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Drone Conference in Bath Defeated

Matt Banning | 10.06.2012 16:13 | Anti-militarism | Technology | Terror War

Before the main protests had even begun, Bath Stop The Drones campaign gets to make a sigh of relief after Clarion Events and their international drones conference backs down.

According to the Bath Chronicle, Clarion have decided to pull out of the event, after all!:

“Drone conference to be moved out of Bath

A conference showcasing the use of high-tech aerial drones which was due to be held in Bath later this month has been moved to a bigger venue outside the city.

This year’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) conference had been due to take place at the Assembly Rooms in the city centre.

But organisers say they have been forced to move it somewhere bigger after an unexpected demand for places.

The event from June 25 to 27 would have been greeted by protests, with a new group called Bath Stop the Drones holding a five-hour public meeting on Saturday to discuss plans to oppose the event.

Peace campaigners had tried to persuade Bath and North East Somerset Council to withdraw permission for the conference to use the venue, but the authority stood its ground, saying the city had long links with the defence industry.

The event will now be held at the conference’s academic partner Cranfield University’s campus in Shrivenham in Wiltshire.

Duncan Reid, spokesman for UAS, said as well as more space, the university campus site also provided a number of pre-existing static displays of UAVs.

He said: “The surge in demand has been attributed to greater press coverage than a specialist conference of this type would usually receive and a greater focus on the growing civilian, humanitarian and commercial sectors which these vehicles are used for in addition to their military uses.”

The conference will showcase military and civilian use of unmanned aerial devices, with topics on the agenda including the use of aerial surveillance to combat fly-tipping and observe traffic congestion, its applications in meteorology, as well as its potential for improving border security.

Mr Reid added: “It is great that our programme has attracted such interest from across the emergency services and the armed forces so we’ve had to find a new location with a much larger capacity.

“UAVs have often been associated with military support but growing interest in commercial and civilian uses is helping drive growth.

“Our academic partner, Cranfield University at Shrivenham, was able to provide a new much larger venue with plenty of space not just for conference delegates but also static displays of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Most of the attendees are from the UK MoD so are familiar with the venue as well.”

The withdrawal of the event from Bath will mean the city losing out on lucrative accommodation bookings.”

Whilst part of our objective has been served with the move – the death dealers are now out of our backyard – several in the BSTD campaign still intend to follow them to their new location and communicate our message: illegal assassination and anti-civilian terror tactics are no more acceptable now in this ‘civilised’ era than it ever has been in all the horrors of our war-torn past.

Sources within the LibDems stated unofficially that the original decision to allow the conference to go ahead at the Assembly Rooms – and the negative publicity repercussions that followed – had begun to tear the local LibDems apart, aiming disgust at the leadership. Under no circumstances could the council then go and cancel the event without the threat of destructive lawsuits from Clarion – if so, B&NES should go ahead and sue Clarion back the dark ages for their renegement of the contract!

But, what is more likely is that the council finally grew a pair once the realisation hit home of the s***storm of outrage and dissent that would accompany the event, and disruption from the inevitable protest, and told Clarion where to go. Even local police are allegedly glad the conference has been withdrawn.

Also in the article, you’ll notice a telling discrepancy: if the decision to move was all about ‘a greater focus on the growing civilian, humanitarian and commercial sectors’ (can we really afford overpriced UAV-monitored fly-tipping in this time of Con-Dem austerity?), then why is it that ‘Most of the attendees are from the UK MoD’?

So, did they jump, or were they pushed?

Matt Banning
- e-mail: bathstopdrones[at]
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