Activists to March Against Southampton Airport Expansion

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On 9th November, local environmental groups Southampton Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth Southampton and Airport Expansion Opposition Southampton (aXo SOU) will join forces to march in protest against the proposed expansion of Southampton Airport.

They say that this will mean that the woodland at Marlhill Copse, the area to the south of the airport’s runway, will be chopped down. In March this year, the airport posted a Youtube video explaining the planned works, which will include tree felling and height reduction work with the Forestry Commission on the land purchased by Southampton Airport in August 2018. According to the airport’s representatives, work will be carried out by ‘specialist arborists and to maintain safety to the public, and to be as sensitive to the land as possible, there will be restrictions put in place around access to the land and these will be clearly communicated to the public and local residents who use the copse‘.

This woodland is protected under Tree Preservation Orders. In 1956 the City Council issued this order and also gave it a woodland classification which covered all the trees. This means that the trees there are protected and they are the main barrier to the expansion of the airport which is a pivotal reason for the march.

The protests mirror national action taken against Heathrow expansion by Extinction Rebellion in June.

Southampton’s ‘master plan‘ for what it calls A Vision For Sustainable Growth involves an extension of the runway by 164 metres, a new departure lounge, and walkway development, among other additions to be completed by 2037. The airport have estimated that the expansion will increase jobs from 950 to 1500 upon completion, and increase its economic contribution from £161 million to £400 million.

Activists also submitted a petition against the proposed expansion to the City Council on 3rd November, which had collected 1,573 signatures. On their website, they write that this “should be enough to trigger a full debate at the Council meeting on 20th November.” 

On Saturday, the march begins at Marlhill Copse at 1pm, with five different stops that allow more protesters to join at each stage. These are: the old playground next to Model Railway Riverside Park, St Denis Church, October books on Portswood, the water fountain at the bottom of Avenue on Asylum Green and Guidhall, where the march ends at 4:40pm. For more detailed info on the route, click here.

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