Three UK airports get injunction to stop environmental protesters disrupting flights

FILE PHOTO: Just Stop Oil spray paints planes at Stansted

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) - The owners of three British airports were granted a court order on Friday to stop environmental protesters from potentially disrupting flights over the summer holidays.

East Midlands, Manchester and Stansted airports applied for an injunction to prevent "persons unknown" from trespassing on their land, in an effort to prevent disruptive protests.

Protest group Just Stop Oil has said it plans to target airports in Britain during the summer, the airports' lawyer Timothy Morshead told London's High Court.

He referred in particular to a June incident when two protesters spray-painted planes at London's Stansted airport having cut a hole in a perimeter fence with an angle grinder.

"The criminal law can only work in hindsight and, where you are dealing with something as sensitive as an airport, that's problematic," Morshead said.

Just Stop Oil did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The group has said it uses disruptive actions to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.

Judge Rosalind Coe granted the three airports a 12-month injunction following a hearing at which no protest group was represented.

The judge said that "there is clear evidence that there is a threat and intention to target airports" which required a court order to prevent disruption.

The airports' move follows similar applications for injunctions by public bodies and government agencies in response to high-profile protest actions in recent years.

British police last week separately said they had arrested 27 climate activists on suspicion of planning to cause disruption at airports this summer.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Rod Nickel)