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Saturday, Oct 24, 2020

Extinction Rebellion block roads outside Heathrow Airport

Extinction Rebellion protesters staged a mass ‘lie-in’ in front of a bulldozer outside Heathrow today in protest against a third airport runway, blocking two lanes of traffic.
Dozens of activists lay down before the vehicle after cycling there en masse, at times bringing traffic to a standstill.

Part of Bath Road, above the busy Tunnel Road roundabout feeding into the airport, was closed for the stunt, with traffic disrupted.

Police allowed it to continue until mid-afternoon but warned protesters they faced arrest if they stayed longer or breached the designated zone.

Extinction Rebellion claim the building of a third runway is incompatible with both their own demand for net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and the UK’s statutory target to reach the milestone by 2050.

The activists said the bright pink bulldozer referred to Boris Johnson’s promise in 2015 that he would lie in front of if the expansion went ahead.

They invited him and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to the lie-in. Both politicians have a history of opposing Heathrow’s expansion and represent constituencies close to the airport.

In his celebratory speech after being elected MP for Uxbridge, Mr Johnson said: ‘John McDonnell, I will join you. I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway.’

Mr Johnson was on a trip abroad as Foreign Secretary when MPs voted in favour of expansion in June last year.

Critics questioned whether he could have rearranged the visit to Kabul for talks with the Afghan government in order to fulfil his pledge.

Anti-expansion campaigners also criticised Labour for giving MPs a free vote on the scheme despite its official position of opposing expansion.

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said some 300 people took part and that the protest wound down in time with police orders.

TfL Traffic had told drivers to expect delays as the convoy of cyclists mad their way from Hyde Park Corner to Heathrow.

Met Police Commander Dave Musker said before the stunt: ‘The police must balance the rights of Londoners and those visiting the capital to go about their daily lives without serious disruption with the right to peaceful protest.

‘After careful consideration I have made an operational decision to request the authority from my Assistant Commissioner to implement conditions on this demonstration based on the information available to me.’

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