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Heathrow drone protest: Five arrested over planned disruption

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image copyrightWilliam Watson
image captionRoger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was arrested in Bethnal Green on Thursday

Five environmental activists have been arrested over plans to fly drones near Heathrow Airport on Friday.

Climate change activist group Heathrow Pause said it aims to use devices within the no-fly zone as part of efforts to halt the airport's planned expansion.

Police made the arrests in Bethnal Green and Highgate on Thursday.

The group said it had up to 70 more pilots available to fly drones and would "carry on exactly as planned".

The Met said three men and two women, aged between their 20s and 50s, were held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance in relation to operations at Heathrow Airport.

Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner, said: "We believe these arrests to be a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure.

"We remain fully prepared for the planned protest tomorrow, and will work quickly to identify criminal activity and arrest anyone committing offences."

A spokesman for Heathrow Pause said it would "definitely be going ahead" with the planned protest.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionActivists plan to fly drones within the exclusion zone at Heathrow Airport on Friday

In a tweet the group said it would "not be silenced", adding: "We are parents protecting our children."

A separate post said: "The action will carry on exactly as planned, peacefully and non-violently, regardless of today's events.

"We have contingency measures in place."

Police officers said on Wednesday they were "confident" they would be able to prevent any disruption caused by protesters who plan to fly drones near Heathrow Airport on Friday.

Scotland Yard previously warned activists could face possible life sentences if they fly drones around the airport in a bid to ground flights.

image copyrightWilliam Watson
image captionTwo men were arrested in Pritchard's Road, Bethnal Green, while two women and a man were held on Hornsey Lane

A spokeswoman for Heathrow previously said airport chiefs "agree with the need to act on climate change" but "committing criminal offences and disrupting passengers is counter-productive".

However, Dr Gail Bradbrook, another co-founder or Extinction Rebellion, said: "As we continue to breech ecological tipping points I believe we will look back on these times and wonder why more people weren't willing to take actions to peacefully close down climate wrecking infrastructure. "

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