An environmentalist group has put London Heathrow Airport on notice: the drones are coming.
Heathrow Pause opposes the construction of a third runway at LHR, arguing it runs counter to the United Kingdom’s plan to reduce net greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050. To raise awareness over this issue and attempt to influence public policy, Heathrow Pause announced it would disrupt flights on September 13, 2019 with drone flights near the airport. At the same time, it promised that no aircraft or passengers would be placed in danger.
Heathrow Pause sees its act as sacrificial.
This is a symbolic action, using a legal loophole and participants’ self-sacrifice to draw attention to the most serious and urgent crisis humanity has ever faced. The government’s inaction on climate change, and the looming catastrophe of airport expansion, gives us no choice and compels us to act.
All participants flying drones know they risk arrest and imprisonment, and are prepared to be arrested peacefully
Meanwhile, a Heathrow spokesperson told Reuters:
We agree with the need to act on climate change. This is a global issue that requires constructive engagement and action. Committing criminal offences and disrupting passengers is counterproductive.
Already, Heathrow is deploying drone-detection technology that its hopes will detect and interdict drones before they cause flight disruptions.
We are working closely with the Met Police and will use our own drone detection capability to mitigate the operational impact of any illegal use of drones near the airport.
Heathrow Pause will meet with police tomorrow to discuss their plans for next month. For its part, Met Police said, “Anyone caught illegally using a drone within the proximity of an airport can expect to be dealt with in line with the law.”
With strike action also planned by British Airways’ pilots, London Heathrow may be an airport best avoided in September. While I have been very critical of such environmental action in the past and continue to be, I appreciate that Heathrow Pause 1.) announced its intentions in advance and 2.) is willing to go to jail for breaking the law. At the very least, it is raising awareness of its cause through this public warning campaign.