Heathrow drone protest: Two held over climate change action

Drone Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Activists have been planning to fly drones within the exclusion zone at Heathrow Airport as part of protests over its expansion

Two men have been arrested at Heathrow in a bid to stop climate change protesters flying drones within the airport's exclusion zone.

Heathrow Pause said it intended to fly drones in the 5km exclusion zone around the airport on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, the airport confirmed flights are not being affected.

The Met Police said it was confident disruption would be kept to a minimum and a dispersal order has been put in place at the airport.

The two men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance while they were on public land, Met Police said.

The force initially said they were within the perimeter of the airport which it has since said was incorrect, adding there was no breach of airport security.

It said it would not comment on whether Heathrow Pause activists had been trying to fly drones into the exclusion zone.

Since Thursday, a total of three women and six men, aged between their 20s and 60s, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

According to social media, activists will remain at the airport for the next 48 hours.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Met Police said it had put in place a 5km dispersal zone order around Heathrow to protect safety at the airport

The Met Police said a dispersal order at the airport would be effective until early on Sunday morning.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "We are really clear that [flying drones] is unlawful, it is a criminal offence, and anybody who turns up expecting to fly drones in that exclusion zone will be arrested."

The force made seven pre-emptive arrests on Thursday, when officers caught suspected would-be drone pilots, including Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam, ahead of the planned action.

Heathrow Airport said it was committed to addressing climate change, but this was best tackled through "constructive engagement and working together to address the issue".

A live Twitter stream apparently launched by protesters at Heathrow suggested two people had been struggling to get a drone off the ground.

Heathrow Pause claimed the airport was using "signal jamming to frustrate" early drone flights.

Both the airport and police refused to comment on "security matters".

Image caption Activist James Brown said the issue of climate change was too serious to ignore

Expansion 'illogical'

One protester at the airport, James Brown, travelled from Exeter to get involved in the action.

Mr Brown, a 54-year-old former GB and Ireland paralympian, said: "It's largely a protest against the fact our government declared a climate emergency in April and straight after approved a third runway for Heathrow. There's no logic to that.

"Any disruption that might be caused to travellers is nothing compared to the imminent climate breakdown we are facing.

"We are running out of time to sort this out."

Mr Brown, who is registered blind, simply held the drone above his head inside the exclusion zone and said he would be handing himself to police for arrest.

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