Climate-campaign group Heathrow Pause is planning to fly toy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, within London Heathrow Airport’s exclusion zone “from Sept. 13” with the aim of keeping flights grounded.

The objective is to highlight the “incompatibility” between the UK government’s commitment to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 and Heathrow’s expansion plans.

In a statement released Aug. 29, Heathrow Pause said it would fly drones within the airport’s 5km [3.1 mi.] exclusion zone at “regular intervals.”

“Continual drone flights during the day will ensure that, to comply with Heathrow’s own rules, no aircraft flights take place,” Heathrow Pause said.

Four activists will meet with Heathrow executives and police Aug. 30 to discuss their plans.

The body said there will be “strict safety measures and protocols” in place to make sure nobody is harmed. There will be a “direct communication hotline” with authorities and, “in the case of a genuine emergency, all drone use will stop,” they said.

Small lightweight toy drones will be flown no higher than 6ft, keeping the devices well below the 7kg and 400ft deemed hazardous by government regulation, the body said. “Our tiny toy drones are clearly no risk to aircraft.”

The action will begin from 0300 local time, before the airport opens, forcing Heathrow to decide whether to allow flights.

Heathrow will be given at least one hour’s advance notice before each flight and the drones will not be flown within flight paths.

“As an example, advance notice could be given that a drone might be flown just above head height in a public park in West Drayton, presenting the airport authorities with the advance decision to safely close air space for the duration of this action.”

Once their drone flight is completed for the day, the activists will call the police to surrender themselves and wait to be peacefully arrested.

“Our protocols ensure this will be a nonviolent action. There is nothing violent about flying drones when there are no scheduled flights in the air. Initiating those scheduled flights is the sole responsibility of the airport authorities.”

Heathrow Pause said in a statement: “Even though we realize this action could result in the safe and orderly closure of West London airspace, the honest truth is that we would prefer not to take any action at Heathrow Airport. Sadly, the government’s inaction on climate change, and the looming catastrophe of airport expansion, gives us no choice, and compels us to act.”

Heathrow Airport and the Metropolitan Police did not immediately respond to ATW’s request for comment.

In late 2018, flights at London Gatwick Airport were halted over a period of days by drone activity. On Jan. 8, 2019, Heathrow briefly suspended departures to investigate a drone sighting.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com