At a time when many people will be thinking about taking yet another cheap flight for a carbon-busting holiday in the sun, members of Transition Heathrow and residents of the village of Sipson by Heathrow Airport are headed for Central London County Court for a two day hearing about whether their low carbon, off-grid community space can continue. Joe Rake, from Transition Heathrow reports:
After three previous adjournments it is expected a judge will finally rule on 19th June whether an eviction order should be granted at the community market-garden project ‘Grow Heathrow’. Despite widespread support from the surrounding community, including Hillingdon Council, the local MP and even the local Police, the site with three greenhouses (renovated by the group) could be handed back to the land owners who have no plans for it.
The site was squatted over two years ago, as part of the Transition Heathrow project and the No Third Runway campaign – a campaign which become more relevant each time a politician indicates a change of plans on Heathrow expansion. Should the Coalition government decide they do want a third runway, it would represent one of the biggest government U-turns in the history of British politics. As a recent show of support, activists gathered outside the gate of ‘Grow Heathrow’ and held up a banner which read: “Return of the killer runway. You resurrect it. We will bury it. Again.” This is a threat which thousands of activists all over the country and all over the world are likely to keep should the subject ever come back on the table.
If these issues weren’t enough to keep the group busy, the government have now made their position more tricky by recently passing a law to criminalise squatting in residential properties. Although Grow Heathrow is exempt from the proposed new law (as commercial property and not residential), many similar projects around the UK will be threatened once the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill (LAPSO) becomes law in a couple of months time. This law was passed after 96% of respondents to the government’s consultation (who didn’t want to see any action taken on squatting) were ignored. The legislation was added to the LASPO bill only three days before finally being passed in the House of Commons.
2012 could go down as the year autonomous spaces were shut out and closed down – unless we fight back. We know the government (any government) will always take the side of private property over the right to shelter, so we feel it is extremely important at this time to build strong community spaces that can defend themselves. When we come under attack self-defence is the only logical option.
Joe Rake is a member of Transition Heathrow and has been involved in the climate movement with groups such as Plane Stupid and Climate Camp. This year he has been working on the SQUASH campaign to oppose the criminalisation of squatting.
He lives at Grow Heathrow and was a founder Social Reporter. Read more about Grow Heathrow in his blog here
For further inforation and update on the court case : www.transitionheathrow.com