Heathrow Airport will be the target of climate change activists tomorrow. Heathrow Pause - a breakaway group from Extinction Rebellion - want to ha
Heathrow Airport will be the target of climate change activists tomorrow. Heathrow Pause – a breakaway group from Extinction Rebellion – want to halt planned expansion at the London airport. The activists want to prevent all flying at Heathrow by flying drones within the Heathrow five km exclusion zone. They plan to start their action at three am tomorrow – so will Heathrow flights be impacted?
Heathrow Pause protestors have said they will give Heathrow Airport Authority at least one hours advance notice before each drone flight.
They said in a statement: “Drones will fly at regular intervals throughout the day.
“Continual drone flights during the day will ensure that, to comply with Heathrow’s own rules, no aircraft flights take place.”
The drones, which are small and lightweight, will be flown no higher than at head height and won’t be within flight paths.
Heathrow Pause will also call the police once the action is completed. “Drone pilots will telephone the police after their drone flight is completed for the day and wait peacefully to be arrested,” they said.
The group added that in the case of a genuine emergency all drone use will stop immediately.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has previously said: “It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.
“Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations.”
It’s impossible to predict whether flights will be disputed until the scale of the drone action becomes apparent.
Heathrow Airport has said they intend for the airport to remain open with security measures in place.
The hub said in a statement: “We are working closely with the authorities to ensure Heathrow airport will remain open on 13 September despite the threat of illegal protest activity involving the use of drones.
“We have in place dynamic risk-assessment programmes which are carried out by airfield and security experts and at no time will safety be compromised.
“Alongside drone detection capabilities, we will mitigate the impact of this illegal action and operate in a way that is safe at all times.”
Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said yesterday: “Far from this being a lawful protest, this is the deliberate and criminal targeting of an essential part of the UK’s national infrastructure that thousands of people rely on every day and it will not be tolerated.
“We would urge anyone planning to take part in this activity to reconsider. Airspace around all airports is restricted for public safety and security, and we take the flying of a drone within airspace used by passenger planes very seriously. Anyone caught flying a drone without permission must expect to be arrested and prosecuted.”
Taylor added: “There are a range of detect, identify and counter drone tactics deployed which give us the capability to respond to drones being flown illegally in restricted airspace.
“The police’s job is to detect and stop criminal activity in a proportionate way, and there is a robust policing plan in place to ensure that we are in a position to deal with any illegal activity as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“We will be deploying extra officers for this operation, and the plan covers the unique challenges that come with a protest targeting the airport and the surrounding areas.”
Many aircraft due to land at Heathrow tomorrow will carry additional fuel should they need to hold or divert.
If flights are disrupted by the drones action tomorrow, airlines must provide alternative transport and meals, as well as accommodation if needs be.
According to Heathrow Pause: “Heathrow emits 18 million tons of CO2 a year. Around the world there are 118 countries whose total emissions are less than Heathrow Airport’s.
“A third runway will produce a further 7.3 million tons, harming us and our children, devastating wildlife, shattering communities, damaging the natural environment probably beyond repair – certainly in our lifetime – and accelerating the already lethal pace of global heating.”
In December 2018 Gatwick Airport flights were severely disrupted by drone action.