Heathrow Airport is the threatened target of Extinction Rebellion climate change protestors next week. The movement has said it intends to close the London airport on 18 June as they plead with the government to cancel all Heathrow expansion. Extinction Rebellion has said if authorities do not do so, they will shut down the hub again for up to 10 days from 1 July. Today, the Met Police issued a warning to activists, cautioning that “anyone caught illegally using a drone can expect to be dealt with in line with the law.”
Extinction Rebellion released a statement last month, saying: “On June 18 we plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow Authorities close the airport for the day, to create a ‘pause’ in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the natural world.
“If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, Extinction Rebellion will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1.”
Extinction Rebellion is opposed to the planned third runway at Heathrow as it would make the airport “the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK.”
However, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor has reassured holidaymakers that a plan is in place to keep London safe.
Taylor said: “We are aware of Extinction Rebellion’s intention to stage a protest at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, 18 June. An appropriate policing plan involving specialist officers from across the Met is in place.
“This plan covers the unique challenges that come with a protest being held at an airport. We are determined to play our part in keeping the airspace over London’s airports safe for the thousands of planes flying in and out every week.”
He added: “We will be deploying resources – both in terms of officers and equipment – to monitor the airspace around Heathrow and quickly detect and disrupt any illegal drone activity.
“While it is our duty to deliver an appropriate plan for this protest, I want to make clear the impact this kind of activity has on frontline policing.
“This has the potential to cause widespread disruption, and in order to prevent this happening we have drawn vital police resources from across the capital.”
Taylor concluded: “Protests of this nature can cause significant disruption to people, but I want to reassure the public that we have a very experienced command team in place for this operation. We will work hard to keep you as informed as possible throughout.”
Extinction Rebellion is aware of the impact their action could have on holidaymakers but believe the cause is greater.
“We understand the action will cause disruption to a great number of holidaymakers, however, we believe that it is necessary given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse if we don’t act now,” their statement said.
“Holidaymakers are being given advance notice to change travel plans.”
A Heathrow Airport spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “This is reckless action that if carried out could endanger the lives of the travelling public and our colleagues.
“We agree with the need to act on climate change, but that requires us to work together constructively – not commit serious criminal offences just as hardworking people prepare to spend a well-earned holiday with their family and friends.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Heathrow and Extinction Rebellion for further comment.
Travel expert Simon Calder wrote in The Independent that: “Anything other than temporary disruption is unlikely.”