London’s Heathrow Airport is on high alert as climate change protestors look to fly drones in proximity to the airport’s runways this Friday. The protesters, Heathrow Pause, are an offshoot of the larger Extinction Rebellion climate change group. They are protesting principally against the proposed third runway necessary for Heathrow’s expansion. Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Roger Hammond commented on the Heathrow plans, saying it would be the: “biggest carbon-intensive infrastructure project in Europe”.
Recent changes to drone flight laws, introduced after the chaos caused by drones at Gatwick Airport prior to Christmas 2108 which saw over 100,000 passengers’ flight affected, now forbid drones to be flown above 400ft and no closer than 1km from an airport. Heathrow Pause will be operating drones closer than 1km to runways, but have liaised with police, advising that they would only be flown at head height. However, the Metropolitan Police has warned protesters that this would constitute a criminal act and would lead to an arrest.
“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,” deputy assistant police commissioner Laurence Taylor warned, adding: “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.” Passengers who intended to use Heathrow this Friday have been urged not to change their travel plans for that day.