May 31, 2008 / 9:07 AM / 11 years ago

Campaigners rally against Heathrow expansion

LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of campaigners opposed to Heathrow’s proposed third runway marched in protest against the airport’s expansion on Saturday.

A British Airways passenger plane prepares to land at the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London March 28, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A coalition of local residents and environmentalists marched from Hatton Cross underground station in west London to the village of Sipson, where some 700 houses will be razed if the expansion goes ahead.

“A stream of people have been arriving since this morning”, Tamsin Omond, a member of the “Plane Stupid” group, told Reuters. The Metropolitan Police estimated 3,000 were at the rally.

In February, the “Plane Stupid” group scaled the roof of parliament to mark the end of public consultation on a third runway. It has threatened further direct action against government plans to expand Heathrow.

Prior to the start of the “Make a NOise Carnival”, letters of support from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and London Mayor Boris Johnson were read out opposing the expansion.

Campaigners plan to spell out a giant human “No” which they say will be visible from the air as MPs, local council leaders and environmentalists address the rally.

The government, business leaders and airport operator BAA say the world’s busiest international airport must expand or lose out to continental rivals, damaging the country’s economy.

But campaigners say expansion of British aviation makes a mockery of government plans to cut carbon emissions.

“The size of the runway is like putting Gatwick next to Heathrow and would emit the same amount of annual carbon dioxide emissions that Kenya does,” said Omond.

The public consultation over the expansion ended in February. The government is expected to make a final decision later this summer.

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Paul Majendie

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