British police say they have arrested five people over a plan by environmental activists to fly drones near Heathrow Airport.

The Metropolitan Police force says three men and two women, aged between their 20s and their 50s, were arrested in London "on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance."

A group calling itself Heathrow Pause planned to disrupt Heathrow with drones on Friday to protest plans for a third runway at Europe's busiest airport.

Heathrow Pause: Activists proposing a 'drone protest' at London's busiest airport have been arested. Photo / Supplied, AP
Heathrow Pause: Activists proposing a 'drone protest' at London's busiest airport have been arested. Photo / Supplied, AP

The group said members Roger Hallam and Mike Lynch-White were arrested while being interviewed at a cafe by a German magazine. Three others were detained in north London.

Advertisement

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said Thursday's arrests were "a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure."

Hallam a co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion group which first proposed the Heathrow Pause protest to take drones over Heathrow Airspace as far back as May.

Although the group said it was it would "not take action that would put airline passengers at risk" and was "fully committed to non-violence," a spokesperson for the group told the BBC that "in the face of climate and ecological collapse [would] continue to build a peaceful movement".

When these plans were first discussed Heathrow made a statement regarding the use of drones in protests saying it was a "reckless action that if carried out could endanger the lives of the travelling public and our colleagues".

"We agree with the need to act on climate change, but that requires us to work together constructively - not commit serious criminal offences just as hard-working people prepare to spend a well-earned holiday with their family and friends"

A consultation document had been shared between group members detailing the drone plans as early as April, and details of the plan were shared with London's Metropolitan Police on Tuesday.

The Extinction Rebellion protest group began a series of planned week long protests across UK cities this summer. Photo / Getty Images
The Extinction Rebellion protest group began a series of planned week long protests across UK cities this summer. Photo / Getty Images

The group were warned at the time that the "illegal activity" would be met with the full force of the law and that flying drones to deliberately threaten air traffic carries a maximum life sentence.

The Extinction Rebellion activists has seen climate change protests in the UK capital over the Summer and an April demonstration that led to 1130 arrests .

Advertisement

With additional AP reporting