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Teenagers facing prison over airport eco protest

PUBLISHED: 10:12 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:44 07 September 2010

TWO teenagers are facing Christmas with a prison sentence looming over them after admitting their part in an airport protest which led to the cancellation of more than 50 flights. Joe Ryle, 18, from Hornsey and Oliver Robinson, 19, from Muswell Hill, wer

TWO teenagers are facing Christmas with a prison sentence looming over them after admitting their part in an airport protest which led to the cancellation of more than 50 flights.

Joe Ryle, 18, from Hornsey and Oliver Robinson, 19, from Muswell Hill, were two of the youngest protesters in a group of eight at Harlow Magistrates Court last Thursday.

They will be sentenced on January 7 when they will face up to two months in prison and a £2,500 fine.

The group joined 49 other protesters from campaign group, Plane Stupid, who camped out on the runway at Stansted Airport in Essex on December 8. The protest, which began at 3.15am and ended at about 8am, caused the cancellation of 52 Ryanair flights and disrupted more than 50,000 people's journeys.

Joe, who lives in South View Road, Hornsey, is currently studying three A-levels at Highgate Wood School and plans to study geography or environmental sustainability at Leeds University next year.

He told Broadway: "The starting point was a couple of years ago when I watched Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, at school. I didn't know anything about it before then. It's worrying because there are millions of kids out there who know nothing about climate change.

"I knew it was an important issue but to see it being talked about made me realise we were in trouble. Then I went to a conference in Westminster where I met like-minded people and other young people.

"I've been to discussions and written to MPs but they're not doing anything. Direct action is the only way I feel I can get my point across.

"The Stansted protest was the first action I had taken. I thought I would be more scared but there was a good team. I had never been arrested before and I knew it would happen at the protest and I was willing to take the consequences.

"I didn't know what to expect. Other people had brought books with them to read in their police cells.

"Afterwards, most of my friends and family thought I was a hero. We discussed it in a geography class at school."

Mr Ryle and Mr Robinson have been released on bail with conditions, including staying away from an airport unless a "bona-fide airport passenger", until their next court appearance, joined by the other protesters.

A spokesman from Stansted said: "Any unlawful or irresponsible behaviour aimed at disrupting the smooth operation of the airport is unacceptable. People should engage in the relevant independent planning inquiries in an open, honest and safe way."

Mr Ryle has not been disheartened by his experiences and plans to attend a climate rush at Heathrow on January 12.

"There will be similar things next year," he said.


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