Airport stunt condemned as poor taste

By Jenny OliveiraA PUBLICITY stunt organised by anti-Stansted Airport expansion campaigners to coincide with the anniversary of the D-Day landings has been condemned as being in poor taste.

By Jenny Oliveira

A PUBLICITY stunt organised by anti-Stansted Airport expansion campaigners to coincide with the anniversary of the D-Day landings has been condemned as being in poor taste.

A tank mounted with a 105mm howitzer gun fired mock rounds and “blew up” The Three Horseshoes pub in Molehill Green, near Stansted, during yesterday's stunt.

The tank, supplied by a collector of military vehicles, travelled to Molehill Green with a police escort.


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On arrival, three people - dressed to look like Prime Minister Tony Blair, his deputy John Prescott and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling - mounted the tank and pretended to attack the building.

Takeley district councillor Richard Harris said: “I was not invited to this event and although I have a certain sympathy with the protesters, I feel we have had enough of tanks and war at this time.

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“I would rather have seen a bulldozer or a ball and chain, the weapons of the modern-day vandals.”

The Rev Peter Street, chairman of the Dunmow History Society, who has close links to the parishes affected by the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport, agreed.

“The association with the anniversary of the D-Day landings is inappropriate because so many thousands lost their lives on that day,” he said.

“Stop Stansted Expansion is raising the wrong image, which could leave a tacky taste in the mouth.

“I am someone who fully supports the aims of their campaign, but a JCB and a wrecking ball would have been much better than a tank.”

Takeley district councillor Jackie Cheetham, a veteran airport campaigner, was more supportive of the stunt.

“It is a good idea if it makes the point that our heritage will be bulldozed down. We are trying to get the message across to the Government that we have a heritage here that we want to keep,” she said.

“We have so much to lose in the area, however, a bulldozer might have been a better tool to use.”

Stop Stansted Expansion campaign communications director, Carol Barbone, defended the use of a tank and the symbolic demolition of the 500-year-old Molehill Green pub.

“A whole community feels as though it is under siege with the possibility of massive airport expansion threatening everyone's well-being. Stop Stansted Expansion feels this is a battle,” she said.

“A tank is clearly a symbol of oppression. The Three Horseshoes is just one of 64 grade II-listed buildings which would be lost if three extra runways were built.”

A Stansted Airport spokesman said: “At this time we do not think that it is appropriate, considering the current terrorist threat.

“Having an explosion in such close proximity to the airport is not a good idea.”

Essex Police and Stansted Airport police were told of the publicity stunt and were present to ensure it went to plan.

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