Success: Heathrow Airport Expansion Protesters Will Not Face Jail Time

Target: Deborah Wright, District Judge

Goal: Applaud decision not to impose jail time on 13 peaceful protesters.

A band of 13 peaceful protesters who were arrested in 2016 for blocking the north runway at Heathrow Airport were all granted suspended six week sentences. This came after prosecutors had indicated they would seek harsher penalties including imprisonment for charges including trespassing. However there were widespread calls for leniency, including from several ministers of Parliament and through petitions such as this one on ForceChange. The group was part of a movement in the United Kingdom, known as “Plane Stupid,” which has led opposition against the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport.

The proposal includes plans for a third runway to be constructed two miles north of the current Heathrow complex. Proponents of the project cite an increase of more than 200,000 flights annually and estimate the benefit to the British economy would total £147 billion over the next 60 years. However there has been fierce opposition from environmentalists, politicians and residents of the proposed expansion zone. Their concerns range from the environmental impact of a dramatic increase in air traffic to the forced relocation of entire neighborhoods which would be demolished if runway construction is completed.

This judgement continues a long history in the United Kingdom of respecting the right to peaceful protest in service of the environment. No one has been imprisoned for non-violent environmental activism since 1932. Sign the below petition applauding the court for upholding that ideal.


Dear Judge Wright,

I am writing to applaud your decision not to impose prison time on the “Heathrow 13.” Your decision continues a legal tradition in the United Kingdom of respect for non-violent environmental activism dating back to 1932.

As the world increasingly grapples with how best to meet the challenges posed by climate change, it is critical that concerned citizens who feel compelled to demonstrate peacefully continue to be judged for their actions with empathy and understanding.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

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  1. Good news. People should always have the right to protest peacefully without fear of arrest and imprisonment.

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