UK 'Heathrow 13' climate change activists avoid prison

24th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

A group of climate change activists who staged a sit-in on a runway at the UK's largest airport last year avoided prison sentences on Wednesday.

The July 2015 protest against plans to add a third runway to London's Heathrow Airport caused the cancellation of 25 flights and disruption to thousands of passengers.

The 13 protestors were found guilty last month of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area.

The protestors, known as the Heathrow 13, each received a six weeks prison term suspended for 12 months. A judge had previously warned them to expect a custodial sentence.

They have been banned from Heathrow and will have to do unpaid community work.

The activists, from the group Plane Stupid, attached themselves to each other and to fencing with bicycle locks to protest at plans to build a third runway at the airport.

District judge Deborah Wright told the defendants at the sentencing in Willesden, north west London, that the crimes they carried out had been "carefully orchestrated and timed to a date that was to your convenience".

There was a carnival atmosphere on the steps outside the court, with supporters bursting into a chorus of We Are The Champions.

Crowds had gathered throughout the day holding banners which read "stronger together" and "if government will not protect our climate ordinary responsible people have to take a stand".

The government is not expected to make a decision on the runway before the summer of 2016.

London's five airports form the busiest air hub in the world with around 135 million passengers a year.

Heathrow handled 73.4 million passengers in 2014, making it Europe's biggest airport by passenger traffic.

© 2016 AFP

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