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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Airport protesters occupy crane
Protesters on crane
The protesters have been on the crane since Monday morning
Four of the protesters who occupied a crane on the construction site of Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport have come down.

Airports operator BAA said eight demonstrators got through the site perimeter at about 0730 BST on Monday.

Hounslow Against New Terminals (HANT), a group of local residents and protesters against airport expansion, has claimed responsibility for the protest.

It said the group occupied the crane in protest against the government's "aggressive airport expansion programme" and plans for a sixth terminal and third runway at Heathrow.

The four who were talked down are being questioned by police while the remaining protesters have said they are in for the long haul - possibly three or four days.

One activist, who gave his name as Colin, said: "We are occupying this crane indefinitely because if BAA gets its way, our community will pay with the loss of our homes, schools and health.

We consider this type of direct action to be completely irresponsible
BAA spokeswoman
"We are sick of corporate greed bulldozing the needs of our population."

A BAA spokeswoman said: "The protesters occupied a single crane located at the perimeter of the airport.

"We consider this type of direct action to be completely irresponsible."

The crane is one of 22 on the Terminal Five project and staff who were working nearby have been redeployed to other parts of the site.

Building of the fifth terminal began earlier this year and BAA has since proposed a possible third runway and sixth terminal.

'Fully understand'

Residents' groups and environmentalists have been threatening to mount a campaign of direct action against any plans to expand airports in the south east.

The government is still considering a number of options about how to expand capacity of airports in the south east - including further development of Heathrow.

John Stewart, chairman of campaign group HACAN ClearSkies, said they were not involved in the protest but "fully understand why people are taking direct action".

"People around Heathrow feel that all they have had from successive governments is a series of broken promises.

"The government has only listened to the siren call of the aviation industry for ever more expansion.

"Perhaps the voice from the top of the crane will make them sit up and take notice."

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