Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion has stalled plans to launch a series of protests to halt flights at Heathrow airport this summer, but hasn’t ruled out future action.
The group had been planning to fly drones near the airport on 18 June and for ten days starting from 1 July in order to cause authorities to ground flights, but announced yesterday that it would not go ahead with the action.
However, Extinction Rebellion said “fear and apprehension have swirled” around the plan since it was leaked to media last month, but called the subsequent belief that it was willing to endanger passengers “a depressing and predictable smear”.
A press release on the group’s website says: “What endangers life on this planet is the continued and unfettered release of greenhouse gas emissions that will lead to runaway temperature rise and the breakdown of life as we know it in the UK and across the world.”
Despite calling off the protests, Extinction Rebellion said it will not exclude Heathrow from its future planning, saying the government’s decision to approve the airport’s third runway “could not be more incompatible with the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally”.
Following an ‘internal and external consultation’, the group has set out guidelines for any future action at the airport. It includes flying drones within the 5km restriction zone but not about six feet to ensure the devices do not enter flight paths. It said it will also give a two-month warning of any possible drone activity to give airport authorities “the opportunity to make an advance decision to safely close air space for the duration of this action”.
The news comes as Heathrow prepares to launch a 12-and-a-half-week statutory consultation on 18 June, which includes CGI images of what the airport could look like following expansion. The hub is planning to use augmented reality and a sound booth featuring virtual reality to demonstrate the effect of noise insulation on properties overflown by aircraft.
Heathrow has faced opposition to its plans, but a High Court judge threw out a request from several groups for a review of the government’s decision to approve the third runway.
The airport recently announced plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) around its premises and eventually begin charging a vehicle access fee for cars entering its car parks as part of its goal to tackle emissions.