The Camp for Climate Change protesters set to protest at Heathrow Airport next week have set up a base at the Harlington sports ground, the BBC is reporting. 150 people occupied the site overnight and have erected a "temporary eco-village".
Although there are no students around to make active use of the site for sports, it is still used by Queen's Park Rangers for training. Other clubs also have equipment stored at the site, some of which is expected to be used over the summer tours season.
Next Sunday a day of "direct action" and "civil disobedience" will be launched from the camp, to protest against the environmental damage caused by aviation. The protest groups will also be joined by locals opposed to attempts to expand the airport. The village of Sipson, which neighbours the airport and sports ground, would be wiped off the map by a proposed third runway at Heathrow.
College staff have visited the site over the last couple of days and issued the following statement:
"The College is cooperating fully with the police and thanks them for their presence at and around its grounds. The College is concerned foremost that this protest should be peaceful, safe and not damage the land."
"Imperial College staff visited its Harlington sports ground on Sunday and again this morning. The College will be keeping a close eye on developments and will be reviewing them regularly as the week progresses."
"Imperial College is the freehold owner of this land and has not given permission to any person or organisation to have access to and/or to occupy these fields. Any person who gains access to and/or occupies these fields is doing so unlawfully and should vacate the field. Imperial College reserves all its rights, including any claim(s) for damages and costs, against all and any occupiers of these fields."
BAA successfully won an injunction against certain protesters last week, however it only applied to a small number of people. The judge hearing the case could not understand the original request, asking BAA to clarify exactly who they wanted banned.
BAA called for a complete ban of protests at the airport, citing its concern that police would be distracted and allow terrorists to launch an attack. Next weekend is expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the year for air travel. An outcry followed from protesters and many others, who took the view that banning legitimate protests because of terrorism meant the terrorists had won. Officers from four police forces are being drafted in due to concerns that the protests themselves could attract people (other than terrorists) looking to cause trouble.