Richard Briers Joins Fellow Actors In Airport Protest

Anti-expansion campaigners plant an orchard in hope of creating Heathrow honey instead of Heathrow runways

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Photo credit - Couchman/Greenpeace

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Veteran Chiswick actor Richard Briers helped fellow actors, politicians, Cllr Peter Thompson and the current Poet Laurate to plant an orchard on land earmarked for the construction of a new runway at Heathrow.

The planting took place during a protest on Friday 13th November on the site which was bought by Greenpeace last year.

Over 60,000 people, including Richard Briers, own a stake in the land where the actor planted carrots earlier this year in a bid to persuade the government against the "daft idea" of expanding the airport.

Briers, who shot to fame as the self-sufficient Tom Good in the much loved tv programme The Good Life, was joined by Alison Steadman, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as well as residents of Sipson, Greenpeace, Woodland Trust, RSPB, World Development Movement and other groups representing millions of members and supporters.

The planting of the orchard represents the re-introduction of the Cox apple breed into the area and is designed to act as a potent symbol of the determination by politicians and the local community to stop the runway, save Sipson’s homes and school and fight climate change.

The Cox apple was first bred in the borough in the 1850s by Richard Cox, who is buried on the site earmarked for a new runway and whose body might still be exhumed if the development goes ahead.

Speaking on behalf of the 2M Group of London councils, Cllr Peter Thompson, leader of Hounslow Council, said, “Gardeners know that pleasure comes not from the final results of sowing and planting, but from the joy of watching a seed or sapling grow into something in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Heathrow has become the intrusive shrub from a neighbour’s garden – acceptable when properly maintained, but if left to its own devices a damaging nuisance that needs cutting back. This orchard shows that millions of people have had enough and think it’s time to reach for the secateurs.”

Commenting on the ‘orchard of resistance’, Heathrow writer-in-residence Alain de Botton said, “I'm sponsoring a tree in the orchard because I love airports and air travel, and recognise that if our society is to tolerate them, we are all going to have to learn to fly a lot less. Also, apple trees, through their slow gestation and their Biblical associations, subliminally carry fascinating associations of both paradise and danger.”

Alison Steadman said she thought the orchard was a brilliant idea - and that plans to have bees on the site would ensure the land produced "Heathrow honey instead of Heathrow runways". She told BBC News, "The British Airports Authority and the government now know that if they try to build this new runway they will have to dig up trees owned by and on behalf of millions of people from every area of British society.

"Some of those people will be there to stand in front of the bulldozers if they ever roll into the new orchard. The third runway cannot and will not be built."

November 17, 2009