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Extinction Rebellion Heathrow protest scrapped

The group had said it would ground flights in June and July unless plans to build a third runway were axed.

The climate group had suggested drones could be used during the demonstrations (John Stillwell/PA)
The climate group had suggested drones could be used during the demonstrations (John Stillwell/PA)

Extinction Rebellion (XR) has announced its protest plan to ground flights at Heathrow Airport has been put on hold.

The environmental action group had said it would demonstrate at the airport in June and July unless Government plans to build a third runway were axed.

A statement on Sunday announced the disruption was cancelled but included an “action plan” which could be followed if the plan is revived.

The subsequent accusation that Extinction Rebellion was willing to endanger life is a depressing and predictable smear Extinction Rebellion

“Extinction Rebellion will not be carrying out any actions at Heathrow Airport in June or July this year, aimed at causing disruption to holidaymakers and those planning to use the airport in this period,” it said.

“The Heathrow Airport authorities will therefore not have to pause any summer flights.

“Fear and apprehension have swirled around this action since an internal proposal was leaked to media.

“The subsequent accusation that Extinction Rebellion was willing to endanger life is a depressing and predictable smear.”

A leaked internal memo had shown drones would potentially be used to stage the protest.

The group’s plans, announced in May, were roundly criticised by authorities and Baroness Vere, the aviation minister, warned “using drones to deliberately put people’s safety at risk carries a maximum life sentence”.

The Metropolitan Police also drew up a plan to handle the protests.

XR said if drones are used for future demonstrations then “operators will fly them at a maximum height of six feet (1.82 meters) within the restricted 5km zone surrounding Heathrow”.

They would also not be flown within flight paths, but could still be used in areas that could force the airport “to safely close airspace”, the group said.

“The airport authorities and the general public be given two months’ advance notice of the start date and time of any planned action,” it said.

“Above all, this notice period provides an appropriate period for the authorities to safely plan the closure of the airport for the duration of the action.

“We hope it also provides members of the general public with sufficient time to seek alternative travel arrangements if necessary.”

PA

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