Marechaussee arrests more than 200 climate activists after action at Schiphol | NOW

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee arrested more than two hundred climate activists from Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace on Saturday because they blocked private planes at Schiphol. The Marechaussee first called on people to leave and then began arresting the remaining protesters.

The last activists are still linked to one or more private planes. According to the Marechaussee, the detainees are “registered and identified”. Then the prosecutor’s office decides what to do with them. “They have all committed a criminal act,” said a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee.

On Saturday, the activists stormed the area where the private planes are located. They sat under the planes and wings to block the planes from being used. When they did not go after a call, the Marechaussee made arrests.

The Marechaussee has violently arrested a group of cycling demonstrators. The protesters were pulled from their bikes and arrested. Some of them did not cooperate and had to be dragged along. In a response, Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace said they were “appalled by the unnecessary violence by the police special unit in our action.”

In a statement, the campaign groups said around five hundred people attended the rally. The goal was to shut down air traffic for as long as possible. A gate had been opened in the parking lot near the runway. The activists probably reached the site that way.

Flight with patient diverters

Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion talk about a successful campaign. “Schiphol has to shrink considerably,” says Faiza Oulahsen from Greenpeace. “It doesn’t make sense that so many private planes depart from the airport every day.”

The trade association for the commercial aviation sector EBAA says the action was to divert a flight with a patient on board. The organization says the “completely unacceptable manifestation” could cost lives.

The activists do not agree with the accusation: “We only blocked the stationary private planes on the platform. Arriving planes are not hindered by this action.” Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion claim that the diverted flight would not have been necessary for their action. A Schiphol spokesman confirms this.

A spokesperson for EBAA tells that much was still unclear at the time of the flight. “The flight operator saw on the news the hundreds of protesters in an area where they were not allowed to be.” Then, together with the pilot, he decided to swing.

Mayor Marianne Schuurmans of Haarlemmermeer, which includes Schiphol, does not have a kind word for the activists. “This has nothing to do with the demonstration as agreed. This action is prohibited, dangerous and punishable.” Schuurmans says that “all direct and indirect damages will be recovered from the activists and organizers”.

GroenLinks and others hold their own actions

The action by Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace does not appear to be part of the other demonstrations taking place at the airport on Saturday.

A demonstration for shrinking aviation will also be held at Schiphol Plaza on Saturday. Speakers from GroenLinks, Milieudefensie, FossielvrijNL and Party for the Animals will be present. “For years aviation has given us promises. Promises of less emissions, less noise, less pollution. But Schiphol has grown in the meantime,” said one of the speakers.

There was also a protest march to the construction site for a new terminal. The road past the future terminal was briefly blocked. Schiphol warned travelers of the protesters’ presence.

Emissions per passenger five to six times greater with private aviation

Previously, the research agency CE Delft, commissioned by Greenpeace, researched private flights from Schiphol and Rotterdam The Hague Airport. In the first nine months of this year, more private planes took off than in all of 2019, the last ‘normal’ year before the corona pandemic. According to flight data, more than a third of these flights were shorter than 500 kilometers. Almost 11 percent were even shorter than 250 kilometers.

According to the researchers, the emissions per passenger are five to six times higher on a private flight than on a scheduled flight. A flight from Schiphol to London on a scheduled flight leads to around 40 kilos of CO2 emissions per passenger. With a private plane, the emissions are between 203 and 302 kilos.

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