Climate activists have called off a protest that planned to use drones to force the closure of Heathrow Airport this summer.

Extinction Rebellion, the group that brought London to a standstill in April, had originally scheduled a day of protesting with drones on Tuesday, and a further 10 days starting on 1 July.

But on Sunday, the environmental group said it had postponed the demonstration amid public concerns for safety.

It said: “Extinction Rebellion will not be carrying out any actions at Heathrow Airport in June or July this year, aimed at causing disruption to holidaymakers and those planning to use the airport in this period.”

“The Heathrow Airport authorities will therefore not have to pause any summer flights.”

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Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge
Image:
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators shut down Waterloo Bridge in April

The group’s decision followed a warning from the Metropolitan Police on Saturday that said any endangerment of an aircraft could “result in a life sentence”.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “If flown into the path of an aircraft, a drone has the potential to cause great harm to those on board.

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“Affecting the safety of aircraft passengers is very different to blocking roads around London, and should this happen, the consequences will reflect the severity of the offence.”

However, Extinction Rebellion’s statement on Sunday said any accusations of the group wanting to endanger lives was a “depressing and predictable smear”.

Protesters are demanding authorities halt plans to build a new runway at Heathrow, which they say would contribute to an ongoing “climate and ecological emergency”.

“The addition of the planned third runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness,” the group said.

Sunday’s statement from the group said that while the summer protest had been postponed, it had “not removed Heathrow Airport from its strategic planning”.