Protesters force closure of Heathrow owner's offices

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The Independent Online

Climate change protesters blockading the main entrance to BAA's headquarters forced the office's closure yesterday as the 24 hours of direct action against Heathrow airport's expansion came to a powerful end with demonstrations held all over the country.

After their clashes with riot police on Sunday afternoon, inhabitants of the Camp for Climate Action staged a flurry of largely peaceful demonstrations across south England, followed by a party in the evening to celebrate their successes over the past week. Campaigners will begin to dismantle the camp this evening

BAA, the company that owns Heathrow, shut down its headquarters yesterday morning after protesters who had camped overnight on Sunday blockaded the main entrance. More than 500 protesters had begun camping outside BAA's offices, on the northern tip of Heathrow's perimeter fence, on Sunday afternoon. Approximately half of those remained overnight, and when BAA workers arrived at about 8am they were advised by senior management to take the day off. Police reported a number of minor skirmishes but no arrests.

In Suffolk, five protesters blockaded the main entrance road to the Sizewell A and Sizewell B nuclear power plants. After the protesters locked themselves into concrete blocks weighing up to 100kg, they were forcibly removed by members of the Civil Nuclear Police Force. Melanie Harrison, 36, who works for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said: "Three police officers dragged me across the road while I was screaming 'You're going to break my arm'".

Many of the campaigners' actions over the past week have targeted corporations that they believe profit unjustly from the aviation industry. That continued yesterday as 15 protesters, including those belonging to the group Plane Stupid, occupied the Oxford headquarters of Climate Care, the company that administrates British Airway's carbon offsetting scheme. Dressed as red herrings, the protesters entered the offices and delivered a report called "The Carbon Neutral Myth", produced by Carbon Trade Watch. They had a two-hour roundtable discussion with the managing director and other senior staff.

Other demonstrations took place in London. Ten protesters, also dressed as red herrings, distributed leaflets at the offices of the Carbon Neutral Company in King's Cross, which campaigners accuse of misleading consumers into believing that carbon offsetting is an effective means of tackling carbon emissions. In St James's Square, seven protesters were arrested and taken to Charing Cross police station after gluing themselves to two entrances of BP's head office. They had treacle poured over their bodies to symbolise oil being wasted by the petroleum industry.

In probably the most inventive of yesterday's protests, 20 campaigners demonstrated at the offices of Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm that bought Leeds-Bradford International Airport for £145.5m in May. Dressed in Yorkshire flat-caps, and armed with baskets of Yorkshire puddings that they distributed to staff, the protesters spent 45 minutes chanting under a banner that read "Yorkshire's flooding, ya daft puddings!".

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