London's Metropolitan Police has vowed to "do everything in its power to prevent and stop" any attempt to disrupt operations at Heathrow, after reports that climate-change activists planned to fly drones within the UK airport's restricted airspace on 13 September.
The threat came from a group named Heathrow Pause, a faction within the Extinction Rebellion movement. Its attempt to ground flights was envisioned to be part of a wider protest at Heathrow.
Responding, the Met Police notes that Heathrow is "part of our national infrastructure" and states: "We will not allow the illegal activity of protesters to cause misery to thousands of air travellers. The dangers of flying drones in airspace used by airliners carrying passengers are stark and the consequences potentially very severe."
Heathrow Airport says that while it agrees on the need to act on climate change, this is a global challenge that requires constructive engagement and action. "Committing criminal offences and disrupting passengers is counterproductive," it states.
"Flying any form of drone near Heathrow is illegal and any persons found doing so will be subject to the full force of the law. We are working closely with the Met Police and will use our own drone-detection capability to mitigate the operational impact of any illegal use of drones near the airport."
Gatwick, London's second-busiest airport, suffered significant disruption over three days in December 2018 when drones were reported to be operating within its restricted airspace.