Extinction Rebellion vows to blockade Britain’s leading port of Dover a week after climate change protestors plan to target Heathrow
- Extinction Rebellion activists are planning to blockade the Port of Dover
- They say they will block two of the main exit roads at the port on September 21
- It comes a week after protesters say they will cripple Heathrow with drones
- Police have insisted they have ‘robust plans’ in place to keep disruption minimal
Extinction Rebellion plans to ‘block two of the primary exit roads’ at the Port of Dover on Saturday September 21.
The protest has been called eight days after protestors plan on shutting down Heathrow airport with drones.
The Heathrow Pause group – a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion – say they plan to fly devices with the 5km exclusion zone and force a closure of the airport.
The Port of Dover is the key port for sea links to Calais and Dunkirk. On an average day, 32,300 passengers pass through the port, in 6,200 cars and more than 200 coaches.
The Port of Dover (pictured) is the key port for sea links to Calais and Dunkirk. On an average day, 32,300 passengers pass through the port, in 6,200 cars and more than 200 coaches
Extinction Rebellion plans to ‘block two of the primary exit roads’ at the Port of Dover (pictured) on Saturday September 21
In a statement on their website, Extinction Rebellion called on ‘hundreds of brave people’ to ‘do their duty’ to ‘peacefully and non-violently’ block roads out of Dover.
It adds: ‘The Dover road block will highlight the extreme vulnerability of the British people to food insecurity and underline the need for the Government to take emergency action on the climate and ecological crisis.
‘There is no doubt that this will be a controversial action but rest assured, the Dover Blockade will NOT stop medicine and food supplies getting through.
This is a symbolic one-day blockage.
‘It will cause major delays, but nothing critical. Its purpose is to tell to the British public and the Government to WAKE UP; very soon we could have food supply collapse and medicine scarcity because of climate breakdown.’
About 219,000 passengers use London Heathrow Airport on an average day (file picture)
A Port of Dover spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the protest plans and as a result, Port of Dover Police are working closely with Kent Police to ensure as minimal disruption as possible.’
Meanwhile the Heathrow drone protest is still expected to go ahead on Friday.
Police have insisted they will ‘do everything in their power’ to stop activists bringing chaos to travel plans.
Scotland Yard said they are ‘deploying an effective policing plan’ to detect illegal activity, although admitted the drone-based protest brought ‘unique challenges’.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: ‘The Met will do everything in its power to prevent and stop any such criminal activity.
Extinction Rebellion activists caused chaos in April after blockading central London roads
The drones flown over Gatwick Airport just before Christmas last year caused chaos, forcing the airport to shut down for 33 hours and disrupting 140,000 passengers’ journeys
‘Heathrow Airport is part of our national infrastructure, and we will not allow the illegal activity of protestors to cause misery to thousands of air travellers.
‘The dangers of flying drones in airspace used by airliners carrying passengers are stark and the consequences potentially very severe. Anyone caught illegally using a drone can expect to be dealt with in line with the law.’
He added that anyone intending to take part and commit criminal activity should ‘think twice’ and that endangering the safety of an aircraft is a ‘very serious offence’.
Extinction Rebellion originally came up with the idea of using drones to shut down Heathrow over the summer.
But it abandoned its plans after facing a backlash from police, ministers and MPs which accused it of putting lives at risk.
Extinction Rebellion said it did ‘not support’ the Heathrow Pause’s actions, although both groups share many of the same coordinators.
Flying a drone within 3.1 miles of an airport could result in a five-year jail sentence (file image)
In a statement the group said: ‘Extinction Rebellion UK neither condones nor condemns the action and will not be supporting it in any way.’
Mr Taylor said: ‘As recent drone incidents at airports have shown, drone use in restricted airspace has the capability to cause great disruption to the public at the airport being targeted and connecting airports internationally, and the Met takes its role in preventing that from happening very seriously.
‘We will be deploying an effective policing plan around Heathrow to police and detect any illegal activity. This plan covers the unique challenges that come with a protest being held at an airport.
‘We are determined to play our part in keeping Heathrow safe and minimising disruption to the area, and I want to reassure the public that we have a very experienced command team in place for this operation.’
Heathrow’s security measures were beefed up after drones were flown over Gatwick airport just before Christmas last year, with airports ordering military-grade anti-drone defences
The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 3am on Friday.
Organisers from Heathrow Pause claim up to a ‘couple of hundred people’ will be involved, with the protest expected to last for days.
Heathrow Pause said the drones will be flown at a maximum of 6ft from the ground and not within the flight path of planes coming in to land or taking off.
It said: ‘We are committed to taking every possible step to ensure nobody is hurt or endangered, and have put stringent safety measures and protocols in place.’
Heathrow officials will also be given at least one hour’s notice before each drone flight. Drone pilots will even telephone the police after their shift is completed for the day, and ‘wait peacefully to be arrested’.
But the plans were widely condemned by passengers, Scotland Yard and Heathrow.
The organisers include Left-wing academic Roger Hallam, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, who helped plan the two weeks of chaos organised in London by the protest group in April.
Heathrow Pause’s goal is to block plans for a third runway, which it says will generate another 7.3million tons a year of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Heathrow had 80million passengers in 2018, and is set to get bigger, with a third runway approved – although it faces legal challenges from environmental groups.
A drone caused chaos when it was flown around London Gatwick Airport last December, with 140,000 passengers and 1,000 flights affected by the action.
More than 1,150 people were arrested in April in a huge Extinction Rebellion protest in London that blocked off major routes and caused major disruption to travel.
A Heathrow spokesperson said the runways will remain open, saying: ‘We have in place dynamic risk-assessment programmes which are carried out by airfield and security experts and at no time will safety be compromised.’