It often isn’t easy to photograph some of the ideas that people have – and this occasion was one, with the Harmondsworth village green planted with over 750 small black airplanes and people holding 70 heart-shaped balloons with the message ‘No 3rd Runway’. There aren’t quite that many balloons in the picture, partly because a few had escaped into the sky, but also because quite a few of the protesters were standing behind me or to one side, some taking pictures themselves and others feeling shy. And a few people (and balloons) had escaped into the Five Bells behind me, where there were a number of balloons on the rafters.
But the real problem was one of scale – which is of course the main problem with Heathrow too. It started as a relatively small (and allegedly military) airport, though the military aspect was always a deception by the aviation lobby to enable a civil airport to be built here – which would probably never have got off the ground otherwise. By the 1980s it was clear that it should be replaced, but the government of the day chickened out – and so we never got the airport London needed, but had to suffer a huge and unsuitably placed expansion at Heathrow, with terminal 4 (promised as the last expansion the airport would ever ask for) and terminal 5 (ditto.)
As a local resident, I celebrated when plans for a ‘third runway’ (Heathrow began with six, but larger, heavier and noisier planes have made all but two unusable) were dropped, with a firm promise from then PM David Cameron and his party that this expansion would not take place, but the aviation lobby would not take his ‘No’ as an answer.
But there were other opportunities for pictures: Armelle Thomas, a Harmondsworth resident holding a photograph and the medals of her late husband Tommy who had flown as a rear gunner in Lysanders and later worked at Heathrow for BEA had brought the piece of the cake from last year’s protests which she had tried to present to Heathrow bosses but they had refused to see her;
John Stewart holding a giant cheque for ZERO pounds – the amount Heathrow want to pay towards the huge infrastructure costs that will be needed if the third runway ever goes ahead – and will be borne completely by the taxpayer;
several campaigners with boxes of empty promises – made by Heathrow over the years;
and what is still the only attempt at a practical solution to the huge problems of noise and pollution the extra traffic – in the air and on the ground – the extra runway would produce, the Heathrow Adobe Hat, complete with portable air purifier in a environmentally bio-diverse suitcase.
Apologies for all the typos that are in the captions to the photographs of the event at No 3rd Runway Heathrow 70th Birthday, which I will try and find time later to correct.
There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.
All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.