A group called Heathrow Pause, an splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, planned to disrupt flights at the UK’s busiest airport tomorrow. Activists said yesterday that the devices would be flown on Friday at head height and away from flight paths to avoid safety risks. But the Metropolitan Police said the action would be criminal and anyone taking part would be arrested.
The five eco-worriers, three men and two women, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance in relation to operations at Heathrow airport, the Met Police said.
Members said its activists were “prepared to pay a very high price” to protest against the planned third runway.
Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We have carried out these arrests today in response to proposed plans for illegal drone use near Heathrow Airport which protest group Heathrow Pause have said will take place tomorrow morning.
“Our policing plan is aimed at preventing criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport, and the thousands of passengers that will be using it.
“We have warned previously that arrests would be made if this activity continued.
“In these circumstances, we believe these arrests to be a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure.
“We remain fully prepared for the planned protest tomorrow, and will work quickly to identify criminal activity and arrest anyone committing offences.”
The officer advised Heathrow passengers to travel as normal.
Frontline officers have been drafted in from other areas of the Met to tackle the protest, while a meeting was held between Heathrow Pause activists and the force earlier this week to discuss Friday’s action.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “Flying a drone within 5km of Heathrow is illegal and any persons found doing so will be subject to the full force of the law.”
He added: “We agree with the need to act on climate change but driving change requires constructive engagement and action.
“Committing criminal offences and disrupting passenger journeys is counterproductive and irresponsible.”
Heathrow Pause said those flying drones were committed to: “Non-violence, transparency and accountability and to cooperating with the police as far as possible.”
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