Friday 13 September 2019 8:14 am

Heathrow drone protest: Airport 'remains open' as police make two arrests

Heathrow has said its runways remain open today despite efforts by climate change protesters to disrupt flights after two men were arrested.

The Metropolitan Police arrested the two men at 5.50am in the vicinity of the airport on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance offence.

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London’s biggest airport said it would defy protesters’ aims to force the travel hub into a shutdown and would continue to fly, as activists complained “signal-jamming” tech was stopping their drones from flying.

“Heathrow’s runways and taxiways remain open and fully operational despite attempts to disrupt the airport through the illegal use of drones in protest nearby,” a Heathrow spokesperson said.

“We will continue to work with the authorities to carry out dynamic risk assessment programmes and keep our passengers flying safely on their journeys today.

“We agree with the need for climate change action but illegal protest activity designed with the intention of disrupting thousands of people, is not the answer.

“The answer to climate change is in constructive engagement and working together to address the issue, something that Heathrow remains strongly committed to do.”

Hundreds of Heathrow flights face disruption today if protesters successfully fly drones inside the airport’s 5km exclusion zone today.

But Heathrow Pause, an offshoot of the Extinction Rebellion movement, said signal jamming technology has prevented at least some drones from flying.

Police have issued a dispersal order for the area surrounding Heathrow Airport that will last until Sunday morning.

Today’s arrests follow five made yesterday before today’s much-publicised protest.

“The order has been implemented to prevent criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport,” the Met said.

Heathrow Pause’s Twitter account shows activists struggling to get a drone airborne. They tweeted: “Heathrow using signal jamming to frustrate early flights.”

While the drone emitted red and green intermittent lights as men held it above their heads, it could not lift off into the skies.

Among those arrested “preemptively” yesterday were Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam and Mike Luynch-White, who were both arrested at a cafe in Bethnall Green.

Two women and a man were arrested in Hornsey Lane in Highgate.

On Hallam and Lynch-White’s arrests, Heathrow Pause said: “The pair were just concluding an interview with German news magazine der Spiegel at Billy’s Cafe in Bethnal Green when four police cars pulled up. Officers handcuffed the Pause activists, placed them in separate cars and drove them away.”

The Met confirmed the arrests and said they were made “on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance in relation to operations at Heathrow Airport”.

Read more: ‘Positive’ talks with Heathrow fail to stop activists’ drone protest plans

Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “Our policing plan is aimed at preventing criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport, and the thousands of passengers that will be using it. We have warned previously that arrests would be made if this activity continued.

“In these circumstances, we believe these arrests to be a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure.”