Yesterday, a group of environmental activists from the group Plane Stupid, with terrifying ease, gained access to a supposedly secure area of Stansted airport – Britain’s third busiest and London’s third largest – bringing its operation crashing to a halt.
Whatever the merits of the protest – and the apparently unending expansion of London’s airports, set against a background of accelerating climate change, suggests the merits were considerable – their point was made with minimal damage, and no-one was hurt, merely inconvenienced.
Consider, however, that if a group of relatively harmless protesters can gain access, while apparently, they believe, under surveillance by the authorities, then a group of terrorists could have brought death and destruction on a huge scale to Stansted.
The protesters are now in custody, and will doubtless answer for the “crimes” in court. If there’s any justice, whoever is responsible for security at Stansted – and there seems little reason to suppose security at other airports is any better – should be in deep shit, too, because somebody was asleep at the switch. BAA says that the group was spotted almost as soon as it began cutting the fence by a security guard, who contacted a nearby patrol, and the police. Even so, one group managed to do exactly what they’d set out to do, so the response seems to have been a little inadequate, though a second group was arrested before they could gain access.
The protesters were hardly inconspicuous, arriving in vans and an old fire-engine, among other vehicles, and yet nobody noticed them until it was far too late. Half a dozen armed men, with automatic weapons and bombs would have been far less conspicuous, and we should be thankful that a serious terrorist attack on an airport hasn’t happened yet (other than the Glasgow event), because if airport security is so poor, it sure as hell will happen one day.