Traffic chaos grows as hundreds join Heathrow climate change protest
TRAFFIC jams built up around Heathrow Airport yesterday as police tried to control hundreds of people joining a nearby climate change camp.
Downing Street has said that, although people had a right to protest peacefully, any disruption to the running of the UK's busiest airport would be unacceptable. Protesters say "mass direct action" is planned for today, but they say it will be peaceful and will not involve invading the runways.
The campers are campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow and that of aviation in general because they believe carbon-emitting activities such as air travel contribute to global warming. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "Traffic control measures have been put in place on the M4 spur road southbound as part of the policing plan for the climate camp."
A spokeswoman for Heathrow said the airport itself was operating normally. The spur road runs past the village of Sipson, where the "Camp for Climate Action" has been set up, between the M4 and the airport's northern perimeter.
About 250 people gathered there last week with many more expected to arrive over the weekend. One police officer posted on the edge of the camp, set up on land owned by Imperial College, said: "All leave has been cancelled for officers this weekend. I've not seen my children for a week."
Taxi drivers were also among those affected, in particular by traffic controls on the M4 spur road.
Hossein Al-Rasoul, 47, an executive chauffeur from north-west London, said: "This is horrible. It's impacting our jobs, plane passengers who are our customers and the police - hundreds of them. They should be out there fighting crime, not guarding a camp.
"This man-made climate change idea is a theory anyway - it is not a proven fact. And, in any case, the traffic queues caused by the camp are burning more fuel than would be burnt normally, so they are actually adding to the problem."
A group of people dressed as clowns exited the camp to stage what they called a "media circus". Police officers monitored the clowns as they marched off in random directions.
"We want to restore disorder," said a press release handed to journalists by the clowns.
Three squatters from the camp locked themselves on to the gates of a warehouse in Hayes, near Heathrow, owned by Israeli firm Carmel Agrexco, which imports fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs from Israel.
A police spokeswoman said there was "a small number of arrests - no more than six" at the blockade.
About 70 officers were deployed at the scene to monitor gathered protesters following initial reports of a disturbance.
Amos Orr, general manager of Agrexco UK, said: "They broke into the facility. A lot of them were drunk. They broke doors, spread papers everywhere and they were very aggressive. They were singing about Hamas."
A spokesman for the camp said anarchists had blockaded the warehouse.
He said: "Their action coincides with the nearby Camp for Climate Action and is part of the growing movement to boycott Israeli apartheid.
"They air-freight the food, bringing food from a place where people are hungry to a place where we have too much."
• Seven campaigners from Friday's climate change protest have been charged with criminal damage after super-gluing their hands to a Department of Transport building, Scotland Yard said yesterday.
The protesters, who appeared in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court today, were part of the climate change camp.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
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Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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