Residents protest at Manchester Airport
On Saturday 3rd November around 100 local residents and campaigners took part in a protest walk against the proposed World Logistics Hub at Manchester Airport. The protesters braved the cold to take a route around the 90 acre former greenbelt site, which is threatened by the plans to build 43 cargo sheds and almost 1,500 car parking space
Local residents, wildlife enthusiasts and environmental campaigners spoke at various points along the walk, sharing their experiences of fighting Manchester Airport expansion and highlighting the numerous ways that the plans would affect local people and the environment.
The Wildlife Walk came the week after the Wythenshawe Area Committee‘recommended for approval’ the World Logistics Hub plans, on the 25th October. The application will now be sent to the Planning and Highways Committee at Manchester City Council for a final decision on 22nd November 2012. A number of attendees at the Wildlife Walk, keen for their concerns to be brought to this Committee, pledged to attend this November meeting at Manchester Town Hall.
Several Councillors of the Wythenshawe Area Committee backed the Logistics Hub plans based on the Airport's promises of local job opportunities. However campaigners argue that
job creation figures proposed by the Airport are inflated.
Jane Beetson from 'Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport' campaign said “When Manchester Airport first announced plans for a second runway, they claimed 50,000 jobs would be created. No-where near that number of jobs materialised. Just like then, they are misleading the public now.”
She added, “Local Councillors say they will force the Airport to give jobs to local people but in practice they will have no way of enforcing this on the firms that move into the new office and warehouse spaces. We need to create green jobs in sustainable industries not dirty aviation.”
The Wildlife Walk was also an opportunity for wildlife experts to explain that Airport's promises of preserving wildlife are also unrealistic, and that creating a 'mitigation zone' is no substitution for leaving habitats untouched.
Along the route, campaigners encountered the threatened habitats of numerous plant and animal species. Several mature oak trees line Sunbank Lane, providing nesting opportunities for rare birds, and potential roosting spots for endangered bat species. The site is also home to 12 ponds occupied by Great Crested Newts, an endangered species found only in the North West of England. Walkers were also able to spot signs of protected animals for example badger snuffle holes and mole hills in the green space around Sunbank.