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London’s Heathrow airport said protesters breached the perimeter fence and are attempting to stage a rally at the end of one of its two runways. Reports said the group is opposed to expansion plans for the hub.
Heathrow’s northern runway is operating at a reduced length, meaning it can handle short-haul jets, after being closed earlier, a spokesman said. The southern landing strip is handling the usual schedule and the disruption will lead to delays rather than cancellations, the airport said.
The Press Association said that direct action group Plane Stupid, which opposes airport expansion, is behind the protest, citing an unidentified supporter. Heathrow was named in a government-backed study as the best option for a new runway earlier this month, a selection that sparked criticism from political opponents and environmental groups.
The airport said it’s working closely with police dealing with the incident and that passengers should check their flight’s status before making their way to the terminal.
“Our priority remains to ensure the safety of the airport community, including passengers, employees and protesters,” Heathrow said in a statement. There will be a full investigation of what happened, a spokesman said.
The 18 billion-pound ($28 billion) Heathrow project would lift passenger numbers above 135 million by 2050, creating 70,000 jobs and adding 40 destinations, the Airport Commission said on July 1. A third runway could be built at Heathrow by 2026, they said in their report.
The Commission warned that without new measures to curb emissions Heathrow’s growth would raise pollution levels in the surrounding area. In a “pessimistic” scenario, nearby roads would become the most polluted in the capital, it said.
This article was written by Kari Lundgren from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.