An EL AL flight heading towards the UK was caught up in a four hour delay, as climate change activists staged a protest on the north runway at Heathrow Airport.

A supporter of direct action group Plane Stupid said a dozen demonstrators entered the runway after cutting a hole in a fence, campaigning against airport expansion and would stay there for as long as possible.

A Heathrow Airport spokesman said: “A group of people have breached the airport perimeter fence and are currently staging a protest on the northern runway.”

He added: “We are working closely with the police who are dealing with the incident. Both runways are open although there will still be delays – we are sorry for the disruption to passengers. Our priority remains to ensure the safe running of the airport.”

Jacob Firsel, who was delayed in Israel due to the protest tweeted: “Protests at Heathrow and we’re stuck on the runway in Tel Aviv. So much for good start to our vacation.”

He also posted an image on Facebook of his stationary plane, adding that he had been waiting for ‘four hours.’

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Jacob Firsel [from Facebook]

A video posted online showed several activists chained together and being spoken to by a police officer.

The officer told them: “As a consequence of you being here, you are causing severe disruption and it will be in the millions of pounds because it will take us a while to remove you.

“The cost will be in the couple of millions. The airport will attempt to make a civil recovery.”

He added: “There are international flights now being diverted.”

Ella Gilbert, one of the activists on the runway, said: “Building more runways goes against everything we’re being told by scientists and experts on climate change.

“This would massively increase carbon emissions exactly when we need to massively reduce them, that’s why we’re here.

“We want to say sorry to anyone whose day we’ve ruined, and we’re not saying that everybody who wants to fly is a bad person.

“It’s those who fly frequently and unnecessarily who are driving the need for expansion, and we cannot keep ignoring the terrifying consequences of flying like there’s no tomorrow.

“No ifs, no buts, no third runway. And we mean it.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that some of the demonstrators had chained themselves together using a so-called tripod.

A spokesman said: “Officers were alerted to a number of protesters who had made their way airside at Heathrow Airport. A small number of these protesters are believed to have chained themselves to a ‘tripod’. Officers are in attendance.”