Police feared campaigners would close down airport
POLICE chiefs feared that a hardcore group of climate camp activists planned to launch a bid to shut down Edinburgh Airport during the protests.
Officers had gathered intelligence that the ringleaders of protests which previously targeted Heathrow Airport were descending on the Capital.
Intelligence also suggested that the M8 and M9 motorways, Princes Street, and the Tattoo may have come under attack in a effort to cause "maximum economic disruption".
UK police forces have identified around 100 "principal environmental extremists" operating across Britain, and Lothian and Borders Police believe up to 50 were in Edinburgh for last week's protests.
Instead, hundreds of protesters camped outside the Royal Bank of Scotland's global headquarters at Gogarburn, with sporadic attacks on other city bank branches.
Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone today said: "We knew that RBS would be a potential target and the bank has premises across the city.
"But we built up intelligence that suggested Edinburgh Airport, the M8 and M9, the city's banking system, Princes Street and the city centre, and the Tattoo, were major targets.
"We had spoken to RBS and they were happy to allow the camp to go ahead there. It allowed us to contain and control the protest away from where they could have tried to cause maximum disruption.
"The impact if Princes Street had been forced to close during the middle of the Festival would have been great. It was one of a number of genuine targets. Instead, the group was largely confined to an area on the west side of the city."
The force attracted criticism from some senior politicians for "failing to clamp down sooner" on the Gogarburn protest after activists sneaked on to grounds of the bank HQ last Wednesday night to set up camp.
ACC Livingstone said their policy of "control and containment" had reduced the threat of violence, leading to "minimal arrests" and no official complaints being lodged by protesters against police.
Extremists linked to the Plane Stupid campaign, which saw 1000 eco-warriors bidding to close down Heathrow three years ago, were known to be in the Capital.
More than 500 officers were deployed during the Day of Action on Monday, which saw 14 arrests.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
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