Two flights between Sumburgh and Aberdeen were cancelled on Tuesday morning after climate change protesters disrupted Dyce Airport by setting up a barricade on the runway.
The Plane Stupid campaign group cut through a perimeter fence at around 4am and built a “wire fortress” on the taxiway used for oil industry helicopters while others – dressed in the style of US property tycoon Donald Trump, who is backing expansion of the airport – climbed onto the terminal roof.
The 6.30am flight from Aberdeen to Sumburgh and the 8am flight in the opposite direction had to be cancelled and the 9.30am flight from Aberdeen arrived in Shetland half an hour late after the airport only reopened shortly after 9am. Sumburgh Airport manager Nigel Flaws said that Loganair then put on an additional flight in the afternoon to deal with the passenger backlog.
The airport did not have to be completely closed, but a number of other flights were delayed or prevented from landing for security reasons, with helicopter flights to North Sea oil rigs facing substantial disruption.
Several of Plane Stupid’s members were arrested at around 8.20am on Tuesday and most flights were able to resume soon after. Grampian Police confirmed that nine people had been taken into custody over the incident. They were released on Wednesday pending court action.
Plane Stupid said it was protesting at BAA’s plans for airport expansion because it wanted to draw attention to the fact that aviation is the fastest-growing source of climate emissions – contributing, it estimates, to at least 13 per cent of UK emissions – and that expanding airports contradicts the government’s aim of reducing emissions.
It set up a golf course on the taxiway and unfurled a banner reading “Nae Trump Games with Climate Change” and a spokesman said the group was taking action after the Scottish government gave its backing to the expansion of capacity at the airport by around 1.5 million passengers by 2015, saying First Minister Alex Salmond had let the country down.
A spokesman for BAA hit out at the protesters, condemning their behaviour as “dangerous and highly irresponsible”. He said: “Aberdeen is one of Europe’s busiest commercial heliports and a major transport centre for the north of Scotland, used by tens of thousands of people every day. There is no justification for this irresponsible action, which is deliberately calculated to delay and inconvenience the travelling public.”