Climate activists′ drone fails to disrupt Heathrow flights | News | DW | 13.09.2019
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Climate activists' drone fails to disrupt Heathrow flights

Climate change activists failed to disrupt flights out of Heathrow when technical difficulties foiled their plan to fly drones close to the airport and prevent planes from using the runways.

In an early-morning livestream on Friday the climate activist group Heathrow Pause reported that a jamming signal was keeping their drones on the ground.

"We've got a little technical glitch. The drone isn't flying," an unidentified person said in the video.

Heathrow remained "open and fully operational" on Friday morning, according to a tweet from the airport.

London’s Metropolitan Police arrested two men inside Heathrow early Friday morning "on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance in relation to operations" at the airport. The police had enacted a 48-hour dispersal order to prevent criminal activity in the area.

Despite a series of preemptive raids by police, the activists had said they would still try to shut down London's main airport,

The climate group said its aim was to pressure the UK government into reducing the country's CO2 emissions.

Read more: Extinction Rebellion: Activists risking prison to save the planet

Police arrested three men and two women on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance. Two of the group members were being interviewed by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel shortly before the arrest at a cafe in north London.

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Symbolic action

Under Heathrow's own rules, the airport must close if drones are spotted within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) exclusion zone.

Read more: Psychology behind climate inaction: How to beat the 'doom barrier'

Members of Heathrow Pause, an offshoot of the Extinction Rebellion activist movement, said they did not plan to operate drones while aircraft were in the air, but instead were aiming for a symbolic action. 

Earlier in the week, police said they were confident there would be no repeat of the chaos seen last December at Gatwick Airport, which also serves the UK capital. However, they also warned that any attempted disruption of the airport was a serious crime.

Extinction Rebellion shut down parts of London for more than a week in April in a series of actions that included the blockage of several major roads and businesses. At the time, the group said it planned to carry out an action to shut down Heathrow Airport.

kp,rc/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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