Eight protesters were arrested outside the Labour Party Headquarters in Westminster today during a protest against a third runway at Heathrow airport. 

Activists surrounded the building - waving banners, spray-painting the walls and writing messages in chalk on the pavement. Those arrested were taken to Wandsworth police station.

Protestor Rob Basto said: “If Heathrow goes ahead and has a third runway it will be emitting as much carbon as a small country.

“Already 9,000 people a year in London die from air pollution and this will make it a lot worse.

“The feeling is that if we can get Labour strongly behind opposing the airport then there’s a good chance of it being carried in the vote that’s coming up.”

The parliamentary vote on the Airports National Policy Statement, which advocates for a third runway, is expected later this month. 

While Theresa May is keen to go ahead with plans for the development, it is thought that as many as 30 Conservative MPs could oppose it. 

Campaigners believe that with the Tories divided, their best hope at stopping expansion is a Labour party united against it. 

They are therefore calling on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to impose a three-line whip to force members of his party to vote against the measure.

The Vote No Heathrow campaign say they have repeatedly requested a meeting with Mr Corbyn but to no avail. As such, they feel they have “no choice but to engage in civil disobedience to bring attention to this crucial issue.”

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In principle, both Mr Corbyn and the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell are opposed to expansion but are reluctant to make this the official party line for fear of angering trade unions. 

Unite, a union that played a key role in securing Mr Corbyn’s leadership, is strongly in favour of the third runway, owing to the job opportunities it could bring to the working-class workforce. 

Against this however, politicians must weigh up the impact on local people. Annie Randall of Vote No Heathrow said: “We are in the midst of a housing crisis, and they plan to demolish over 700 homes, which if you times by three or four people per home, that’s thousands of people that are going to be displaced and potentially not re-housed.”  

In response to the protests, Parmjit Dhanda, representative of the pro-expansion Back Heathrow group and an ex-Labour MP said: “Vandalism is a sure-fire way of demonstrating your lack of willingness to engage in an important debate.

“We firmly believe in the democratic process and believe reasonable people will listen to the facts and hope they won't be intimidated by a vocal minority.

He added: “It’s crucial that Heathrow builds on its commitments to the environment. It has already become carbon neutral and is putting in place the largest car sharing scheme in Europe. 

“The airport is incentivising slots for take-off and landing for the cleanest aeroplanes and we have a vital commitment (in law) that no aircraft will take off from a new runway until all EU air quality regulations are met.”