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John McDonnell MP to give evidence at Plane Stupid Heathrow third runway protest trial

A Plane Stupid activist confirmed the Shadow Chancellor is set to appear on Friday

13 Plane Stupid protesters arrive for their trial

John McDonnell MP is set to give evidence at the trial of 13 Plane Stupid protesters, who blocked a runway at Heathrow Airport in summer 2015.

The trial, at Willesdon Magistrates Court, began on Monday (January 18), with a gathering of supporters in solidarity with the activists, including leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett.

Each of the 13 defendants face charges of aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome, after allegedly cutting a hole in a fence to access the northern runway at Heathrow Airport on July 13.

They previously pleaded not guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on August 19, where Sipson residents showed their support in a demonstration.

The defendants plan to call Shadow Chancellor and Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell, as well as the Green party mayoral candidate, Sian Berry, and climate scientist Alice Bows-Larkin.

The Hayes and Harlington MP, who fervently speaks out against the third runway as it effects his constituents, is set to appear on Friday (January 22).

Speaking of his fears for the coming year , he said the greatest challenge will be to “fight to save the Heathrow villages and south of the borough from the threat of a third runway”.

He said: “I am confident that, working together as a community, we will rise successfully to these challenges and protect our community.

“That's why I am so proud to represent our area as it's local MP. I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents and my community."

Third runway would 'cross a red line'

Activists staged a ‘red line’ protest, with giant two-meter-high inflatable cobblestones

Just as it did during the previous court hearing , a demonstration in support of the activists took place outside the court on Monday, organised by campaign group Reclaim the Power.

Over a hundred residents and activists including the Green Party leader, staged a ‘red line’ protest, with giant two meter high inflatable cobblestones highlighting the agreement made in Paris last month, and the incompatibility of that agreement with aviation expansion.

A spokesperson for Plane Stupid, Sam Jones, said: “Plane Stupid took action last July to stop emissions from aircraft.

"Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions and Heathrow is the biggest airport in the Europe by a long way. Building a third runway would cross a red line that would jeopardise our ability to combat climate change.

“This isn’t about people taking business trips or their annual holidays, this is about the minority of frequent leisure fliers who take trips to their second homes, weekend breaks and tax havens – that 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the UK’s flights.”

Plane Stupid, who have been taking action against airport expansion for nearly a decade, say they are “in it for the long haul".

Mr Jones added: “David Cameron famously asserted in 2010 that Heathrow would not be expanded, “no ifs, no buts”.

“The fact that the government is now U-turning spectacularly on this promise demonstrates why you can’t leave this sort of thing to politicians.”

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