Windlesham​ Society.
Windlesham​ Society.

HEATHROW AIRPORT -BLOG 1

There are actually 3 consultations and a matter of concern around aircraft noise currently.

In Windlesham we are quite lucky to escape much of the air traffic to and from the airport and the noise and pollution that goes with it.

However the considerable bounce back from Covid means that there is pressure from Heathrow to alter the way things are at present.

Because of the bounceback in passenger numbers Heathrow is speeding up their review of the third runway plans. This project was shelved during Covid but the airport is getting fuller and fuller. There is no timescale on this but clearly Heathrow see it as a fairly urgent project.

In this year Heathrow expects to see an increase in passengers to 82.4m. The record was in 2019 at 80.9m.

Also there will be 475,000 aircraft movements this year. The “hard cap” limit on movements is 480,000.

This will be controversial and there will be full consultation in due course.

As shown in the May Windlesham Magazine the consultation on Night Flights closes in mid-May. Any changes will take effect from October 2025. The Government are waiting for a major study on the effect of aircraft noise on health. This study was delayed by Covid but will be published in 2025 or 2026.

For that reason the recommendation on the night flight consultation is to adopt a 3-year night flight regime from October 2025 to October 2028.

For this reason the recommendation is to keep the existing limits. At Heathrow these are a movement limit of 2,550 flights in Winter and 3,250 in summer. There is also a noise quota limit which cannot be breached. Every type of aircraft is assigned a noise classification based on the decibels produced.

Since the noise limit cannot be breached this is to incentivise the use of quieter aircraft.

There are dispensations to these figures for essential flights. These flights fall outside the night flight totals and cause the greatest concern to Community groups, mainly because these flights are at the discretion of the airport. The number of dispensations given is reported each quarter and provides a great deal of discussion at the quarterly meetings.

Dispensations are for VIPs on official visits, relief flights, late running flights and military aircraft with specific approval. The numbers are not large-winter 22/23 were 32 and Summer 2023 there were 3.

There is also a consultation which at this stage is only for community groups which is about Heathrow Modernisation. This could have a serious effect on us as it proposes an increase in the number of agreed flight paths from the current 30 to 41.

The last area of concern is Farnborough Airport . Farnborough is seeking permission to increase the number of flights using Farnborough from 30,000 to 40,000 a year. As Farnborough is small it is not subject to Government Control but is regulated by Planning decisions from Rushmoor Council.

The Windlesham Society is a full member of the Community Groups Consultative Committee and attends regular meetings with Heathrow as well as informal zoom meetings between themselves.