Extinction Rebellion Heathrow Disruption Proposal

| June 13, 2019 | Leave a Comment

Media Type: Report / Policy Brief

Categories: , , , ,

An Extinction Rebellion team has proposed a pressure and movement building action in the context of the widespread acceptance that we are now in a climate and ecological emergency. This team has representatives from working groups across Extinction Rebellion, including the Actions, Media & Messaging, Wellbeing and Legal national working groups.

This plan is designed to ensure that the Heathrow Authorities close their airport for the whole of the 18th June and for up to 10 days from July 1st as a “pause” in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the next generation and the natural world.

The full new proposal can be read here – Action Proposal – plus the Legal Briefing.


Please give your feedback to the new proposal here.

Further Info

Actions within XR will often aim to be controversial and polarising because it helps to raise the profile of the issue and force government action regardless of “popularity” of the action. We understand that many people will be upset about the kind of action taken. However, emotional reactions are key to changing opinions, not just the rational argument of science and stats that has been used for the last 30 years. In any case, it is important to remember that XR activists are acting from a place of fear, sacrifice, love and courage. This will come out in different ways for different people. Importantly, so long as rebels stick to the 10 principles and values, they should be respected whatever their role in the movement is.

Not everyone has to like us. We don’t need to change the minds of those in opposition to win. We don’t need everyone to like our movement or approve of our tactics. Research shows that even tactics the public dislikes can increase support for an issue. Even a movement that is seen as unpopular can continue winning people to its cause. Of course, this does not mean that we should be purposefully alienating. There is a fine line between protests to move people towards our side and alienating potential supporters. Protests that are disruptive or dramatize an issue should still appeal to common sense values. As our principles and values say, we are “leaving our comfort zones” to make this change happen and sometimes that means polarising people.

People’s minds change through embodiment (doing stuff), not through telling them what to think.It is through our actions that we mobilise greater numbers and spark conversations that will get people to articulate what they feel about the emergency we face. We want the public to express how they feel about the crisis as it is through articulation that they begin to believe in what they say. We all know that the crisis is going to kill lots of people – but it is only when people start to talk about will then begin to act and trigger change. The emotional connection and empathy to the issue is what changes people’s minds – we create actions that spark this emotional reaction and use community organising to encourage the public to speak their mind about what we face.

Action Info:

Any action taken by Extinction Rebellion with regards to Heathrow Airport will adhere completely to our total commitment to non-violence and passenger safety. Since the leak of the internal proposal, Extinction Rebellion has consulted internally and externally to arrive at the following template for any Extinction Rebellion-sanctioned action at Heathrow Airport:

  • Our actions are nonviolent and proportionate to the emergency that we find ourselves in.
  • Drones will NOT be flown within flight paths. If drones are part of any planned Heathrow action, operators will fly them at a maximum height of six feet (1.82 meters) within the restricted 5km zone surrounding Heathrow, but NOT within flight paths as clearly indicated in the map below. As an example, advance notice could be given by Extinction Rebellion that a drone might be flown close to head height in a public park in West Drayton, presenting the airport authorities with the opportunity to make an advance decision to safely close air space for the duration of this action.
  • All drones will be small, lightweight and be flown no higher than six feet (head height), in respect of government legislation that prohibits flying above 400 feet. It is Extinction Rebellion’s contention that flying a lightweight drone at a maximum height of six feet, outside flight paths, poses no risk to passing aircraft.
  • The airport authorities and the general public be given two months’ advance notice of the start date and time of any planned action. Above all, this notice period provides an appropriate period for the authorities to safely plan the closure of the airport for the duration of the action. We hope it also provides members of the general public with sufficient time to seek alternative travel arrangements if necessary.

Map showing the Heathrow Flight Paths (hatched rectangles) in which no drones would be flown and the remaining 5km exclusion zone in which drones could be flown.

The reality is that we do not want to plan any action at Heathrow that leads to the orderly and safe closure of airspace. However, Government inaction compels us to act. Our intention is to repeatedly draw attention to the Climate and Ecological Emergency until the Government tells the truth and acts upon that truth.

If you have any further concerns or questions please contact heathrowproposal@protonmail.com.

It is time to cast off our fear in the face of ecological collapse. We must act now with love and rage.


The Actions Strategy Team

Interested in doing more with Extinction Rebellion?

Sign Up Here.

The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.