10,000 people (and Emma Thompson) halt an airport's expansion with clever land purchase


As protests go, it's delightfully sneaky. Some of the vested interests at Heathrow, London's main airport, want to construct a third runway, obliterating a village in the process. While the airport-expansion forces were gathering, though, a group of protesters got together and secretly bought up a plot of land that sits exactly where the development is planned.

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Actress Emma Thompson is one of the some 10,000 people who will appear on the deed to the so-called Airplot, which is about half the size of a soccer field, and because she's high-profile, she's one of the names on the top of the ownership paperwork.

Becoming a land owner sure beats breaking things, living in a tree for a few years, or standing around bearing signs (although campaigners have done that last one, too). It's also not so expensive when large numbers of people contribute a small amount of money to legally make a statement about something they believe in. And as far as charitable donations go, helping buy a plot of land is a direct way to see where your money is spent, even if you won't be able to build a summer home there.

Thompson went on British TV to rail at the government, "almost incandescent" with rage (the video is here).