Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Greenpeace selling plots of land at Heathrow

The Times has news of a new tactic against the building of a third runway at Heathrow:

Greenpeace has bought a field the size of a football pitch and plans to invite protesters to dig networks of tunnels across it, similar to those built in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Newbury bypass in 1996. The group also plans to divide the field into thousands of tiny plots, each with a separate owner. BAA, the airport's owner, would be forced to negotiate with each owner, lengthening the compulsory purchase process.
The Greenpeace website suggests that dividing up the land between numerous owners is not as easy as it sounds:

As legal owners of this plot we will take the opportunity to oppose airport expansion at every stage in the planning process. We're joined on the deeds by Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson, comedian Alistair McGowan and prospective Tory parliamentary candidate Zac Goldsmith. Along with Greenpeace UK, that's the maximum number of owners we can put on the deed, but you can sign up to add your name and stand beside us to resist all attempts of a compulsory purchase of the land.

You'll be joining beneficial owners who've already signed-up including local Labour MP John McDonnell, Tory frontbench spokeswoman Justine Greening, Lib Dem MP Susan Kramer, environmentalist George Monbiot and acclaimed climate scientist and Royal Society Research Fellow Dr Simon Lewis.

Whatever their intentions, I wish Greenpeace well with this. Though I do remember Friends of the Earth trying to use a similar tactic to prevent a road being built across Otmoor in Oxfordshire and getting nowhere.


Liberal Polemic said...

I would have thought that "compulsory purchase", by definition, did not require much negotiation. BAA may need to negotiate, but if they are unsuccessful the Government may step in and just buy the land by force.

Having said that, I have been told that compulsory purchase has to be made above the market rate (can't remember by how much) and that if the land is not then used for the agreed purpose within a set amount of time it reverts to being the property of the original owner.

If nothing else, this is an opportunity to make a fast buck!

dreamingspire said...

One commentator on R4 yesterday said that 2008 legislation has made compulsory purchase easier. He expected it to frustrate Greenpeace even if they sell on the land in small parcels.