Airport ban on demos

PLACARD waving campaigners could soon be banned from holding demonstrations at Bristol International Airport

PLACARD waving campaigners could soon be banned from holding demonstrations at Bristol International Airport.Airport chiefs want to outlaw protests by changing local bylaws and have asked the Government's Secretary of State for a change in the rules.Bosses at the Lulsgate site say the proposals are purely in the interests of safety and security and say it is common practice at airports across the country.But protestors believe it is an attempt to take away their freedom of speech.Last October, a group of teenage campaigners from Churchill Community School organised a demonstration at the airport to protest at its expansion plans in a draft 'masterplan'.More protests were expected to be organised when the full masterplan is released later this year.Friends of the Earth member Jeremy Birch said: "We believe the proposed changes to the bylaws are intended to restrict the freedom to express views in opposition to the airport's plans."Friends of the Earth is currently fighting the airport's proposed expansion and this is a controversial issue that many local communities oppose. These bylaw changes could outlaw orderly public demonstrations of these views."Any demonstrations that have been held so far at the airport by Friends of the Earth have all been small, peaceful and orderly and could in no way be seen to be unsafe or disruptive."An airport spokesman said: "The recent application to amend the bylaws at the airport will bring them in line with other airports across the country. "With regards to public demonstrations, our suggestions are not to prohibit all demonstrations at the airport, only those that may interfere with the safety of our customers or the operation of the airport."This is not in response to a specific situation and is part of an ongoing review of procedures and airport security.

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