Arrests After Stansted Climate Protests

More than 20 flights at Stansted have been cancelled after climate change activists broke into a secure area of the airport.

Protest group 'Plane Stupid' - who are objecting to the planned second runway at Stansted - began their demonstration at 3.15am, when they occupied a runway that had been closed for maintenance work.

The runway was closed for around two hours, as a precaution, but reopened at 8.10am. The protest caused the cancellation of 21 flights.

Essex Police also arrested 57 people.

A spokeswoman for the force said 50 people were accused of aggravated trespass, three of attempting to gain access to a restricted area, and four of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

In a statement, Plane Stupid said the disruption to flights will prevent "the release of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere".

A spokeswoman for Plane Stupid, a network of groups protesting against airport expansion, said the activists chained themselves together on the runway, and created a "fort" by surrounding themselves with security fencing.
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One of the demonstrators, Lily Kember, 21, said a total of 54 protesters were sitting down on a site where aeroplanes taxi before taking off and landing.

"It's a bit cold, but everyone is in good spirits," she said. "Being arrested is a terrifying prospect, but not nearly as terrifying as the threat of climate change."

Plane Stupid claimed aviation was the fastest growing source of emissions and already contributed to at least 13% of the UK's carbon budget.

Meanwhile, Irish budget airline Ryanair said it had to cancel 52 flights in and out of Stansted today, including services to Belfast, Dublin, Prestwick, Frankfurt, Oslo and Berlin.

The company issued a statement calling for an investigation "as to why the BAA Stansted security had once again failed to keep Stansted secure and open to the travelling public".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Steve Barton, BAA's commercial director at Stansted said he hoped the airport would be able to "recover quite well" from the impact of the protests, but added there would be knock-on delays.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman told a media briefing: "Of course everybody has a right to protest, but people also have a right to be able to travel without unnecessary hindrance."


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