Protesters shut down City Airport in demonstration against proposed £344m expansion scheme and ‘racist climate crisis’
Plans for a £344 million expansion at London City Airport by architect Pascall + Watson came under fire today as protestors shut down the airport’s runway.
Police were called to the Docklands site early this morning (6th September) after nine protesters from Black Lives Matter UK erected a tripod and ‘locked themselves together’ on the runway.
Following a demonstration which lasted for around five hours and caused chaos for travellers, nine people were arrested by police on suspicion of ’aggravated trespass, being unlawfully airside and breaching London City Airport bylaws’.
Black Lives Matter UK - a branch of the US-based protest movement - said the action was taken in order to ‘highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally’.
In a video post, one protestor said: ‘The London City Airport expansion cannot go ahead because it would further decrease the quality of life for poor black people in this country. It cannot be left unchallenged.’
Speaking to BBC London, group member Joshua Virasami said: ‘The community where this airport is a predominantly black community.
‘In Britain, 28% of black people are more likely to be exposed to air pollution… being in closest proximity to the industries causing climate change.’
Virasami added the disruption to flights was ‘a very small inconvenience when you think about the consequences for black communities daily’.
In a statement, the group also claimed climate change and aircraft emissions were already disproportionately affecting black people around the world.
‘Whilst at London City Airport a small elite is able to fly, in 2016 alone 3,176 migrants are known to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean,’ the statement said.
‘Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis.
‘We note, however, that the UK is willing to charter special flights to remove black people from the country based on their immigration status.’
Pascall + Watson’s plans include a three storey passenger pier, new aircraft taxiway, a 260-bed hotel and parking spaces for planes.
The scheme has already faced opposition on environmental grounds and was attacked by the Green Party in July when ministers signalled their support.
City Airport apologised for the disruption to passengers and the Metropolitan Police said it had taken the nine protesters into custody after using specialist equipment to ‘unlock’ them.
Pascall + Watson declined to comment.