Anarchists to flood in as new Heathrow T5 opens

  • Posted on: 22 February 2008
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Standard</a> - By Nigel Rosser and Robert Mendick

Activists plan to disrupt the official opening of Heathrow's £4 billion fifth terminal next month by flooding it with hundreds of protesters.

Demonstrators, wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned with a "Stop Airport expansion" logo, will descend on the terminal at 11am on 27 March in a "flash mob".

The massive environmental protest will initially be passive to evade strict laws banning direct action inside T5.</td><td><img title="Down with expansion! Contract!" src="files/pictures/heathrowt5protest.jpg"></td></tr></table><!--break-->

But the presence of hundreds of protesters will threaten the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers and create a security nightmare.

One anarchist source said: "Imagine hundreds of very obvious protesters milling around, drinking coffee and at any time capable of doing something radical or staging a rather less passive protest; it is a security nightmare."

The demonstration will also cause huge concern for British Airways, the sole airline operating out of T5.

The protest is set to be the culmination of a series of planned demonstrations aimed at bringing the airport to a standstill. Protesters plan to infiltrate and disrupt the final security tests on T5. A number of activists posing as ordinary members of the public have already signed up for a series of trials run by airport owners BAA to test the smooth running of the terminal.

The trials are openly advertised on BAA's website and will take place on 8, 11 and 13 March.

The disruption will be launched from a new protest camp on the airport perimeter which will be a security nightmare for police and airport staff.

Environmentalists hope to have the eco-camp set up when the terminal opens so they can use it as a launch pad for protests. In a move that will have severe security implications for police guarding the airport, anarchists are planning to set up camp in the nearby villages of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington. Last year, BAA sought a High Court injunction against a weeklong climate camp held by protesters at Heathrow that could have banned five million members of groups such as the National Trust and the RSPB from the area around Heathrow.

The Met spent £70 million policing the protest, which saw the headquarters of airport operators BAA blocked and the entrances to the Department for Transport barred, alongside other highprofilestunts. Anarchists believe the camp will provide a focus for travelling eco-protesters. They want to enlist help from villagers whose homes are likely to be affected by Heathrow expansion.

According to correspondence obtained by the Evening Standard, protesters propose that "the threatened villages could declare independence from the British government and take control of their own local affairs and grow their own food and operate their own Peoples' Bank and use their own currency". Anarchist sources said: "The public relations spin is that we want to help locals make the place greener as a counter measure to Heathrow's contribution to global warming. But really, the camp will be a haven for launching protests."

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, is expected to announce a decision over plans for a third runway in the summer. If approved, flights will increase from 480,000 to more than 700,000 a year.

BAA said it would not comment on specific threats but defended the new terminal. A spokesman said: "We have gone to enormous lengths to make sure T5 is one of the most environmentally friendly terminals in the world and we hope people will acknowledge that."