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Extinction Rebellion co-founder avoids jail term for drone action near Heathrow
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Extinction Rebellion co-founder avoids jail term for drone action near Heathrow

Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil’s co-founder Roger Hallam has avoided imprisonment after attempting to bring disruption to Heathrow airport by getting involved in an action to fly toy drones in the vicinity.

Climate activists said the aim of the plan was to raise awareness about the impact of the airport’s proposed third runway on the climate.

Hallam, along with Dr Larch Maxey, had previously been found guilty of conspiracy to cause public nuisance in relation to the Heathrow drones action. A third man, Mike Lynch-White, pleaded guilty.

At a sentencing hearing at Isleworth crown court in west London on Friday, Hallam and Maxey were both given two-year sentences suspended for 18 months. Lynch-White was given a 17-month sentence suspended for 18 months. All are required to carry out hundreds of hours of community service.

Climate activists who attended court welcomed the fact that the men received non-custodial sentences.

The drones were in the air between 14 and 18 September 2019 and in the words of Judge Edmunds, when passing sentence on Friday, “the action fizzled out, with no more than 20 drones within a five-day period” flown.

The drone flights were within the 5km exclusion zone around the airport.

While the judge said he was satisfied that all three men were committed to the principle of non-violence, he found them to be “naive” about the risks of the action.

In November 2023 the court heard that Hallam and others planned to fly drones near Heathrow in order to “paralyse” the airport and “embarrass” the government into abandoning plans for a third runway there.

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The action was staged by the organisation Heathrow Pause, which called for plans for the airport’s third runway to be halted due to its projected impact on climate breakdown, noise and air pollution, and to open up a debate.

In a statement issued before the sentencing hearing, Hallam said: “Humankind is heading for indescribable suffering if we continue to put carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Thousands of people need to create mass economic disruption and go to prison in order to force governments to protect their people and enact legislation that will rapidly reduce carbon emissions.”

Source: theguardian.com