Extinction Rebellion climate protesters to target Heathrow Airport

Scotland Yard has warned environmental protesters will face a "robust response" if they target Heathrow Airport, ruining families' Easter holiday breaks.

The force said it has "strong plans" in place involving a significant number of officers to deal with the planned Extinction Rebellion (XR) action on Good Friday.

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Extinction Rebellion protests
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Extinction Rebellion protests
Police officers place a protester who glued herself to the roof of a DLR train carriage into a safety harness at Canary Wharf station in London,UK on April 17, 2019. This is part of on going climate change protests in London. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
Police officers begin to remove Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge, London.
Police begin to remove climate activists who glued themselves on top of a Dockland Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station in east London, as part of the ongoing climate change protests in the capital.
Police officers begin to remove protesters who glued themselves to the roof of a DLR train carriage at Canary Wharf DLR station in London,UK on April 17, 2019. This is part of on going climate change protests in London. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
A climate change protester who glued herself to the roof of a DLR train at Canary Wharf DLR station in London,UK on April 17, 2019 is led away by the police. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
One of two climate activists are led away by police after they took over a Dockland Light Railway at Canary Wharf station in east London as part of the ongoing climate change protests in the capital.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge, London. Some 290 people have been arrested in connection with demonstrations by the Extinction Rebellion group.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge, London. Some 290 people have been arrested in connection with demonstrations by the Extinction Rebellion group.
A climate activist after he glued himself to a Dockland Light Railway at Canary Wharf station in east London as part of the ongoing climate change protests in the capital.
Climate activists ontop of a Dockland Light Railway at Canary Wharf station in east London as part of the ongoing climate change protests in the capital.
Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge in Edinburgh.
Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge in Edinburgh.
Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge in Edinburgh.
Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge in Edinburgh.
Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge in Edinburgh.
A demonstrator is led away by police during the second day of an Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
A demonstrator is arrested during the second day of an Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
A demonstrator is arrested during the second day of an Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Demonstrators during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square, London, as more than 100 people have been arrested as police deal with ongoing climate change protests.
Demonstrators chain and glue themselves to a lorry on Waterloo Bridge in London during a Extinction Rebellion protest, as more than 100 people have been arrested as police deal with ongoing climate change protests.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators camp near Marble Arch, London, as more than 100 people have been arrested as police deal with ongoing climate change protests.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators camp near Marble Arch, London, as more than 100 people have been arrested as police deal with ongoing climate change protests.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators camp near Marble Arch, London, as more than 100 people have been arrested as police deal with ongoing climate change protests.
A pink boat saying Tell the Truth at the Oxford Circus during the protest. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
An environmental activists is seen waving flags during the demonstration. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Environmental activists are seen carrying a coffin during the demonstration. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Environmental activists are seen shouting slogans while holding a banner and placards during the demonstration. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
An environmental activist seen holding a placard that says go green during the demonstration at the Parliament Square. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Environmental activists are seen wearing fancy dress costumes during the demonstration. Activist protest at the Parliament Square demanding for urgent Government action on climate change, the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Activists are seen holding a banner during the protest. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse. From Monday 15 April, Extinction Rebellion is taking action on the streets of cities all over the world. In The Hague, the 'International Rebellion XR Netherlands' declared its own full-scale rebellion to demand decisive action from governments on climate change and ecological collapse. Also the Blood of our Children', a symbolic act where buckets of fake blood were poured on the street right next to the government offices to show the politicians that every second is more blood on their hands. (Photo by Ana Fernandez / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
An activist is seen applauding during the protest. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse. From Monday 15 April, Extinction Rebellion is taking action on the streets of cities all over the world. In The Hague, the 'International Rebellion XR Netherlands' declared its own full-scale rebellion to demand decisive action from governments on climate change and ecological collapse. Also the Blood of our Children', a symbolic act where buckets of fake blood were poured on the street right next to the government offices to show the politicians that every second is more blood on their hands. (Photo by Ana Fernandez / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A protester seen holding a placard during the Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London. Extinction Rebellion protesters bring London to a standstill. The protesters lined up across the exits to Parliament Square in Westminster, with some sitting in the road. The group plan to be blocking five of the city�s busiest and most iconic locations in a non-violent, peaceful act of rebellion - for up to two weeks (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Protesters seen holding two large banner with a man performing a dead body in the middle of the road during the Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London. Extinction Rebellion protesters bring London to a standstill. The protesters lined up across the exits to Parliament Square in Westminster, with some sitting in the road. The group plan to be blocking five of the city�s busiest and most iconic locations in a non-violent, peaceful act of rebellion - for up to two weeks (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest at Marble Arch in London.
Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion take their protest to the Shell Petroleum HQ in London,UK on April 15, 2019. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion take their protest to the Shell Petroleum HQ in London,UK on April 15, 2019. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
A women sits amongst broken glass after smashing a glass door with a screw driver at the Shell building. Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion take their protest to the Shell Petroleum HQ in London,UK on April 15, 2019. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
A police officer speaks with a protester who has glued her hand to the door of the Shell building. Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion take their protest to the Shell Petroleum HQ in London,UK on April 15, 2019. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion take their protest to the Shell Petroleum HQ in London,UK on April 15, 2019. (Photo by Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)
People take photographs following an Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
A security guard stands by a graffiti covered Shell building on the Southbank in London, during a Extinction Rebellion protest.
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square in London.
Office workers watch demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest at the Shell building on the Southbank in London.
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus in London.
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus in London.
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Demonstrators lead a boat through Oxford Circus in London during a Extinction Rebellion protest.
Police speaking to demonstrators during a Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge, London, after police issued a Section 14 Public Order Act 1986 warning.
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The airport said it is "working with the authorities" to address the threat of mass disruption, while Home Secretary Sajid Javid has urged police to use the "full force of the law".

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the protests were "increasing in intensity" and warned demonstrators against targeting Heathrow Airport.

He told the Press Association: "Protesters can expect a robust police response. We are determined to keep the airport operating."

A Met statement added: "The airport is part of our national infrastructure and we will not allow the illegal activities of protesters to cause further disruption and misery to thousands of travellers, many of them families, over Easter.

"We would urge any protester planning to attend Heathrow to strongly reconsider."

Scotland Yard has arrested at least 460 protesters amid ongoing demonstrations across four locations in central London, comprising Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.

A climate activist knits during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus
A climate activist knits during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

A spokesman for the XR group said activists will be staging protest action at Heathrow on Friday, with around 500,000 people expected to fly out for Easter breaks over the bank holiday weekend.

Speaking after a briefing with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on Thursday, the Home Secretary said she had told him that more than 1,000 officers were being deployed to the streets of the capital each day of the protests.

"Let me be clear – I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law," Mr Javid said.

"They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.

"I expect the police to take a firm stance and use the full force of the law."

Extinction Rebellion protests
Climate activists surround a pink boat that has been parked during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

Scotland Yard said officers have been asked to work 12-hour shifts, while rest days and leave has been cancelled.

The force said that although the Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) has been ring-fenced, the protests are diverting officers away from their local duties.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written a letter to the Home Secretary about the increasing cost of policing a growing number of protests in London, and he is working with the Met to consider making a special grant claim over the current demonstrations.

Extinction Rebellion protests
A climate activist is led away by police officers from an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

The fourth day of protests – which have seen activists glue themselves to public transport and block bridges and major roads across the capital – began with a challenge to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to meet with activists at Parliament Square to find a solution to the issue.

And organisers said they expected even more people to join the protests, with a statement – which was later deleted – adding: "Easter weekend is tomorrow and thousands more rebels will join.

"Police struggle to arrest 350 and there are 10 times that number prepared to be arrested.

"The hollowed-out British state is overwhelmed."

Cathy Eastburn, 51, Mark Ovland, 35, and Luke Watson, 29, were remanded in custody after they were charged over their alleged involvement in obstructing trains at Canary Wharf station on Wednesday morning.

All three indicated a not guilty plea when they appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court.

Speaking from Waterloo Bridge, Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of the XR group, said demonstrators would continue to act despite the first people being charged over the disruption.

"It (the charges) might put some people off and we escalated our strategy by focusing on the rail infrastructure," she told the Press Association.

"It's certainly an option that tactics will be escalated if our demands are not met," she said.

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