As climate change campaigners readied themselves for a weekend of direct action around Heathrow, nine activists took their protest against airport expansion to the heart of central London yesterday by glueing themselves to the doors of the Department for Transport.
Dressed as office workers in order to fool security guards, six protesters covered their hands withglue, walked up to the department's headquarters on Horseferry Road at 8.10am and stuck their hands to main and side entrances. Two others climbed up on to a platform above the main door and unfurled a banner condemning the government's plans to expand Heathrow airport.
Workers at the Department for Transport were left stranded outside their workplace for much of the next hour as security guards locked the building down. Police and paramedics arrived shortly afterwards to remove the protesters, who were taken to police stations at West Drayton, near Heathrow, and Staines about two hours later.
Much to the surprise of police and the protesters themselves, a tourist who was passing decided to join the protest and chained himself to a separate door with his bike lock. The tourist declined to give his name and, when asked about his nationality, said he was from "Wonderland".
Ten people, including the tourist, were arrested for aggravated trespass and the six activists who used glue were arrested on an additional charge of committing criminal damage.
With both hands securely glued to the righthand door of the department's main entrance, Leila Harris, who works as an administration assistant in a logistics company, said: "We're doing this today because the climate camp at Heathrow has highlighted the link between climate change and aviation expansion. The government admits that aviation accounts for 13 per cent of greenhouse gasses and yet they are doing nothing to reduce that."
Mika Minio, 26, said protests over the weekend would not just be limited to the Heathrow area. "This is just one of many actions being planned over the next few days to highlight the damage caused to the environment by climate change," he said.
The protesters said they were acting independently of the climate camp's organisers.
Feelings towards the protest in Whitehall were mixed with some passing cars expressing support for the activists by beeping their horns as they passed.
Richard Saville, a historian making his way to work on the Strand, said: "I think it's fantastic that young people are campaigning on issues that they feel strongly about."
But many workers at the Department for Transport were angry. "I think they're a bit narrow-minded to be honest," said one employee.
One worker expressed some sympathy for the activists. "I'm surprised [protesters] haven't targeted this place more often," she said. "You get a lot of protests down the Home Office but rarely over here. It's quite exciting really."Reuse content