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Environmentalists climb on Heathrow jet in airport protest: officials

Climate campaigners demonstrate on the roof of an aircraft at London's Heathrow airport in west London, on February 25, 2008. The four protestors, two women and two male activists, waited until all the passengers had disembarked from the one-hour flight from Manchester before walking through double doors at the terminal, crossing an area of tarmac and climbing stairs on to the fuselage. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Feb 25, 2008
Four activists from environmental campaigners Greenpeace breached security at London Heathrow to stage a protest on top of a jet against the airport's planned expansion, the group said Monday.

The activists climbed on top of a British Airways Boeing 777 plane which had just landed from Manchester at around 0945 GMT and unfurled a huge banner across the tailfin reading: "Climate Emergency -- No Third Runway".

Their action came two days before the end of a government consultation on plans to expand Heathrow, notably by building a third runway, which have proved highly controversial with green campaigners and some local people.

Supporters of the scheme including airlines and business argue that it is vital to sustain London's status as a world financial centre.

One of those involved in the protest, Anna Jones, 27, said: "I am standing on this plane because our planet and the people who live on it are in danger.

"Climate change can be beaten but not by doubling the size of the world's biggest airport."

The demonstrators were arrested by police after spending about an hour and a half on top of the jet. Services at Heathrow were largely unaffected.

BAA, which operates most of Britain's airports, said it would carry out a "full investigation" into the incident.

A spokesman said: "There is an important debate to be had regarding airport expansion and BAA respects people's democratic right to protest lawfully.

"However, direct action on the airfield is unlawful and irresponsible."

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways and a supporter of the expansion plan, said that aviation only produced about two percent of carbon emissions.

And he added that a third runway would not lead overall to an increase because by then, aviation emissions would be capped by the European Union's carbon trading scheme.

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