Heathrow Airport; Will flights be affected by Extinction Rebellion protests this summer?

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[express.co.uk]
By HARRIET MALLINSON
PUBLISHED: 13:45, Wed, Jun 5, 2019 | UPDATED: 18:51, Wed, Jun 5, 2019

Heathrow Airport has been named as a target by climate change movement Extinction Rebellion. The group have threatened to close the busy hub for up to 11 days this summer. The first day of proposed action comes in two weeks on 18 June with further disruption planned for the beginning of July. So what will the action from Extinction Rebellion mean for you? Will flights be affected?

It said: “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.”

The Met Police have warned the climate change group that using drones at Heathrow would be “reckless in the extreme.”

Sir Stephen House, Deputy Commissioner of the Met Police, said at the London Assembly yesterday: “I would take this moment to urge Extinction Rebellion not to use drones at Heathrow. Not least from the public safety point of view.

“They are extremely dangerous. Particularly in a crowded airspace like Heathrow. To do so would be reckless in the extreme and would therefore attract some pretty severe penalties in legislation were they to do so.

“We’ve read the reports themselves and we are looking into the matter. That’s not to say more powers won’t come along.

“If it’s used more – people may feel we need more legislation at least more draconian. Because it’s a threat to public safety.”

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,” they said.

“Holidaymakers are being given advance notice to change travel plans.”

Heathrow Airport has said they have invited members of the group to meet for constructive discussion and are waiting for them to suggest a date.

A Heathrow spokesperson 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.”

So should travellers worry? Travel expert Simon Calder wrote for The Independent predicting: “Anything other than temporary disruption is unlikely.”

Police presence will be heavily felt on the ground and anyone found operating an unauthorised drone could be imprisoned for endangering aircraft.

What’s more, Extinction Rebellion could face a loss of public sympathy if flights are disrupted, Calder said.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Met Police and the Department of Transport for further comment.

 

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