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Heathrow airport's operator wins injunction to stop environmental protesters

The operators of Europe's largest airport won a court injunction Monday to ban environmental protesters staging a weeklong demonstration at Heathrow.

Justice Caroline Swift granted the order at London's High Court, saying the planned rally risked disrupting operations at the airport, which handles around 68 million passengers per year.

Heathrow's operator, BAA PLC, said it needed to defend the airport and its passengers from unlawful action by several environmental groups opposed to airport expansion.

Green campaigners had dubbed the legal move "the mother of all injunctions," saying it was so broad it could prevent millions of members of environmental groups from traveling to the site.

"It seems plain that a central point of the camp will be direct action, including unlawful direct action, that would be designed to affect the rights of thousands of people," Swift said, giving her ruling.

Environmentalists planned to camp outside the airport from Aug. 14-21 to raise awareness of climate change and proposed airport expansion.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone had backed the protesters, accusing the airport operator of mounting an attack on the right to peaceful protest. BAA said it would allow lawful protest at the airport in designated zones.