Climate change activists planned to go ahead and fly drones close to Heathrow this morning despite members being arrested.

Extinction Rebellion splinter group Heathrow Pause said it aimed to use devices within the no-fly zone as part of efforts to halt the airport’s planned expansion.

However, aircraft began flying in and out of Heathrow as normal from around 5am this morning with two arrests made on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

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Police made previous arrests in Bethnal Green and Highgate in London on Thursday.

The group said it had up to 70 more pilots available to fly drones and would “carry on exactly as planned”.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow’s runways and taxiways remain open and fully operational despite attempts to disrupt the airport through the illegal use of drones in protest nearby.

“We will continue to work with the authorities to carry out dynamic risk assessment programmes and keep our passengers flying safely on their journeys today.”

The airport had said yesterday: “We are working closely with the authorities to ensure Heathrow airport will remain open on 13 September despite the threat of illegal protest activity involving the use of drones.

“We’d like to reassure passengers that we will be using our drone mitigation and detection systems, dynamic situation assessments and our partnership with authorities, to minimise any intended disruption and keep you safe.

“Safety is always our number one priority.

“We agree with the need to act on climate change but it is through constructive engagement and action that real progress will be made.

“Attempting to disrupt hard-working passengers and families taking flights, will not solve the issue.”

The Metropolitan Police said three men and two women were held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance in relation to operations at Heathrow.

Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We believe these arrests to be a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure.

“We remain fully prepared for the planned protest, and will work quickly to identify criminal activity and arrest anyone committing offences.”