Extinction Rebellion accused police of being "heavy handed" after a protester was arrested at an airport demonstration.

More than a hundred people from St Albans and Luton gathered at Luton Airport on Saturday, January 18 to protest against the airport's expansion plans.

The protest largely took place outside the building with campaigners holding banners and handing out leaflets.

A small group entered the airport to distribute leaflets, which is forbidden under airport byelaws, and it led to a man being arrested.

Bedfordshire Police said the man was asked to leave by an airport official. He failed to do so and was charged with remaining in the airport.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Protesters marching with a banner.

The environmental group said police officers were "needlessly threatening" as they warned protesters they could be arrested if they did not leave the building.

A group spokesperson said: "The response by police inside the airport was heavy-handed, needlessly threatening, and clearly in ignorance of the LBC climate emergency declaration.”

But police said they worked closely with the airport to create a space outside the terminal where Extinction Rebellion could protest, give out leaflets and gather for its march to Luton town hall.

Head of the force's airport policing unit inspector Alex House said: "We recognise and respect the right for peaceful protest, and will always do our best to accommodate that, whilst balancing the impact on critical airport operations and the many other members of the public not involved in the protest.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

More than a hundred people turned up for the protest.

“On this occasion, the Airport Policing Unit’s officers, who would usually be deployed throughout the entire airport site, were on hand at the terminal front to facilitate this.

"Support from police officers outside of the dedicated airport unit were used to backfill the provision of security and safety measures elsewhere around the airport.

"One man was arrested, and bailed, for a breach of airport byelaws, which prohibit a variety of activities within the airport footprint.

"He was charged with remaining on the airport, having been requested to leave by an airport official. This was after he had attempted to hand out leaflets, which is in contravention of other airport byelaws."

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Protesters marching.

Protesters also blamed the airport's management for how they were treated and said the airport chose to "ignore the climate emergency" declared by Luton Borough Council this month.

An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: "Luton airport is owned by Luton Borough Council and yet peaceful protestors were prevented from distributing leaflets in the airport, to explain the damaging consequences of flying."

A spokesperson for the airport said the number of officers at the event and the enforcement of byelaws are a matter for the police.

They said: "Climate change is a pressing global issue and we support the right of individuals to protest. However, we do not condone any criminal activity or action which disrupts our passengers’ travel plans."