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Protests at Heathrow Airport lead to increased security

London’s Heathrow Airport has drastically increased its level of security—most evidently visible by the number of police officers in the area—due to the arrival of hundreds of environmentalists who have set up camp around the terminals in order to raise awareness of how airlines are contributing to pollution and global warming. The number of police officers now in the area stands at over 1,800. While the protesters revealed on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) nightly news broadcast, The National, that they do not intend to block runways or disrupt air travel, the airport authority is still taking no chances. Gary Dwyer, one of the lead protesters, also confirmed this to US-based ABC News, observing the paramount importance of public safety.

The protesters have erected what might be described as a ‘tent city’ near Heathrow’s northern perimeter fence and are also protesting recently revealed plans to build another runway in the near future, as well as the construction of a fifth terminal. The number of protesters is likely to swell to several thousand over the course of the week-long camp-out and demonstration.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has recognized that demonstrators do have the right to protest, but he also made it clear that any disruptive behaviour would not be tolerated. Mark Bullock, a director at BAA, the company that operates Heathrow, has also suggested that the airport’s key responsibility is to ensure public safety by deterring any potential terrorist attacks, especially in light of the heightened sense of vigilance following the recent failed car bomb attacks in the

UK. There were some reports published in the Scotsman that London Metropolitan Police have used anti-terror laws to search and detain environmental protesters.



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