A group of climate campaigners broke through a runway perimeter fence at London’s Heathrow Airport early yesterday morning. The 13 Plane Stupid activists then chained themselves together and to fencing on the facility’s north runway at 03:30.
The protest action caused Heathrow to cancel 22 flights, seven of which were British Airways operated. A Heathrow spokesperson noted other flights had been delayed, but short-haul flights could still use the north runway and the south runway was operating to schedule.
Police called to the scene were forced to bring heavy-duty cutting equipment to cut off the armlocks and separate the protestors from each other and also from the fencing. A spokesperson for the London Metropolitan Police said officers first arrived at the runway at 03:45.
He continued by saying it took seven hours to separate the first nine protestors and that the remaining four were carried to another area to complete the operation. The representative later confirmed all 13 were in police custody and were facing charges under the Aviation Act.
The spokesperson also noted the Metropolitan force and Heathrow Airport Limited collaborated on security matters and would be reviewing the incident and adjusting procedures accordingly. He finished off by saying that the safety of the travelling public and the airport’s staff was of paramount importance.
The Plane Stupid activists claimed they were protesting against climate change and the expansion of Heathrow’s operations capability with the addition of a third runway. They warned that the protest was a foretaste of similar ones to come.