Climate change activists trying to fly drones to disrupt Heathrow Airport claim they have been blocked by "signal jamming" after nine people were arrested over the planned protest.
Heathrow Pause – a splinter of the Extinction Rebellion movement – has said it intends to fly the machines in the airport’s 3.1-mile (5km) exclusion zone, potentially disrupting hundreds of flights.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed two men were arrested in the early hours of Friday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance within the perimeter of Heathrow.
It comes after seven people – including Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder Roger Hallam – were detained on Thursday ahead of the planned protest.
A live stream video shared on Heathrow Pause’s Twitter account showed two people struggling to get a drone off the ground.
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.
The two men, filming themselves near a road, said they were experiencing a technical glitch.
In a post on Twitter, the protest group said: Heathrow using signal jamming to frustrate early flights.
The Met 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.
A large police presence was seen in the airport area on Friday morning and protesters have been warned they could be handed life sentences if they are found to be endangering the lives of passengers.
The planned protest action is meant to ground flights and put pressure on the government to take tougher steps to reduce carbon emissions.
In a statement on Friday, Heathrow Airport confirmed its runways were open as normal and said it was committed to addressing climate change.
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 airport said.
On Thursday, Heathrow Pause said prospective drone pilots Roger Hallam and Mike Lynch-White had been preemptively arrested in Bethnal Green, east London.
The Met said nine people in total – three women and six men aged between their 20s and 60s – have been arrested over the planned protest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.
Four of the men and the three women were detained in Bethnal Green, Haringey and Wandsworth in London on Thursday, the force said.
The planned demonstration at Heathrow is the latest in a string of climate change protests this year, including widespread action in London in April, which saw Extinction Rebellion bring sites including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge to a standstill.
Heathrow said it was determined to remain operational during potential disruption, which comes shortly after British Airways pilots staged a 48-hour strike in a row over pay, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.
Extinction Rebellion activists are also staging protests at London Fashion Week.
Five activists from the group, wearing white dresses and bleeding hearts, glued themselves to the main entrance of the show.
Other members of the group poured buckets of fake blood around the entrance.
They want the fashion industry to tell the truth about its contribution to the climate crisis.