Heathrow protesters vow to fight

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: A sign in the village of Sipson near Heathrow Airport A sign in the village of Sipson near Heathrow Airport

Squatters campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow Airport have vowed to continue to fight eviction from a plot of land after bailiffs failed to show up.

The Grow Heathrow protesters have established a community market garden on land in Sipson, west London which could be bulldozed if the airport succeeds in its campaign to build a third runway.

The group were expecting to be forced off the land this morning after being served notice to leave last month.

Instead, the land owner visited alone and was greeted by "up to 200" campaigners gathered at the site to support the squatters.

Grow Heathrow, which was set up on the derelict land four years ago, were prepared to dig tunnels and use locks to frustrate the expected eviction attempt, which they see as part of the wider Heathrow expansion battle.

Campaigners, some of whom live on the land, have been training in ways to prevent efforts to remove them.

The land is owned by businessman Imran Malik, and the decision to evict them was upheld in the Court of Appeal.

Today John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, handed Mr Malik a letter urging him to discuss the issue with the residents, who want to buy the land.

Protesters claim he has so far not returned requests to talk about the land.

Cameron Richardson, a resident at Grow Heathrow, said: "This morning was a mixture of excitement and apprehension because this could have potentially been a foretaste for what might happen if a third runway at Heathrow is granted.

"We were ready to peacefully resist using lock-on and peaceful manpower stopping them coming through the gate.

"We're hopeful that in the next few days and weeks that he'll come and talk to us and start an adult conversation.

"I think we're still waiting to see if the bailiffs are going to come and we're ready for it but I'm hoping we're going to start a negotiation to buy this land and have a community-owned project for everybody."

Tracey Howard, who lives in under-threat Sipson, said: "I've been fighting for no third runway for the last 14 years and this is another cog to our wheel of the battle we've been fighting.

"We want to keep our village so anything that is offering support is a benefit to anybody.

"I would be lying if I said we couldn't get evicted off this land because we could, but I'm hopeful the land owner will talk to us about selling it."

Grow Heathrow said up to 200 people from the local community joined the protest chanting and playing music, and dancing and singing.

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