Heathrow protest fails to take off as drones ‘blocked by signal jammers’

Written by on 13/09/2019

Climate change activists have failed to cause disruption at Heathrow Airport by flying drones after claiming the gadgets were blocked by “signal jamming”.

Heathrow Pause – a splinter of the Extinction Rebellion movement – intended to fly the machines in the airport’s 3.1-mile (5km) exclusion zone, potentially disrupting hundreds of flights.

The protest group said it had attempted three drone flights on Friday, with at least one successful, and 11 activists had been arrested, including former paralympian James Brown.

But Heathrow said it was “fully operational despite attempts to disrupt the airport through the illegal use of drones”.

The Metropolitan Police has only confirmed nine arrests during Thursday and Friday.

Before his arrest, Mr Brown said as many as 35 people were trying to fly drones at Heathrow and there were “lots and lots of people” still out there.

A statement from Heathrow Pause said: “Thank you to our brave pilots. There are more of us ready to take their place.

“We will not stand by and allow this planet killing monstrosity to expand.”

The activists had earlier complained that “signal jamming” at the airport was frustrating their efforts to launch drones.

Two men were arrested in the early hours of Friday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance within the perimeter of Heathrow.

It comes after seven people – including Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder Roger Hallam – were detained on Thursday ahead of the planned protest.

A live stream video shared on Heathrow Pause’s Twitter account early on Friday showed two people struggling to get a drone off the ground.

The two men, filming themselves near a road, said they were experiencing “a technical glitch”.

In a post on Twitter, the protest group said: “Heathrow using signal jamming to frustrate early flights.”

The Met said a dispersal order had been put in place at Heathrow until 4.30am on Sunday “to prevent criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport”.

A large police presence was seen in the airport area on Friday morning and protesters have been warned they could be handed life sentences if they are found to be endangering the lives of passengers.

The planned protest action is meant to ground flights and put pressure on the government to take tougher steps to reduce carbon emissions.

In a statement on Friday, Heathrow Airport confirmed its runways were open as normal and said it was committed to addressing climate change.

“We agree with the need for climate change action but illegal protest activity designed with the intention of disrupting thousands of people is not the answer,” the airport said.

Heathrow said it was determined to remain operational during potential disruption, which comes shortly after British Airways pilots staged a 48-hour strike in a row over pay, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

The planned demonstration at Heathrow is the latest in a string of climate change protests this year.

They included widespread action in London in April which saw Extinction Rebellion bring sites including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge to a standstill.

Extinction Rebellion activists are also staging protests at London Fashion Week.

Five activists from the group, wearing white dresses and “bleeding hearts”, glued themselves to the main entrance of the show on Friday.

Other members of the group poured buckets of fake blood around the entrance.

The activists say they want the fashion industry to “tell the truth” about its contribution to the climate crisis.

(c) Sky News 2019: Heathrow protest fails to take off as drones ‘blocked by signal jammers’

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