Following the recent European Court of Human Rights' ruling that Heathrow was violating London residents' right to a good night's sleep, and the consequent government decision that in future "night flights policy will conform to the European Convention on Human Rights", Birmingham airport's long-suffering neighbours have decided to copy the London example and investigate taking Birmingham airport to court to ban night flights.
Tuesday's meeting facilitated by Birmingham FOE brought together over 50 local residents and several local councillors from various areas who were keen to get involved.
John Stewart from the campaign at Heathrow addressed the meeting to explain how they could take further action. The Heathrow campaign started at a meeting of similar size and has grown to several thousand. Speeches were well received and people not only discussed their experiences but also subjected the airport's representatives to a number of awkward questions.
There was some dynamic and forceful discussion in which all issues were discussed including the airport's impacts on health, pollution and noise levels. The meeting did not shy away from discussing employment and the economy but it was noted that this was the very issue on which the UK government had lost the Heathrow case: there was no evidence that night flights were sufficiently beneficial to the economy to justify the suffering of local residents.
When the meeting was asked whether they wished to form a residents' action group every hand in the room went up except those of the airport's representatives.
Brett Rehling of Birmingham FOE said "It's a big step forward for all those who feel their concerns have been ignored. It is so much easier to get results when people act together – it's really important that all the diverse communities around the airport get involved in this group, whether they are from Solihull or Birmingham." He added: "Having heard about the campaign a lawyer in the area has offered to take this on as a Human Rights case like the one at Heathrow"
Over a hundred people have already contacted FOE to express their interest in joining the action group. Everyone will be contacted to arrange the inaugural meeting of the group. Meetings may also be held in other areas to bring together further support. Initial thoughts for progress are to arrange a meeting between the newly formed group and local councillors.
Anyone who wishes to get involved in the residents' action group should initially contact Friends of the Earth on 0121 632 6909 until the new group is formally set up over the next few weeks.