Access to Heathrow Airport has been disrupted due to an impromptu climate change demonstration this morning, with five activists arrested for their part in the protest.
The police were called at around 08:25AM to reports that a tunnel near the airport had been blocked to traffic by protesters. Three cars were obstructing the tunnel, with three protestors locked to one of them.
A spokesman for the Met Police said the male drivers of two of the vehicles had been arrested for obstructing a highway, and the others – two men and a woman – were arrested once removed from the third car.
One man has been taken to hospital as a precaution, the police said, while the remaining man and woman have been taken into custody, also at a west London police station.
A contra-flow is in place in the outbound tunnel to facilitate the movement of traffic around the blocked tunnel (which is now empty), but motorists are advised possible delays to their journey as this incident is dealt with.
“Earlier this morning protestors staged a demonstration in the in-bound tunnel to Terminals 2 and 3 – the protestors have now been removed by the Police and the tunnel has re-opened," a Heathrow spokesperson said.
“Whilst Heathrow supports the right to peaceful protest within the law, the safety and security of our passengers, aircraft and colleagues together with the smooth running of the operation is paramount.
"Contraflow traffic measures were quickly instituted to keep traffic flowing and there were no significant impacts on flights from the airport today. We apologise to passengers whose journeys may have taken a bit longer because of this unlawful protest.”
Heathrow tweeted the following advice to motorists trying to reach the airport:
Climate change protest group Rising Up is behind the demo, and activists have chained themselves to a car in the tunnel.
Rising Up posted the following video on Facebook:
At least two protesters chained to car in Heathrow airport approach tunnel as armed police stand by. Massive delays in area. pic.twitter.com/vbobnh944e
— tvnewswatch (@tvnewswatch) February 21, 2017
A spokesperson for Back Heathrow, a campaign group in favour of expanding the west London airport, said: “The actions of these protestors are selfish, short-sighted and counter-productive. Most local communities living near Heathrow support expansion and passengers simply want to be able to use the airport in peace.
“This pointless protest will merely aggravate thousands of ordinary people, many of whom simply want to get to work or catch a flight.”