Northants police on high alert for drop-in protests at British Grand Prix

Northamptonshire Police has issued a series of warnings to potential protestors aiming to disrupt the 2021 Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit this weekend saying their activities will not be tolerated.

Jul 15, 2021
By Tony Thompson

In recent weeks a number of motorised paragliders have been seen flying at low altitude over the South Northants area where the circuit is based.

Although the motivations of the pilots remain unknown, the force said it is having to consider that such flights are test runs and that they intend to land during the race weekend.

Last month, during the France v Germany Euro 2020 match at the Allianz Arena in Munich, a paraglider with with “Kick Out Oil” and “Greenpeace” written on his paraglider flew into the stadium, leaving several people injured after clipping cables during his descent.

Detective Chief Inspector Johnny Campbell said: “If there are individuals out there considering flying in the area of Silverstone Circuit this weekend, I would strongly urge them to reconsider.

“We have seen recently at the European Football Championships how things can go horribly wrong and people can get hurt. We do not want this to happen here.

“During the British Grand Prix, Silverstone essentially becomes an extremely busy airport with television helicopters, military air traffic and commercial flights frequently using the airspace. This, coupled with Formula 1 cars going around the track at speeds of over 200mph, makes for an exceptionally dangerous environment for this kind of activity. Please do not put yourself or others at risk.

“Significant resource on the ground, in the air, and in technical capabilities, has been put in place to spot, monitor and detain any violations of air space during this event.”

Mark Asquith, chair of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) said: “At this stage, there is no way of knowing whether the flights in the Silverstone area were rehearsals for a protest at the Grand Prix, or simply a small number of innocent pilots misguidedly having fun.

“The BHPA does not welcome the use of para-motors in protest stunts, we have fought long and hard to obtain our freedoms to fly and such protests put these freedoms at risk. Similarly, recreational pilots engaging in low flying might now realise the concerns that they unintentionally raise. These pilots also put at risk our freedoms to fly.”

Det Chief Insp Campbell added: “I am grateful of the support from the BHPA and am aware that previous articles released caused some concern among this community. Northamptonshire Police will continue to work closely with the BHPA and Silverstone Circuit to investigate this issue.”

The force has also issued a reminder that drones are prohibited throughout the race weekend and the Civil Aviation Authority has imposed a flight restriction for the entirety of the Grand Prix period.

Specialist drone detection equipment that can quickly identify and stop anybody attempting to fly a drone is being deployed.

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