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Greta Thunberg Condemns ‘Rich Elite’ as She Joins Protest Against Airport Expansion

Published on: 29 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 29 Jan, 2024

Greta Thunberg joined the protest against plans to expand the number of flights at Farnborough Airport.

Greta Thunberg

Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined local residents, Extinction Rebellion activists and climate change campaigners outside Farnborough Airport on Saturday (January 27) to protest against plans to increase private jet flights from 50,000 to 70,000 a year.

The protesters are also calling for a total ban on private jets, which they say are up to 30 times more polluting than passenger airliners. The flight path of some flights to and from Farnborough Airport are over Guildford Borough.

Ms Thunberg, who travelled by train to England, said: “The fact that using private jets is both legally and socially allowed today in an escalating climate emergency is completely detached from reality.

“There are few examples that show as clearly how the rich elite is sacrificing present and future living conditions on this planet so they can maintain their extreme and violent lifestyles.”

One protestor warns of dire consequences if the airport is allowed to expand.

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Farnborough town centre to march to Farnborough Airport, setting off pink smoke flares and waving banners proclaiming “Flying to Extinction”, “Stop Private Flights Now”, “No to Airport Expansion” and “Private Flights = Public Deaths”.

The march was organised by Extinction Rebellion Waverley and Borders. Local councillors, including the leader of Waverley Borough Council Paul Follows, were in attendance.

Speakers included representatives from Safe Landing, the anti-private jet campaign group Possible, and the No Airport Expansion Group. There was also a pre-recorded speech by broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham.  Another speaker was local campaigner Colin Shearn of the Farnborough Noise group. Mr Shearn has an antisocial behaviour injunction served against him by Surrey police for campaigning against the airport.

Cllr Paul Follows, the Lib Dem leader of Waverley Borough Council at the protest.

In a press release, campaign organisers said: “This is the latest in a series of protests against the airport’s planning application, which seeks to more than double weekend flights and boost the use of heavier, more polluting private jets.

“In 2022, there were 33,120 flights to and from the airport, a 27 per cent increase compared to 2021’s total of 26,007.

“Flights to and from Farnborough averaged just 2.5 passengers per flight. Currently, 40 per cent of flights to and from the airport are empty, according to research by campaign group Possible.

“Despite claiming the majority of flights are for business use, the research showed that most Farnborough flights are headed to holiday destinations.”

Map showing Farnborough Airport Flight Paths. Red are arrival routes and blue departure.

Godalming resident Chris Neill, 67, a retired psychotherapist, said: “We’re in a global climate and ecological emergency. We need to reduce carbon emissions fast and there’s no realistic plan for taking the carbon out of jet fuel. Until there is, we need to fly much less, not more.

“This plan to expand a luxury airport used exclusively by very wealthy people at a time when ordinary people are struggling to manage everyday life is reckless, stupid and selfish. We need a government which has the courage to stop this.”

Farnborough Airport has calculated its plans would create 950 jobs in the South East of England and add £220 million to the UK economy.

Farnborough Airport Terminal Building. Wikipedia

A spokesperson for Farnborough Airport said: “Farnborough Airport is an important gateway for business aviation connectivity with the majority of flights being operated for business and corporate travel purposes.

“The airport’s environmental footprint is a fraction that of a traditional commercial airport, yet it serves as one of the largest employment sites in the region.

“We recognise the importance of continually reducing our environmental impact and we are only one of a small number of UK airports to have achieved Level 4+ under the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.”

The airport also cited its commitment to continually reducing its environmental impact, being part of “only one of a small number of UK airports” under the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

But East Hampshire District Council has said the plans would undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions and would increase noise pollution.

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Responses to Greta Thunberg Condemns ‘Rich Elite’ as She Joins Protest Against Airport Expansion

  1. Colin Byrne Reply

    January 30, 2024 at 6:39 pm

    It was great to see our MP, Angela Richardson, being so proactive on the issue of pharmacy provision in Merrow and taking up the cudgels with Boots and Andrea Leadsome.

    Maybe she could now turn to the issue of the expansion of Farnborough Airport and be equally proactive in promoting the discussions between the community and the airport that she advocated in her letter of January 4. And if that fails, she could lobby Michael Gove as suggested earlier.

    Perhaps she could also report on her progress with a letter to this paper?

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