Windlesham​ Society.
Windlesham​ Society.

Heathrow Update

29TH May was the meeting of the Noise and Airspace Community Forum. This meets every other month and I represent the Society at the meeting.

The meeting lasted 4 hours and these are just the highlights.

We started with the Data Dashboard which tells us how many planes have taken off and landed without being scheduled within the night flights period of 11.30 to 4.30.

There were very few breaches since we last met and those that there were, were caused by Weather making long haul flights later than scheduled.

Between 11 and 11.30 every evening no flights are scheduled, this is the “shoulder” period where it allows late planes to take off and land that were scheduled for before 11. Heathrow confessed that they do not record this number. Community Representatives find this very irritating as those communities very close to Heathrow claim this disturbs their nights and affects their health. They have recorded over 20 flights some nights at that time. Heathrow promised to collect this data in future.

There was a major row when a representative sought clarification of whether the night flight times were taken at Runway or at Stand. Communities feel it should be runway, Heathrow didn’t know and CAA say the regulations are when it leaves the stand. This means planes leaving the stand at 11.25 are technically ok but actually take off at 11.45.

We then agreed a small research project to see which areas where covered by community group members so it could be seen where the gaps are.

The CAA update told us that they are working on new sustainability noise action plans ready by mid-2025.Biodiversity Reports on Heathrow are being prepared and the consultation on Night Flights, where submissions are in and being considered by DEFRA are delayed by the Election.

In the Community Slot we had a presentation from the Teddington Action Group on the regulations for planes taking off. There are two options available to Airports Heathrow are behind most airports in the world in the height planes have to get to when they first take off. It should be high quickly to minimise noise, but this costs more in fuel.

The second issue was the current consultation on flight paths. This was due to finish on 28th May, On 29th May it was delayed to 14th June and then there was uncertainty about the date. Some Community Groups are threatening legal action against CAA saying the wrong issues have been consulted on, the Treasury require a de minimis option which is not there. The Green Belt has not been considered which it must be by law etc etc. The Community Groups are asking for 30th September as the closing date. The CAA are consulting on environmental considerations rather than Noise but noise is the statutory determinant. CAA eventually agreed to meet a subgroup to discuss.

There will be further consultation before decisions are recommended but this consultation was whether or not to rule out some of the flight paths so detailed work could be done on the remainder. They have recommended all 40 flight paths remain to be considered. This is a major issue for us. They are forwarding noise contours and when I get them, I will circulate.

Heathrow reported they are nearing consultation on an easterly approach alternation. Whereby the runway will be used for landing and take-off. This affects Cranford and Longford.

This affects nearly a million people. A noise barrier is to be built and sound insulation grants offered. The Cranford Group report that they already suffer from engine testing every night between 3.30 and 4.10 am.

At the next meeting we will consider Defra’s Noise Action plan and the long awaited major study on Noise And Health.