Campaigners Make Noise Protest from Solihull to Sutton Coldfield

This Saturday, campaigners from Birmingham Airport anti Noise Group (BANG!), Solihull Opposing Additional Runways (S.O.A.R.) and Birmingham Friends of the Earth (BFOE) will be making a noise protest against the proposed Wide Spaced second runway at Birmingham Airport(1). From Elmdon, Solihull to Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield a recording of aircraft noise will be blasted out of two loud speakers mounted on the back of a truck. The truck will follow a route(2) that traces the flight path of the new runway. The aim is to warn residents about what lies in store for them if the new runway goes ahead – intolerable levels of noise disturbance and pollution from aircraft.

A procession of vehicles is expected to follow the truck from its start point at Streamside Way, Solihull. The protesters will be stopping at key points along the route to hand out information to residents. The day will finish with a gathering outside the Boldmere Centre, St Michaels Road, Sutton where speakers from BANG! and Friends of the Earth will address the public.

Secretary of BANG! James Botham said:

"The good thing about the aircraft noise we will be blasting out is that it's temporary. At the end of the day we will turn it off. But if the Wide Spaced second runway goes ahead at Birmingham Airport and the planes start coming overhead for real then there won't be an off switch – ever."

Jenny Thatcher of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said:

"We are angry that Birmingham City Council did not follow the lead of its Solihull counterpart and reject the expansion proposals outlined in the Department for Transport's Consultation on the Future of Air Transport(3). The new runway will not only have devastating consequences for Solihull but will also mean hundreds of thousands of Birmingham people are exposed to aircraft noise and pollution night and day. Our protest is meant to tell local people how they have been betrayed."

On 5th Nov after four hours of debate, Solihull Council passed a resolution that whilst they did not expect Birmingham Airport to close, they could not justify the deterioration in Solihull residents' quality of life that a second runway would entail. On the same day, Birmingham City Council voted 71 to 15 in favour of seven recommendations supporting the "Wide Spaced" second runway option. At the Cabinet meeting the day before, the airport debate was over in ten minutes with no dissent from the floor. No explicit vote was taken so the Wide Spaced runway option was effectively passed on the nod.

Although the Airport has published "The Birmingham Alternative" which puts forward plans for a shorter Wide Spaced runway(4) campaigners still regard a new runway as unacceptable.

Editor's Notes

(1) The Government is considering the following options for the Midlands' airports:

· A "Wide Spaced" runway at Birmingham. The Airport has recently put forward a wide spaced runway option which is 600m shorter than that outlined in the Government's consultation. But campaigners still regard the wide spaced option as unacceptable.
· A "Closed Spaced" runway at Birmingham. This would be a new runway closer to the existing one.
· A new airport between Coventry and Rugby. This would demolish the villages of Church Lawford and kings Newnham and destroy 4000 acres of countryside. The new airport would handle more passengers than Heathrow and over 8 times the number currently using Birmingham, with a flight every 30 seconds.
· A new runway at East Midlands Airport.
· A maximum use option. This involves increasing terminal space at Birmingham and East Midlands Airports allowing their existing runways to be fully used. At Birmingham there would be more noise and some green belt would be lost, both from the airport itself and from the associated developments.

(2) The route is as follows:

1. START 9.30am open grassland on Streamside Way off Valley Road, Solihull
2. Turn right into Wells Road
3. Turn left at Junction with Coventry Road
4. Turn right into Sheaf Lane on to Church Lane
5. Turn left into Horrell Road
6. Exit at island into Brays Road
7. Proceed down Sheldon Heath Road
8. Go down slip road onto Meadway
9. Turn right into Church Road
10. Turn left into Audley Road
11. Turn left into Iron Lane
12. Turn right into Station Road
13. At roundabout take third exit into Stetchford Lane
14. Continue up Bromford Lane on to Wood End Lane
15. Exit into High Street, Erdington and go on up Sutton Road
16. Turn left into Highbridge Road
17. Turn left into Boldmere Road
18. Turn right into St Michaels Road
19. FINISH 1.30 (approx) outside Boldmere Centre, Boldmere, Sutton.

(3) On July 23rd 2002 the Government launched a four month consultation on the future of aviation in the UK. Free copies of the document "Consultation on the Future of Air Transport in the UK – Midlands" can be obtained by calling 0845 100 5554 or visiting Send responses to

"Consultation on the Future of Air Transport in the UK -Midlands"
Department of Transport
Zone 1/28c Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street

(4) The alternative Wide Spaced runway would be 600m shorter than that proposed by the Government in the Consultation document, would not operate at night, would spare nearby conservation areas and reduce the number of buildings demolished from 150 to 41.

But yet another scenario for expansion at Birmingham is not what is called for. The Birmingham Alternative is no alternative at all. It is simply the airport playing the same game as the Government Consultation – take for granted the assumption that growth in air transport infrastructure is economically and socially beneficial and restrict the debate to one about the scale of development or site preferences.