THE ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN to Heathrow airport, the Revd Phil Hughes, has distanced himself from the anti-expansion protest being staged next to the airport this week.
Mr Hughes is Priest-in-Charge of St Mary the Virgin, Harmondsworth, a parish in the shadow of the airport, and a police chaplain. Speaking on Monday at the beginning of the week-long protest, he said that he feared the protest would be hijacked. “I am not involved. Of course, there are some well-meaning people, but sadly the view is that it will be taken over by troublemakers who will jump on the bandwagon. I will not have anything to do with a protest that disrupts activities at the airport.”
He said that he had always been behind the campaign run by residents, as the proposed third runway would run through the parish and decimate the village of Sipson on the edge of Harmondsworth. “Residents feel that there has been a catalogue of broken promises from the airport. Terminal Five was built within the airport confines and is fine, but, of course, then the authorities announced that a new runway was needed.
“There has been a No Third Runway Action Group running for a number of years. It is a law-abiding protest group, and I support that.”
He said that he had always managed to combine his chaplaincy work with that of parish priest “without overstepping the mark”, but he was concerned that any disruptive action this week could reflect badly on the long-term protesters.
“People have no right to disrupt other people’s lives and holidays. I hope the protests do not come to this.”