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Climate-change protesters delay planned Heathrow action

Climate-change protesters in the UK have paused plans for action intended to disrupt services at London Heathrow airport during June or July, though are not ruling out future measures in protest at the airport's expansion.

At the end of May, it emerged that Extinction Rebellion planned "nonviolent direct action" on 18 June, targeting closure of the airport for a day, and would escalate efforts in July if demands were not met.

"Extinction Rebellion will not be carrying out any actions at Heathrow airport in June or July this year, aimed at causing disruption to holidaymakers and those planning to use the airport in this period. The Heathrow airport authorities will therefore not have to pause any summer flights," the group says in a statement today.

It notes the "fear and apprehension" that has "swirled" since what it calls "an internal proposal" was leaked to the media. "The subsequent accusation that Extinction Rebellion was willing to endanger life is a depressing and predictable smear," it says.

"For absolute clarity, Extinction Rebellion has not removed Heathrow airport from its strategic planning," it adds. "The government's go-ahead for the airport authorities to begin building a third runway could not be more incompatible with the imperative to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions globally."

It says any action taken by the group at Heathrow airport "will adhere completely" to a total commitment to nonviolence and passenger safety.

The group specifies that if drones are used as part of the action, they will not be flown within flightpaths. While it may operate drones within the restricted 5km zone surrounding Heathrow, these would be lightweight and would fly no higher than six feet. "It is Extinction Rebellion's contention that flying a lightweight drone at a maximum height of six feet, outside flight paths, poses no risk to passing aircraft," it says.

"The airport authorities and the general public be given two months' advance notice of the start date and time of any planned action," the group adds. "This notice period provides an appropriate period for the authorities to safely plan the closure of the airport for the duration of the action. We hope it also provides members of the general public with sufficient time to seek alternative travel arrangements if necessary.

"The reality is that we do not want to plan any action at Heathrow that leads to the orderly and safe closure of airspace. However, government inaction compels us to act."

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