Counter drone, Drone security, Press & Media, Unlocking The Skies

Extinction Rebellion use drones as part of Fawley Protest

Once again, Extinction Rebellion (XR) have used drones as part of their protest strategy. 

Footage released by the group today shows what appears to be a drone flying from Blackfield and Langley Football Club area, towards the oil refinery which is operated by ExxonMobil.

Extinction Rebellion climbed a silo at the Fawley oil refinery in Southampton on 28th October 2021

This isn’t the first time Fawley has been targeted by drones.  Almost two years ago to the day, Chris Yandell at the Southern Daily Echo, reported that multiple drones had been seen over the Fawley site.

The use of an unauthorised drone at an oil refinery has much the same operational impact, as using one at an airport.  Like what was seen with the drone sighting at Gatwick airport in 2018, an unauthorised drone presents a risk to the facility operator, meaning that their activities are severely disrupted.  The response from the facility operator could range from halting flights or stopping operations all together.  Either way the costs are significant.

XR have used drones as part of their protest strategy in the past.  Most notably in 2019 when they threatened to fly drones and shut down Heathrow.

Given how easily protest groups can get hold of very capable and low cost drones, we anticipate that protest groups like XR will continue to make use of drone technology, especially when they’re able to capture footage to support their media campaign, much like we can see with today’s incident.  Using a drone also means that a protestor might not have to trespass on a site and risk arrest, whilst still having their message heard.  

Organisations who might be subject to disruptive actions by protests groups, should consider how they may be susceptible to drone related risks.  At Drone Defence, we advocate for the responsible use of drones but we are aware of how they might be used to cause harm or disrupt activity.  

We have developed AeroTracker; our secure cloud-based drone tracking system provides organisations with early warning of drone activity close to their sites. AeroTracker records drone flights and produces reports which can be used to support prosecutions.

Find out more about AeroTracker and get in touch.