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Flight Path Poet Slams Airport's Centenary Celebration

news release

News Release

Embargo: 5pm, Monday 8th December 2003

Photo Opportunity

Immediately after the airport’s Cathedral service (we expect 5pm), Manchester Friends of the Earth volunteers will stage a funeral for the victims of flight at the entrance to the building, with a requiem.

On Monday 8th December outside Manchester Cathedral at the end of Manchester Airport’s celebratory service marking the centenary of powered flight (starting at 4pm, expected to end at 5pm) [1], Manchester Friends of the Earth [2] and poet Michael Gibson will stage a funeral for the victims of flight. The campaigners will be highlighting the harmful effects of aviation including noise, climate change emissions and loss of biodiversity.

Michael will recite and sing his work, which was written in response to the plans for Manchester Airport’s second runway. Manchester FoE will give out an ‘alternative history of flight’, stressing the importance of containing the growth of the industry.

100 years since the Wright brothers’ first powered flight on 17th December 1903:

  • aviation is the fastest growing consumer of energy in transport, and transport is the faster growing consumer of energy in every economic sector;
  • in effect, aviation accounts for 14% of UK carbon dioxide emissions;
  • less than 5% of people in the world have ever flown;
  • aviation accounts for only 1.4% of UK GDP.

In 30 years time, if current growth rates in the UK are provided for, we would need the equivalent of a new Heathrow every 5 years and aviation would, in effect, account for 36% of UK carbon dioxide emissions. Given policy commitments to reduce climate change emissions overall it could be as high as 60% of the total. In 1999, travel and tourism in the Maldives directly and indirectly accounted for 85.7% of GDP yet it is one of the low-lying islands extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Michael Gibson speaks from his own experiences: ‘Manchester Airport is a monster we must control. I lived ten blighted years in Mobberley under the flight path. At the public enquiry into the second runway I was a Major Participant. A book of poetry was part of my evidence against the applications. I recited and sang to the inspector. I shall do the same for you today.’

Kerstin Moritz, aviation campaigner with Manchester FoE said: ‘Manchester Airport is welcome to celebrate the centenary of powered flight. But it would be wrong not to remember the environmental and social destruction that airports and planes have caused. That’s why we are holding a funeral for the victims of aviation.’

More information about our aviation campaign is at


Notes to Editors

[1] Their press release is at: B42D0C92F1F9CBA480256DEC0059D5B4!OpenDocument

[2] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at

[3] Information from Upham, Maughan, Raper and Thomas (2003) ‘Towards Sustainable Aviation’, published by Earthscan.

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