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Environmental activists to fly drones around Heathrow in latest protest

By Georgina Stubbs, PA

Environmental campaigners have said they plan to fly drones around Heathrow airport in a bid to ground flights at the transport hub.

Heathrow Pause activists - a splinter of the Extinction Rebellion movement but separate from them - have said they will operate small toy drones from 3am on Friday September 13.

A spokesman for the group said they expect "somewhere between 50 to a couple of hundred people" to be involved in the action, with each person using a drone.

With an aim to see the disruption take place over a number of days and potentially longer, in a statement the group said they "can't stand aside" and "have to act".

"From the 13th September, we will exploit a loophole in Heathrow airport's health and safety protocols and fly toy drones within its restricted zone," they said.

"It is our understanding that the airport's authorities will respond by grounding all flights. Drones will not be flown in flight paths and there will be no risk of harm to anyone.

"We know that we will be arrested. We know that we face significant prison sentences for our actions. We have lives, we have families, we do not wish to go to prison.

"But we are steadfast in our resolve. We do this in defence of life. We do it because our consciences leave us no other choice but to act."

The group said the small lightweight drones will be flown no higher than at head height, will not enter flight paths, and that they plan to fly them within the 5km zone surrounding the airport.

With the airport given an hour's notice before each flight, drones will be flown at "regular intervals", ensuring that to "comply with Heathrow's own rules, no aircraft flights will take place".

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said they are aware of the planned protest.

"Any drone flown into the path of an aircraft has the potential to cause great harm and endanger those on board," she added.

"Anyone caught illegally using a drone within the proximity of an airport can expect to be dealt with in line with the law."

The activists said they will meet with police and airport authorities to discuss their plans on Friday.