A PROTEST against plans to extend the main runway at Birmingham International Airport was staged outside Solihull Council House earlier this week.
Comedian Mark Thomas and the novelist Will Self were among the 1000 people to sign a petition. The document urged the council to throw out the £130 million plan on environmental grounds.
It was announced last month that the proposals would go before the council’s planning committee on December 15. However, it is the Government who will have the final say on the plans.
The petition, delivered on top of a duty-free shopping trolley by campaigners dressed as pilots, was accepted by three Liberal Democrat councillors, Leela Widger, Tim Hodgson and Glenis Slater. It took the form of postcards showing a picture of a young woman and the message “Flyagra - the miracle treatment that really keeps you up
Leela Widger (Lib Dem, Silhill) said: “Locally, every councillor has his or her own view but I am strongly opposed to increasing the size of airports. At a time when all political parties recognise the need to protect the planet, extension of runways will have a harmful effect on the climate and damage the environment.
“Locally, residents of Solihull would suffer from loss of precious green belt and in many areas would experience increased aircraft noise pollution.”
BIA’s plan to lengthen the runway by 400 metres has the backing of the political leaders of all seven West Midlands metropolitan councils, which have a 49 per cent financial stake in the airport.
They say the extension is needed to enable non-stop flights to operate for the first time from Birmingham to India, China and the west coast of America, which will boost the regional economy by attracting inward investment.
But the expansion is bitterly opposed by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, who warn it will cause more noise for people living near the airport and carbon emissions.
An airport spokesman said: “Forecasts show that BIA will handle 27 million passengers a year by 2030 and an extension would account for four million of these.
“But these four million would be very important, bringing wealth and prosperity to the region through overseas investment and supporting regional businesses, commerce, industry and tourism.”