Two people arrested after activists spray private jets with paint at Stansted

Just Stop Oil activists have sprayed orange paint over private jets at Stansted airport on the airfield where Taylor Swift’s plane is stationed, the environmental group has said.

Two activists, Jennifer Kowalski, 28, a former sustainability manager from Dumbarton, and Cole Macdonald, 22, from Brighton, broke into a private airfield in Stansted at 5am on Thursday before targeting the jet.

Essex police said two women, aged 28 and 22, had been arrested.

They said: “Officers were on the scene within minutes and detained two people. The airport and flights are operating as normal. A 22-year-old woman from Brighton and a 28-year-old woman from Dumbarton have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and interference with the use or operation of national infrastructure.”

In a post on X, Just Stop Oil (JSO) said two activists had “cut the fence into the private airfield at Stansted where taylorswift13’s jet is parked, demanding an emergency treaty to end fossil fuels by 2030”.

The accompanying video showed one of the activists cutting a hole in the fence before spraying the paint over the jets.

In February lawyers for Taylor Swift threatened legal action against a student who is tracking Swift’s jet use via social media. The X account CelebJets found that the plane owned by Swift was the most used by celebrities emitting more than 8,000 tonnes of carbon. A spokesperson for the singer denied that Swift was on every flight, saying her plane is loaned out to others.

The Stansted demonstration came as English Heritage pleaded with JSO to stop targeting cultural monuments after two protesters sprayed orange power on Stonehenge.

Nick Merriman, the chief executive of the national body that cares for hundreds of national properties and sites, including Stonehenge, condemned the protest as “vandalism to one of the world’s most celebrated ancient monuments”.

Two JSO activists were arrested after the incident on Wednesday before summer solstice celebrations at the monument, which are due to begin on Thursday evening.

The group has targeted a series of cultural institutions in recent months including disrupting a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall; damaging a case around the Magna Carta at the British Library and throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Merriman said: “We respect the rights of people to protest as an important right in British life. But we wish people would channel their protests away from cultural heritage sites, museums and galleries, because we feel that doesn’t actually help their cause and causes this huge upset and disruption to the operation of these important sites.”

In a statement about the Stonehenge protest, Just Stop Oil said it was time for “megalithic action” to stop the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

It said: “Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions. We have to come together to defend humanity, or we risk everything. That’s why Just Stop Oil is demanding that our next government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.”

Merriman said the protest was “difficult to understand”.

He said: “Stonehenge is about 5,000 years old, and people in those ancient times were living so sustainably, and the stones are a testament to the desire of people to connect with nature and the Earth and the sun and the moon as well as each other.”

Restorers have managed to clean the orange powder from the stones using blown air to avoid damaging rare lichens on the surface, Merriman said.

He said: “Lichens are very fragile and sensitive indications of climate change, and the lichens on Stonehenge are actually quite rare in southern England. Luckily, our staff moved very quickly to remove the powdered substance from the lichen so it looks like they are OK.”

He said that if conditions had been wet more damage could have been done. “We were very lucky, given that the atrocious weather we’ve had recently, that it wasn’t done in pouring rain, where we fear that there would have been quite some considerable damage to the lichens,” Merriman said.

He added that the site was now open to the public again and for the solstice on Thursday.