importantly hundreds of thousands of year-round and migratory birds. The area is also one of the few remaining habitats for many mammals such as water voles and rare species of bees. A number of Natura 2000 sites, an EU-wide network of nature protection areas, would be seriously affected.

In addition to land reclamation obliterating vast areas of habitat, remaining birds would be at risk from efforts to deter them from operational areas and flightpaths in order to reduce the risk of bird strikes, collisions with aircraft. It is estimated that the risk of bird strike for a Thames estuary airport could be 12 times higher than at the UK’s existing airports.

In the aftermath of the ‘Hudson miracle’ when a plane afflicted by a bird strike to both engines made a safe landing in the Hudson River, New York’s airport began to kill thousands of Canada geese, extending several kilometres away from the airport site. Now other species such as mute swans are on the kill list. Airports around the world are adopting a similar zero tolerance approach to bird life and are stepping up bird culling programmes. Yet, at New York’s airports, the mass killing of birds has failed to reduce the number of bird strikes. Even if an airport in the Thames Estuary adopts the most aggressive bird elimination programme, it is possible that the risk of a bird strike will still be significantly higher than at other UK airports.

I am pleased to add my voice to the wide range of community and environmental organisations that are vigorously opposing this airport project.

Rose Bridger

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Website for the book - 'Plane Truth'

Here is a screenshot of the homepage of the website for my book - PlaneTruth.net. Its already packed with information, I will be adding lots more content, and I hope it will be useful:
  • A resources page with information about some books on aviation and transport issues, in-depth reports on a wide range of issues (mostly by NGOs), links to aviation industry organisations and trade press 
  • Links to just a few of the campaign groups around the world that are opposing unsustainable aviation expansion
  • My articles and blogs on the theme of aviation
  • Contents of the book and a synopsis (which ended up being quite long...)
  • Praise for the book and reviews
Plane Truth website - screenshot

The book was published by Pluto Press in October 2013. Do check out their website - you can browse an amazing range of excellent books.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Manchester Airport encroaches on green space


Almost three weeks ago my article  Manchester Airport - the concrete shadow spreads was published on The Ecologist website. Construction projects connected to Manchester Airport: an Enterprise Zone, a 9,000 space car park and a link road to the airport encroach on green space, including land that was formerly designated as ‘green belt’, a buffer area to prevent urban sprawl over remaining countryside. Here are the main issues raised in the article, and more photos.

Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone consists of multiple sites, and the aim is to provide warehouse and office space for firms that are dependent on air services, boosting air traffic. Businesses will be given substantial tax breaks, in particular a business rate discount of £275,000 for each eligible business over a five year period. No doubt firms will move to the Enterprise Zone for the tax breaks, and jobs will be relocated rather than created. If the Enterprise Zone falters, failing to attract sufficient tenants, there may well be pressure to extend government preferential treatment for it. 

construction work for Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone
Earthworks for World Logistics Hub, part of Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone, photo by Jonathan Gatward

Drainage system for World Logistics Hub, part of Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone. Photo Jonathan Gatward
I visited the site of the World Logistics Hub development, the southernmost site of the Enterprise Zone. Earthworks were underway, with recent flooding indicating just how challenging drainage will be. Hedgerows and trees, including oak trees, were being felled. This is not the first incidence of felling oak trees. In March 2013, centuries old trees were destroyed to make way for the World Logistics Hub. The trees were removed even though it was the nesting season, so birds’ eggs might have been destroyed as well. 

site of new 9,000 space car park being built at Manchester Airport
The site of the new 9,000 space car park at Manchester Airport
A new 9,000 space car park, to serve Manchester Airport, is being built on Moss Nook, green space at the end of a runway that was previously a ‘public safety zone’, with development restricted to minimise the number of people in the area as most air accidents occur at landing or take off. Again, you can see the aftermath of recent heavy rains with flooding in the area. Planes fly low over fields and houses. If a plane should crash here, or in the event of a runway excursion, the explosion risk from the aircraft would be compounded by collision with thousands of cars’ petrol tanks. 

A new road, a 10 kilometre stretch of dual carriageway between Manchester Airport and the A6 at Hazel Grove, is planned. The road would increase traffic pollution and cut through green space, including green belt land, in three local authority areas: Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire East. Already, Stockport Council has granted planning permission in spite of vigorous opposition from residents including letters of objection and a petition with more than 2,200 signatures. The road is presented as a 'relief road', a scheme to ease traffic congestion, but the real purpose is to enable growth at Manchester Airport. The campaign group PAULA (Poynton Against Unnecessary Link-Roads To The Airport) has highlighted the environmental damage that would result, including to a 1,000 year old bluebell wood.

The car park and ‘relief’ road show that the airport’s expansion plan prioritises motor vehicles, but a cycle path running adjacent to the link road will provide thin veneer of green garnish. Cycling alongside a dual carriageway, breathing in high concentrations of traffic fumes is not appealing. Airport passengers, carrying heavy suitcases, will not make much use of it. All but the lightest types of air freight will be transport by truck, not by bicycle.

The entire airport centric development, the Enterprise Zone, car park and new road, supporting increasing traffic at Manchester Airport and aviation dependent firms, and increasing road traffic, is incompatible with Manchester City Council’s commitment to building a low carbon economy. Developments of this kind work against efforts to meet the target of reducing emissions by 48 per cent by 2020.

 



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