Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

Axe the Draxosaurus – 2016

Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Axe the Draxosaurus – On Wedesday 20th April 2016 environmental activists protested outside the AGM of Drax Plc at Grocer’s Hall next to the Bank of England in the heart of the City of London. Drax power station near Selby in Yorkshire used to be the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station, but since 2012 has become the world’s biggest wood-burning plant, and the company Drax Plc has become the second largest producer of wood pellets in the world

Axe the Draxosaurus

Drax power station now emits more CO2 than any other plant in the UK, and it does so with the aid of a huge subsidy from our UK electricity bills, almost £1 billion in 2021.

Axe the Draxosaurus

It get subsidised by the UK Government as part of the plan to decarbonise electricity generation despite the evidence from scientists around the world that the burning of forest wood for energy increases carbon emissions and is incompatible with the attempt to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Axe the Draxosaurus

The subsidies that Drax receives increase our electricity bills and should be going to expand truly renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar energy. Instead they are paying Drax to pollute and pay out large dividends to their shareholders.

Axe the Draxosaurus

Sourcing the wood to burn at Drax – and for them to sell to other wood-burning plants is also a social and environmental disaster. Much of the wood comes from Drax’s pellet mills using large mmonoculture pine plantations in Southeastern USA, large sterile forest areas with little or no wildlife which have been expanded greatly in area, in part by the total clearance of areas of ancient forest.

Also in the USA, Drax buys pellets from Enviva, the world’s largest pellet producer which has come under criticism for its clearcut felling of US coastal hardwood forests.

Drax has also been criticised by environmentalists for its clear cutting of ancient forests in Canada, and its Portuguese supplier of pellets has been found to have sourced trees from nature reserves. And logging for wood pellets for Drax is also destroying ancient forests in Estonia and Latvia.

The amount of wood burned at Drax is huge – 6.4 million tonnes in 2022 – and will have involved the cutting down of twice that mass of trees. It is more than the entire UK wood production – but only supplies less than one hundredth of our energy needs.

Drax is now attempting to claim further subsidies for its BECCS (Bioenergy With Carbon Capture And Storage) project which seems very unlikely to be able to capture any significant amount of its huge annual CO2 output. It would obviously be far better simply to stop burning wood and turn to truly renewable power sources.

The protest in 2016 was organised by Biofuelwatch on whose web site you can find more a detailed briefing about Drax and why it is vital to end the subsidies for its polluting and environmentally destructive activities.

You can find information on the Axe Drax page about the trial of the #DRAX2 arrested after paint was sprayed on the government department supporting the subisdies to Drax – it begins at Southwark Crown Court on April 22nd 2024. And on August 8-13th 2024 Reclaim the Power is holding a mass protest camp for climate justice “targeting Drax – the biggest emitter in the UK, the world’s biggest burner of trees and a key driver of environmental racism.”

Drax AGM Biomass opposition


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International Rebellion – Shut Down London 2019

Monday, April 15th, 2024

International Rebellion – Shut Down London: Monday 15th April 2019 was the start of Extinction Rebellion’s International Rebellion which lasted for 11 days. They had said they intended to keep the roads closed until the government took necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency. They said the government must tell people the truth about the disaster we are facing, halt biodiversity loss, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and set up and be led by a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

International Rebellion - Shut Down London

Of course the government did nothing of the sort, but simply issued a number of intentionally misleading statements claiming they were world leaders in combating climate change and waited for the protesters to go home.

International Rebellion - Shut Down London

It’s not quite true they did nothing. They put increasing pressure on the Met Police to do something effective against the protesters, and later introduced some draconian laws that could be used against future protests like this.

International Rebellion - Shut Down London

Five years later every week brings more evidence that climate change is really happening and our government still fails to take this seriously, issuing licences for further fossil fuel exploration. What we need is urgency but what we see is complacency.

International Rebellion - Shut Down London

XR’s ‘International Rebellion’, with actions around the world as well as in London was just one of a whole long series of protests, international conferences, scientific papers and more over many years that have warned that the world is heading for catastrophe. Svante Arrhenius first warned that the increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to global temperature increase back in 1896.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, when I first became interested (and spoke publicly though very few were listening) our main emphasis was on resource limitations and population growth. It was by then very clear that anyone who thought we could continue our exponential economic growth on a finite planet had to be an economist and not anyone living in the real world.

But both our major political parties (and most of the minor ones) are still committed to growth while paying lip-service to ‘net zero’. And that growth will be dirty growth, continuing to exploit our oil and gas resources as well as clear cutting forests elsewhere in the world to burn their wood.

I think it is more a failure of our political system, very much a top-down system designed to protect the interests of the wealthy, than of individual politicians. XR’s call for a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice is an important one which would work from the bottom up and produce policies which were based on the interests of all of us – which is why it will almost certainly never be implemented.

While they went home after 11 days having failed to change government policies, these protests were impressive and did I think have some effect in changing public opinion, awakening more to the desperate situation we are now in. Even some of those working for the media if not their proprietors.

XR’s call to rebellion stated “Our leaders have failed us. It’s time to rebel – and have a damn good time doing it.” And for those eleven days they put on an impressive festival, but it was only a start of what need to happen.

Over those eleven days I went to XR’s events in London on several days, taking many pictures and writing about what I saw of this impressive protest. The pictures here all come from the first day, Monday 15th April 2019 and here are links to all my posts from that day – not all XR.

Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Save Lambeth Children’s Centres


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Children’s Blood and Women Rise – 2019

Saturday, March 9th, 2024

Children’s Blood and Women Rise – On Saturday 9th March 2019 Extinction Rebellion covered the road at Downing St with fake blood in a protest calling for a future for children and women marched through the West End in an annual protest against male violence.


Blood of Our Children – XR – Downing St

Children's Blood and Women Rise

Two processions converged from both directions on Whitehall outside Downing Street, each led by children carrying posters with the message ‘Our Future, Our Blood’ along with a person ringing a bell.

Children's Blood and Women Rise

The children were followed by people in single file carrying buckets of fake blood prepared to be arrested to draw attention to the need for urgent action to avoid the otherwise inevitable extinction of human life on Earth. They were followed by a crowd of other Extinction Rebellion supporters.

In front of Downing Street those carrying buckets formed a large half circle and when the bells stopped ringing came forward in three waves to pour the blood onto the roadway, retuning to sit down and await arrest.

Children's Blood and Women Rise

Police watched carefully but took no action. There were a number of short speeches from young people, including some very impressive 10 and 11 year-olds, before I left, as well as by students and grandparents, but no arrests.

More pictures at Blood of Our Children – XR.


Million Women March against male violence – Oxford St

I left early to rush to Oxford Street for the annual all-women Million Women March by several thousand women, girls and children against male violence and arrived a little before the march was due to start from a street at the side of Selfridges.

The theme of the 2019 march was ‘Never Forgotten’ and it remembered the more than a hundred women killed by men each year in the UK, mainly by partners or ex-partners.

As in other years there was a strong representation by women from our diverse ethnic communities, concerned about male violence both here and in their countries of origin.

In the UK 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives and one incident is reported to police every minute.

Many more pictures on My London Diary Million Women March against male violence.


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Time to Act on Climate Change – 2015

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

Time to Act on Climate Change – it was indeed time to act on climate change when over 20,000 of us marched through the streets on Saturday 7th March 2015, but though almost all the scientists and others who had studied their reports were convinced the nine years since then have been largely wasted years.

Time to Act on Climate Change
Tina-Louise Rothery from ‘Frack Free Nanashire’ and others from Lancashire sitting down on the Strand

There have been some minor changes both in the UK and across the world, but nothing like enough to reverse the growing climate chaos – and our current government seems determined to stay on course for extinction, giving approval to new fossil fuel schemes.

Time to Act on Climate Change

Not that the current opposition, who may well become our government at the next general election seem any better. Instead of taking a firm line to oppose these climate-wrecking schemes and promising to reverse the decisions when they come to power they have said they will allow them to proceed. They have promised not to approve more, but then they have already abandoned most of the promises they had made earlier, including those related to climate change.

Time to Act on Climate Change

In 2021 Labour announced a £28 billion annual green spending plan creating new jobs in battery manufacturing, hydrogen power, offshore wind, tree planting, flood defences and home insulation in the first term when they came to power. They abandoned this pledge in Feb 2024, cutting by half or more its green investment plan.

Time to Act on Climate Change

Back in 2015 the climate march and rally demanded real action without delay with a total divestment from fossil fuels, an end to fracking and damaging bio-fuel projects and for a 100% renewable energy future which would create a million new jobs. The Labour policy would have been a watered down version of this, coming ten years at least too late, but now hardly coming at all.

The organisers of the march through London had refused to pay for any policing of the event, saying it was not needed and it proceeded peacefully largely in their absence. There were large groups of police protecting some businesses, particularly the Strand McDonalds, where some marchers stopped to protest.

A large group of the marchers, including a block from Frack Free Lancashire led by the Nanas, then sat down on the road and halted the march for around 15 minutes before getting up and continuing.

A black block of several hundred behind a banner ‘TIME TO ACT ON CAPITALISM’ made a lot of noise going down Whitehall, and then rushed off down King Charles Street rather than continue to the rally. I went with them for a few yards and then decided to go back and join the many thousands on the main march which ended with a rally on College Green, close to the Houses of Parliament.

Here is the list I gave of the speakers in the account I wrote in 2015, and there are pictures of most of them on My London Diary:

Among the speakers were John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, Kat Hobbs from CAAT, Bert Wander of Avaaz, Pete the Temp, Fatima-Zahara Ibrahim of the Youth Climate Coalition, Pete Deane from Biofuelwatch, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth, FBU leader Matt Wrack, Rumana Hashem an evironmental activist from Bangladesh, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Tina-Louise Rothery who spoke toegther with a Frack Free Lancashire crowd, Dennis Fernando, UAF, Chris Baugh, PCS, John McDonnell, MP, and comedian Francesca Martinez. A woman from Paris (whose name I missed) invited us all to go there to protest at the climate talks there this December, and a 12 year-old read an excellent speech she had prepared.

There was then a performance by a large choir, Voices United, and the event concluded with John Stewart of HACAN who came on stage together with some polar bears from a protest earlier in the day at Heathrow who received prolonged applause.

Time to Act on Climate Change

At the end of the rally we were invited to take part in two other protests continuing the day’s theme and I went with ‘Art Not Oil’ proceeding with their Viking longship to protest on the steps of Tate Britain against the gallery accepting sponsorship to greenwash climate wrecker BP. Partly I chose this rather than the planned direct actions around Parliament as I thought it would get less press coverage, but it was also on my way to Vauxhall station where I could catch a train home.

Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change


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End BP’s British Museum Greenwash – 2015

Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

End BP’s British Museum Greenwash – On Sunday 20th December 2015 I went with ‘actor-vists’ from ‘BP or Not BP?’ to photograph the play they were staging uninvited in the British Museum’s Great Court depicting ‘BP executives’ giving a farewell party to departing Museum director ‘Neil MacGregor’.

End BP's British Museum Greenwash

Climate activists were calling on the British Museum and other art institutions to stop accepting sponsorship from BP and other companies whose activities are accelerating global warming. This protest came just a few days after the Paris climate talks in which some were arrested for protesting inside the Louvre over its sponsorship by major oil companies Total and Eni.

End BP's British Museum Greenwash

It was a part of a whole series of protests in the UK which eventually led the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries Scotland, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House all to end sponsorship by BP. Their protests continued later in the British Museum, which in June this year (2023) finally appears to have decided to end its agreements with BP after 27 years. The only major cultural institution still partnering with BP is now the Science Museum’s education academy.

End BP's British Museum Greenwash

BP’s contribution to the Museum’s budget was relatively small, a fraction of a percent, but on my first visit for some years around ten years ago I was surprised and rather shocked by the engraved message on the wall of the rotunda in the Great Court and the many times the BP logo appeared on display texts. It also featured prominently on the publicity for the museum’s major exhibitions, including Vikings, Ming, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, the Mexican Day of the Dead and Sunken Cities, the last two perhaps particularly unfortunate as BP has been given the largest corporate criminal fine in history of $18.7 billion for the underwater Deepwater Horizon oil spill which caused huge pollution of the ocean around the coast of Mexico.

End BP's British Museum Greenwash

I’d got to know the British Museum quite well in the 1970s when my wife worked for a couple of years in the British Library which was then based there, writing entries for the catalogue and serving readers at the desk there. What had been rather dark lobbies around the central hall had been transformed into a large open area, but also the Museum had become very much a space promoting the “World’s Biggest CORPORATE CRIMINAL.’ The open space did however in December 2015 provide a great theatre for ‘BP or Not BP?’

Around 20 performers had made their way into the museum carrying props and banners in bags, under coats and in pockets, and grouped in the Great Court in front of the Rotunda, close to where the message of thanks to BP is engraved in the wall. I think there was not a great deal of security although the performance had been quite widely advertised probably because many Museum staff are also opposed to or embarrassed by BP sponsorship.

The play then began with the cast, dressed as BP executives, having a party and singing a song about departing director Neil MacGregor giving BP “cheap branding and a social license to operate through all the oil spills” to the tune of Robbie Williams’s ‘Angels’, then leaving the stage to three ‘BP executives’ who were shortly joined by the actor playing Neil MacGregor, who they thanked effusively for his support, listing and commenting about some of their activities including the various exhibitions.

‘MacGregor”s reply to their thanks included various revealing quotes from e-mails he had written to BP staff which had been revealed by Freedom Of Information requests, and he was plied with oily champagne and a cake representing the world until he collapsed drunk. The BP executives then discussed how they would “befriend and bribe” new director, Hartwig Fischer, with “even more lavish dinner parties! … Business meetings! … Opening nights! … VIP Previews! … Exhibitions! … Screenings! … Drinks!” before ending with a toast and singing together to the tune of Auld Lang Syne a song whose chorus was (with some slight variations):

For all the OIL and lies, my dears,
For all the OIL and lies,
We gave a tiny sum of cash
Meanwhile the planet fries.

The group had been approached by a Museum security officer as they began the performance and had assured him it would be fairly short and they would then leave and I think the museum decided not to call the police. As the play ended they cleaned up the floor and marched out singing, pausing briefly in the foyer and then giving a second performance on the portico outside before we went to a nearby pub where I made a hasty edit and handed over pictures to them.

You can still see a video about the performance on the on the BP or NOT BP? web site, along with several of my pictures. I had taken a large number of pictures and those on My London Diary are largely the out-takes from the large set for the performers.

More pictures at End BP’s British Museum Greenwash.


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Climate Emergency Rally & Wave – 2009

Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

Climate Emergency Rally & Wave – Saturday 5th December 2009 was probably the day of possibly the largest protest then in the UK over the impending disaster of climate change. Over a hundred organisations had come together in the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition representing a combined membership of around 11 million “from the Women’s Institute and RSPB to Christian Aid and Unison.”

Climate Emergency Rally & Wave - Saturday 5th December 2009

This is the group which now calls itself less contentiously The Climate Coalition and organises a ‘Great Big Green Week‘ which slipped by last June without me noticing it (and I belong to several of the organisations it includes.) It’s good that a wider group is concerned about climate change, but the action over the ever increasing crisis has passed on to others such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil.

Climate Emergency Rally & Wave - Saturday 5th December 2009

The next Great Big Green Week is 8th – 16th June 2024 and it would be good to see some real action, stopping down polluters, mass protests, creating news headlines every day. With now a combined supporter base of 20 million and with sister organisations in Wales, Scotland and Ireland they should be able to achieve a major impact.

Climate Emergency Rally & Wave - Saturday 5th December 2009

The Campaign Against Climate Change had organised an annual Climate match at the time of the UN Climate talks every year since 2005 and although it was good to see a wider participation despite that huge potential and massive publicity the march was perhaps only a little more than five times the size of previous years. And the 2009 event, entitled ‘The Wave’ did seem more a stunt for the media than an informed political event. As I commented, “Surely with the backing of 11 million the coalition should be making demands, not just waving, and it’s perhaps hard to see the significance of blue hands and faces in a demonstration about global warming.” Red would perhaps have been a more appropriate colour choice than the coolest of colours.

Climate Emergency Rally & Wave - Saturday 5th December 2009

Campaign Against Climate Change began the event with a rally at Hyde Park with speakers giving a clear political message, which I summarised in my account on My London Diary:

They stress we really need to take emergency action in the UK now, starting with the declaration of a Climate Emergency. Immediate actions should include a 10% cut in carbon dioxide by the end of 2010, a million new green jobs by the end of 2010, a ban on domestic flights, the scrapping of the roads program and a 55 mph speed limit, and an end to the use of agrofuels.

My London Diary

But the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition had absented themselves from this and met instead in Grosvenor Square, joining with those from the rally to march to surround the Houses of Parliament in ‘The Wave.’ And on a Saturday of course there were not even any MPs there to wave at – and only a few had come to take part in the protest.

More interesting things were happening on the fringes of the main event, and in some of the groups on the march, and I covered as much as I could of this, though I did miss the Climate Camp protesters who took over Trafalgar Square, who I visited briefly a couple of days later.

Rather separate from the main march was an ironic protest by around 50 people dressed as city traders representing the World Association of Carbon Traders.

The City gents including a few ‘gentesses’ and rather more bad false moustaches along with some power-dressed business women marched under the banner ‘Carbon Trading: The Final Solution‘ in a rather nasty yellow, perhaps meant to be gold, though it seemed more mustard to me.

The WACT logo – ‘CO2$’ and placards including ‘Trust Me, I’m a Banker, Capitalise On The Climate’, ‘In Markets We Trust’, ‘One Solution. Trade Pollution’, ‘Greed is Green’, ‘Carbon Trader = Eco Crusader.’ and ‘Cash In On Climate Change’, as well as the ‘Permits to Pollute’ they were handing out made their ironic intention clear, though some tourists on the pavements seemed very confused.

I recognised them despite their disguises as the Space Hijackers whose activities over the years had given a new creative face to protest; here they gave a welcome touch of ironic humour and substance to what was perhaps otherwise a rather bland if colourful event that often seemed more like a PR media stunt than a political demonstration.

Their message was of course a serious one. Carbon trading is at best an irrelevance in environmental terms, allowing ‘business as usual’ and with fat profits for some. But worse, as with all markets, it is a mechanism for allowing the wealthy to increase their domination at the expense of the poor.

Other groups also came with a serious political message, if sometimes also expressed rather rudely. For a short distance the main march was led by a black banner with the message ‘POLARIARIAT! UP YER BUM, COP 15!’ and a picture of a Polar Bear, threatened as arctic ice sheets melt and disintegrate. Stewards from the march soon came and argued with them to leave and after police intervention they moved a long way back in the march joining a few other like-minded groups. The quote from the 1987 film ‘Wish You Were Here‘ clearly didn’t fit the smooth PR presentation of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.

Finally it was 3pm and time to wave and I was with protesters in front of Big Ben to register the time.

Some people stayed on and continued to protest in Parliament Square for another hour or so. Among them were Climate Rush whose banners were calling for Equity “EMISSION QUOTAS MUST BE PER CAPITA. THE RICH HAVE NO MORE RIGHT TO POLLUTE THAN THE POOR”. As I commented this is something that the rich – and in particular the USA – don’t accept and which was likely to prevent any real progress in the talks at Copenhagen.

I took a great many pictures over the day, and put rather too many of them on My London Diary, along with rather more accounts than usual, including some things I’ve not mentioned here. The links are roughly in the order of events:
Climate Emergency Bike Ride
Climate Emergency Rally
The Wave – Before the March
Anticapitalist Block
World Association of Carbon Traders
Marching to the Wave
The Wave
COP Out Camp Out


Climate, Pay & Pensions – 2019

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

Climate, Pay & Pensions – Friday 29th November 2019 was ‘Black Friday’ for some but for others it was ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and Climate Strike students were on the march, while separately University lecturers and others in the UCU along with students and other supporters were marching to Parliament in support of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions.


Youth Climate Strike March

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Over a thousand mainly school students met in Parliament Square to demand the government and other governments world-wide take urgent action to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

They demanded a Green New Deal to save their future and for the school curriculum to make clear the urgent need for changes in attitudes and action.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Of course their protest fell on deaf ears in the Tory government, and although it did seem for some time that the Labour opposition was beginning to think seriously about the environmental crisis, as it seems more likely they might get into power their climate polices for a https://www.labourgnd.uk/gnd-explained Green New Deal are rapidly being abandoned and it now seems they are “unlikely to meet its £28bn green pledge at all.”

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Well over a thousand marched up Whitehall and on through Trafalgar Square to Regent Street, intending to go to Oxford Street on ‘Buy Nothing Day’, but police stopped them on Regent Street and diverted them into Mayfair and eventually back to Whitehall and Parliament Square.

Earlier they had been met by a group of XR’s ‘Red Brigade’ mimes who had come to salute the student march.

Many more pictures at Youth Climate Strike March.


UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions

The UCU march from London University was on the 4th day of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions and in solidarity with the Youth Climate Strike also taking place in London the same day.

Some had been on the picket lines since the early morning before the march began in Malet Street.

I saw the march as I came back from Regent Street where I had left the student march as I came on to the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, and ran down to catch up with the front of the march on Whitehall, close to Downing St.

The march stopped there for some time, lining the road opposite the entrance to Downing St and shouting towards it, before moving on towards Parliament.

As well as their call for proper working conditions and better pay many of the marchers also came calling for changes in what is taught and with posters and placards about climate change. Some had already marched to support the students.

They then marched on to Parliament Square, where I left them as they moved towards a rally.

More pictures UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions.


London City Airport 30th Birthday – 2017

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

London City Airport 30th Birthday: Thursday 26th October 2017 was exactly 30 years after the first commercial flight took off from London City Airport, LCY, in London’s former Royal Docks. Local campaign group HACAN East organised a protest to mark the occasion.

London City Airport 30th Birthday - 2017

The airport is around six miles east from the City of London and three miles from Canary Wharf and these two financial centres and the many of those who travel through it are business travellers though in winter months it has many taking ski holidays in Europe.

London City Airport 30th Birthday - 2017

LCY is London’s 5th airport after Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton and the 14th busiest in the UK. It is also the closest to the centre of London, and the most convenient to travel through. In one early visit to the airport I saw a traveller arriving late for his flight jumping from a taxi, running through the terminal and gate and across the tarmac to a plane to join others boarding. Though security is now rather tighter, passengers still avoid the long and boring hours of waiting at larger airports – which are largely there to support the shopping malls.

London City Airport 30th Birthday - 2017

It owes its origin to the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) which took control of the area in 1981, taking the development of a huge area of London’s former Docklands out of any democratic control. Although situated within the London Borough of Newham they played no part in the planning for it and the surrounding area, although control reverted to the borough finally when the LDDC was wound up in 1998.

London City Airport 30th Birthday - 2017

Like Heathrow, LCY was founded on lies. It got permission to operate as a small business airport in a crowded part of east London on condition that the number of flights would be very limited and that these would use ultra-quiet turboprops designed for short landing and take-off.

As I wrote in 2017, “There are now many more flights, many made by extremely noisy jets, causing extreme nuisance under the flight paths.” With its single relatively short runway between the King George V and Royal Albert Docks it cannot handle the larger jets, but with the need for a relatively steep take-off and landing the planes are at their noisiest.

It was only five years before LCY lengthened the runway to allow a wider range of planes to use the airport and also considerably reduced the angle of approach so that these could fly lower on the approach, increasing the noise for residents in south-east London. In 2016 a plan for a major expansion programme was approved despite considerable opposition from residents in the area over the proposed 50% increase in the number of flights with the associated noise, air pollution and traffic congestion this would create.

The birthday protest in 2017 was organised by HACAN East (formerly Fight the Flights) and campaigners dressed as bakers delivered a birthday cake to London City Airport demanding they retain the cap on flights, have no further expansion and end the use of concentrated flight paths.

The demonstration was met by London City Airport’s Director of Public Affairs Liam McKay who took the cake and invited the protesters in for tea or coffee and to eat a slice of the cake. He said that he welcomed the dialogue with local residents.

Covid provided some respite for local residents, with a great reduction in the number of flights, but since then things have picked up, though in 2022 they were only back to the 2012 levels.

In 2022 LCY proposed to increase the number of passengers by almost 50%, continue flights on Saturdays until 10pm (currently none are allowed between 1pm Saturday and 12.30pm Sunday) and double the number allowed between 6.30 and 7pm every day. As the Green Party pointed out “this would mean more pollution, more noise for residents and a staggering increase in CO2 emissions” which is not consistent with the UK’s 2050 net zero target. They call for LCY to be closed and the site used for much-needed homes with workers there being re-trained for green jobs. The application, slightly reduced from the original plan, was rejected by Newham Council in July 2023.

More at 30th Birthday cake for London City Airport.


No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies: Saturday 10th October 2015 saw me in Parliament Square for a rally against building another runway at Heathrow, then outside the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills against a secret US/EU trade deal and finally meeting charity zombies walking across the Jubilee Bridge.


No Third Runway – Parliament Square

No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies

Community protests and a little environmental common sense had defeated plans to expand Heathrow Airport which was cancelled by the coalition government in 2010, but the aviation industry didn’t take no for an answer. A biased commission was set up to look at airport growth and in July 2015 came out with its report putting a third runway back on the table.

No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies

Around a thousand people turned up a few months later on October 10th for a central London rally against the third runway at Heathrow as levels of noise and pollution across London were already unacceptable. They argued the Davies commission was flawed and airport expansion was both unnecessary and impractical.

No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies

Any expansion would be a catastrophe for those living around the airport whose land and homes would be lost, but huge areas around already suffer from noise and illegal levels of pollution due to Heathrow, including Chiswick, Hammersmith and Teddington. And we would all suffer from increasing carbon emissions leading to global heating as environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace pointed out.

No Third Runway, TTIP & Zombies

As well as the flights and the problems they cause directly, Heathrow expansion would also increase traffic in the surrounding area, where roads including the M25 which are already often greatly overcrowded are already under stress, with minor incidents often bringing large areas to a standstill. Another runway would bring more road traffic with more pollution and more and more gridlock. The existing problems would also be made worse as the expansion would further disrupt traffic routes in the area.

The meeting was chaired by one of my least favourite media presenters Gyles Brandreth who introduced in his usual sick-making way a number of well-known speakers including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MPs Andy Slaughter & Tania Mathias, four of London’s Mayoral candidates, Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon, Richmond Council leader Lord True, campaigners John Sauven of Greenpeace, John Stewart of HACAN and others.

Also treated to his ingratiating manner was the star of the show, local resident Mrs Taylor who has lived in a house right on the edge of the proposed extension for 80 years and came on helped by her daughter and grand-daughter to be interviewed by Brandreth.

Although Parliament approved the expansion in 2018 and legal challenges were finally dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2020, given that we now feel so much more keenly the disastrous effects of carbon emissions on global temperatures it seems virtually impossible for it to take place – and if it did that it would become a massive white elephant, greater than even the current HS2 scandal.

More at No Third Runway.


TTIP protest at Business Ministry, Westminster

A short distance away outside the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills a part of an EU-wide protest against TTIP was taking place. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was a secret US/EU trade deal which puts company profits above democracy and over 3 million of us EU citizens had signed petitions against it.

TTIP would have forced us to accept US grown and processed foods, including GM crops and meat and dairy products from animals fed on GM, chickens that are washed in chlorine, meat containing high hormone levels and other chemical solutions to allow sloppy husbandry.

TTIP would also allow corporations to dictate government policies by taking them to courts where any policy might possibly impact on their profits, and would drive the rapid privatisation of the NHS and other public services.

Fortunately the secret negotiations ended without conclusion at the end of 2016, and the EU later declared that they were “obsolete and no longer relevant“. The documents detailing the negotiated proposals are still secret, only available to authorised persons.

Since Brexit, TTIP would not have directly applied to trade between the US and UK, but similar secret negotiations have been carrying on between the UK and the US. But the US has taken little interest in concluding these as the UK is less important as a trading partner.

TTIP protest at Business Ministry


Zombies crawl for St Mungo’s – Jubilee Bridge & Embankment Gardens

I was too late to see the start of the Zombie crawl at Leake Street,but was able to photograph them as they came up the steps from Jubilee Gardens onto the Jubilee Bridge and as they took a short break in Enbankment Gardens before their lengthy crawl around the West End.

This Zombie crawl was a fund-raising event for St Mungo’s Broadway, a charity which provides the homeless with emergency shelter, housing, healthcare and training, and the zombies were remarkably friendly. Perhaps a little less dramatically zombified than on some zombie crawls I’ve photographed in the past, and certainly rather less alcohol-fuelled than most.

Some zombie crawls have been overtly political, others just young people having a fun pub crawl. This one was for charity, and the fact we need to have charities to provide support for the homeless certainly shows a failure by government to provide support for some of the most needy in our society.

Back in the 1960s I remember going to Paris and seeing people sleeping on the streets and not understanding what a beggar who approached us was doing – I’d just not experienced this on the streets of London.

Of course there were some homeless people in our cities, and homeless men walking to the centre of London would sometimes come to our back door and ask my mother for a cup of tea (which she always provided, along with a few pence we couldn’t afford) but nothing on the scale we have seen over the past 20 or 30 years.

I didn’t spend long photographing the zombies. There were too many other people taking pictures for me to be able to work in the way I like, and it was even worse in the Embankment Gardens than on the bridge. I don’t often crop pictures, liking to work with the full-frame though occasionally making some minor adjustments, but on this occasion there were simply too many other people with cameras who I wanted to remove.

Zombies crawl for St Mungo’s


Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon: Two unconnected events in London on Sunday 30th September 2007. I photographed a Muslim festival in Park Lane before making my way to Battersea where a long march organised by Christian Aid around Britain was resting before its final push to the City of London calling for urgent action to cut our carbon emissions. Sixteen years ago it was already clear we needed to do this to avoid climate catastrophe – but our government has clearly not yet got the message with its recent decisions, including giving the go ahead to exploit the Rosebank field.


Mourning the Martrydom of Ali – Marble Arch

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Ali Ibn Abi Talib grew up in the household of the prophet Muhammad and was the first male to profess his belief in his guardian’s divine revelation.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Later he married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and became a great warrior and leader and also one of the foremost Islamic scholars. He was made Caliph after the previous Calip was assassinated, and was then himself assassinated while praying in the mosque at Kufa, Iraq dying a few days later on the 21st of Ramadan in 661CE.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Revered by all Muslims, he is particularly celebrated by Shia, who regard him as second only in importance to Muhammad, and celebrate his martydom annually, including in a colourful march on the streets of London.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

They gathered in front of Marble Arch for a lengthy period of mourning before a ceremonial coffin was carried out and men and women rushed to touch it. People began to beat their breasts, the men with extreme force and the women very much more decorously.

Eventually they formed into a procession and moved off down Park Lane, with much continued mourning and beating of breasts, led by a tall banner about Ali, then the men, followed by the ceremonial bier and finally the by the women with more banners.

Although the men were happy to be photographed, some were concerned that I also photographed the women taking part in this and other similar events. But after putting the photographs from events like this on-line I received e-mails from some of the women in them thanking me for having recorded their participation.

I left the marchers as they moved down Park Lane. The procession continues for some hours, moving slowly and then returning to Marble Arch but I had to go to Battersea.

Many more pictures beginning at on My London Diary.


Cut The Carbon March: Christian Aid – St Mary’s Battersea

The ‘Cut The Carbon March’ organised by Christian Aid called for the UK and the world to take urgent action to reduce the carbon emissions which are leading to a catastrophic global warming which was already threatening the lives and livelihoods of many around the world, particularly in the Global South.

Clearly all countries needed to take urgent action to avoid the growing catastrophe, and countries such as the UK with higher per capita carbon footprints need to take a lead in this as well as helping other less industrialised countries to do so. We have benefited from a couple of hundred years of carbon-dirty industrial growth which has brought to world to the brink.

The marchers, including a number of international participants, had begun in Northern Ireland in July, moving on to Scotland, England and Wales on a thousand mile route through major cities which were listed on the back of the t-shirts worn by the marchers. The march was intended to convince people of the necessity to cut carbon emissions from the UK and globally. As well as marching there were events at their stops on the route, including a visit to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth where they had met with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Many others had joined the core marchers, walking with them for short sections of the route and providing hospitality at churches along the way. They were stopping in Battersea and taking part in an evening service in St Mary’s there before the final day of the march which was to end at St Paul’s Cathedral on October 1st.

I was late and the marchers had arrived at St Mary’s just I few minutes before me and were enjoying a rest in its riverside churchyard. Later some talked about the march and why they had given up their summer to take part in it as it was so vital that the UK and the world take serious action.

We were reminded that some of the world’s lower-lying countries were being threatened by the sea level rise from global warming, with ice-caps melting as a high Spring tide began to flood parts of the churchyard, but fortunately stopped with only a few large puddles at one side. But the sea-level will continue to rise and make some whole island countries uninhabitable as well as large areas of others already subject to flooding.

More recently we are also now seeing the effects of global heating and climate instability clearly in the UK, Europe and North America with record high temperatures, huge forest wild fires and odd weather patterns affecting crop yields. But the fossil fuel companies are still huge lobbyists and contributors to party funds and still our UK government, while paying lip-service to zero carbon in the rather distant future of 2050, continues to pump up the carbon with new coal, gas and oil exploitation. Total madness.

But this was a fine September evening and St Mary’s is a fine listed building and I was pleased yet again to take a tour inside and admire its architecture, fine monuments and modern stained glass windows for both William Blake and Joseph Mallord Turner who knew it well, as well as the riverside views.

More pictures on My London Diary


As well as the pictures you can see what I wrote about these events at the time near the bottom of the September 2007 page of My London Diary.