Heathrow rules stipulate that it must temporarily close should a drone be spotted within its five-kilometre (three-mile) exclusion zone Photo: AFP/File
world

Climate campaigners plan Heathrow drone shutdown

13 Comments
By Dmitry ZAKS

Climate activists planned to fly toy drones around London's Heathrow Airport on Friday in a controversial effort to shut down Europe's busiest travel hub over the weekend.

The campaign by Heathrow Pause -- an offshoot of the Extinction Rebellion group backed by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg -- had been set to kick off shortly before the international airport opened at 03:30 a.m.

But it had to rearrange plans at the last moment after the police arrested five of its leading members on Thursday "on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance".

The first flights from Asia arrived at Heathrow on schedule.

"Like-minded citizens just know that what we are doing is not a criminal act," group member Sylvia Dell told AFP as she prepared to fly her own drone in the coming days.

The retired mother-of-four said she was stirred to action by a United Nations report warning governments in October they had 12 years left to stop the earth from warming to dangerous levels.

"We're the fire alarm ringing in the middle of the night telling people to wake up, your house is on fire," Dell said.

The campaigners' official aim is to prevent construction of a third Heathrow runway and to cut harmful gas emissions to a net level of zero by 2025.

Yet their chosen means of protest also points to the hazards drones of any size pose to airports long term. Heathrow rules stipulate that it must temporarily close should a drone be spotted within its five-kilometer exclusion zone.

It was expected to make exceptions should this only involve miniature drones flying close to the ground and away from runways or flight paths -- the rules Heathrow Pause intends to keep.

Several still-unexplained drone sightings around Heathrow and London's Gatwick Airport shut those down for brief stretches over the winter holidays.

The group's members have met airport representatives and the London police to arrange precautionary measures aimed at avoiding accidents.

They intend to fly the miniature drones at head height at hourly intervals that aim to keep the airport closed continuously for up to five days.

"You need to make disruption painful before the authorities take notice," Dell said.

An airport spokeswoman said Heathrow agreed "with the need to act on climate change" but condemned the campaigners' methods.

"We are disappointed that they plan to continue flying drones," the spokeswoman told AFP. "It is counter-productive and criminal."

London police arrested three men and two women on Thursday to prevent "criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure".

Heathrow Pause said two of them were handcuffed after demonstrating drone flights outside the exclusion zone to a reporting crew.

Dell said she faced "years" in jail because of two prior arrests during an Extinction Rebellion protest that ground parts of London to a halt for more than a week in April.

"Prison is a terrifying prospect," she said.

But "I find the prospect of not acting and allowing the world to collapse -- that's more terrifying for me."

Heathrow flies more than 200,000 passengers daily on around 1,300 flights.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


13 Comments
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Hopefully this eco-terrorism is worth the effort and in due time, those who remain of humanity, will be greatful to their hardcore ancestors.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

Shoot the damn drones out the sky and give these 'activists' to those who's flights have been affected.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

This type of action won't do much to endear them to the wider populace.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Just remind these activists that there are disabled transgender people of color on these flights looking to claim asylum once they land at Heathrow. That should give them a crisis of conscience.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The leader of this group has posted several essays online as to how he wants to bring down global governments and societies. Another political extremist highjacking a serious cause to promote their anarchy and it denegrates the efforts of all those who are trying to get governments and individuals to tackle climate change.

As for the silly idiots who think flying drones near an airport is acceptable, they will see arrest as some kind of martyrdom to impress their guests at dinner parties.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It will be funny when all these climate campaigners finally realize they are just pawns used by the lobby machine of the new multibillion "green" industry.

It will be even more funny when they find out the people behind this "green" industry are the same globalist companies and investors that are controlling the masses today and who don't give a twat about the environment, they just found another way to gain money and power control seeing as their old tricks are starting to wear off.

It's one things these climate campaigners are completely annoying but it's another thing entirely when they are engaging in eco-terrorism as is the case here and I hope they will be punished to the full extent of the law.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The drones aren't flying, the signals are being jammed.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/13/heathrow-protests-two-held-near-airport-as-activists-threaten-drone-disruption

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Like-minded citizens just know that what we are doing is not a criminal act,"

Um, no... I'm pretty sure it is. It's also inconsiderate and a dick thing to do.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Arrest them all and fine them 10,000. Do that every time they disrupt other people trying to enjoy their freedom of travel.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Arrest them all and fine them 10,000. Do that every time they disrupt other people trying to enjoy their freedom of travel.

Why would a UK court issue a fine in Euros? Besides, this sort of crime carries a custodial sentence.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Like-minded citizens just know that what we are doing is not a criminal act," group member Sylvia Dell told AFP as she prepared to fly her own drone in the coming days.

"You need to make disruption painful before the authorities take notice," Dell said.

Statements such as these only prove that these eco-terrorists are mad/crazy, and are willing to put other peoples lives in danger, as it serves their own purpose.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is about celebrity. U.K. is obviously lax in it's expectations of these groups motive. Surely any accident causing loss of life, caused by these yankers will chaulk up to freedoms of expression in sympathy and fear of the causes activists and linked media.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is about celebrity. U.K. is obviously lax in it's expectations of these groups motive. Surely any accident causing loss of life, caused by these yankers will chaulk up to freedoms of expression in sympathy and fear of the causes activists and linked media.

Unsurprising considering it's source, a wholly inaccurate and ignorant statement.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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