Heathrow Airport targeted by Insulate Britain climate protesters

Activists blocked key route for passengers heading to London's main airport

Heathrow Airport was targeted by climate activists from Insulate Britain for the second time this week.

Members of the group blocked Junction 3 of the M4 motorway and prevented passengers from reaching the airport in west London.

About 13 eco protesters positioned in front of several lanes of traffic, forcing drivers to grind to a halt. Wearing hi-vis vests, they held banners bearing the group’s name as they sat cross-legged in the rain.

One frustrated commuter ripped the giant posters from their hands and walked off with them. A female protester carrying a backpack was seen gesturing to drivers to stop beeping.

A further two members of the group used bicycle locks around their necks to attach themselves to each other. At least one person glued their hands to the road surface in an attempt to prevent officers from moving them on.

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport told The National there had not been any reports of travel disruption for passengers making their way to and from Britain's busiest airport but the situation was being monitored.

Among those to protest near Heathrow was Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, a retired family therapist from Bristol.

Officers on motorbikes were seen arriving at the scene of the protest near Heathrow during rush hour on Friday morning before arresting activists.

"Officers arrested 13 people for obstruction and conspiracy to commit public nuisance." the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. The force said officers were on the scene by 8.40am and had the road cleared within 20 minutes.

Disruption to traffic in the area as a result of the protest is expected to last throughout the morning.

Insulate Britain also staged a demonstration at Junction 1 of the M1 at Brent Cross, north London, where they brought traffic to a standstill.

This morning, the group released a statement urging Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take their demands seriously. The group, an off-shoot of Extinction Rebellion, is demanding that every UK home be insulated to save on energy to help meet the UK climate change targets under the Paris Agreement.

“It’s incomprehensible that the government is continuing to delay action on home insulation when we urgently need to cut our carbon emissions, eliminate fuel poverty and help hard-working families with their rising energy bills," the group said.

“Added to which, industry is crying out for the government to show some leadership and get behind a national retrofitting strategy. Come on Boris: get on with the job.”

Last week the government obtained an injunction that means anyone blocking the M25 motorway that encircles Greater London could be found to be in contempt of court, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.

This week the eco group admitted that its actions this week “are in breach” of the injunction.

It is the organisation’s 10th day of protests in the past three weeks.

Sir Stephen House, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee on Thursday that he is concerned police forces are under so much pressure to quickly clear the protests that “officers are putting their lives at risk”.

“The most recent one I saw had officers running between articulated lorries that were moving on the main carriageway of the M25.

“We cannot be doing that. We cannot put people’s lives at risk, my officers’ lives at risk, and indeed the demonstrators’ lives at risk," he said. “We have to look out for that first.

“But we have been very quick in moving these people and arresting them.

“They started off on the slip roads, which is bad enough, but we’ve now moved on to the main carriageways of the M25, which is absolute lunacy,” Mr House said.

Insulate Britain Heathrow protest - in pictures

Updated: October 1st 2021, 11:17 AM
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