Climate protesters claim police used 'signal jammers' to stop them shutting down Heathrow with drones

Climate change activists who sought to use drones to disrupt flights in and out of Heathrow say their attempts were thwarted by police using signal jammers.

Environmental protest group, Heathrow Pause, a splinter group of the Extinction Rebellion movement, had intended to fly the devices in the 5km zone around the transport hub.

But a video posted on the group’s Twitter account on Friday morning showed them struggling to get the drones off the ground.

A caption alongside the footage read: “Heathrow using signal jamming to frustrate early flights”.

Footage posted on Twitter showed activists struggling to launch drones in the early hours of Friday.

Just hours later, police announced two activists from the group had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance within the perimeter of Heathrow Airport.

The arrests followed seven pre-emptive arrests on Thursday, when officers caught suspected would-be pilots, including Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam, ahead of the planned action.

The three women and six men are aged between their 20s and their 60s, with four of the men and the three women detained in Bethnal Green, Haringey and Wandsworth and taken into custody on Thursday, police said.

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Scotland Yard said a dispersal order had been put in place at Heathrow until 4.30am on Sunday “to prevent criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport”, and a large police presence was seen in the airport area on Friday morning.

In the early hours of Friday, a live stream was shared on a Heathrow Pause Twitter account, showing two people struggling to get a drone off the ground.

The two men, filming themselves near a road, said they were experiencing “a technical glitch”.

There is currently a three-mile exclusion zone around the airport. (PA)
Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam, was pre-emptively arrested by police on Thursday. (Getty)

The device could be seen flashing red and green lights as the men held it above their head, but did not make it into the air.

Meanwhile, planes landed at Heathrow as normal, with the first flights touching down just before 5am.

Earlier this week, a senior Metropolitan officer advised Heathrow passengers to travel as normal and said they were “confident” disruption would be kept to a minimum.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We will be arresting anybody who commits unlawful offences.

“We are really clear that it is unlawful, it is a criminal offence, and anybody who turns up expecting to fly drones in that exclusion zone will be arrested.”

Police have enforced strict rules on flying drones after serious disruption at Heathrow previously. (PA)

Heathrow Airport confirmed its runways were open and said they were committed to addressing climate change.

It said in a statement: “We will continue to work with the authorities to carry out dynamic risk assessment programmes and keep our passengers flying safely on their journeys today.

“We agree with the need for climate change action but illegal protest activity, designed with the intention of disrupting thousands of people, is not the answer.

“The answer to climate change is in constructive engagement and working together to address the issue, something that Heathrow remains strongly committed to do.”

Friday morning’s action was the latest in a string of climate change protests this year, including the widespread action in London in April, which saw Extinction Rebellion bring sites including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge to a standstill.