Councils & Local Assembly Member Welcomes Minister's Runway Relief Pledge

Government confirms runway switch will continue half day respite

Local people will continue to get a half day’s break from aircraft noise after the Government confirmed its support for the practice of planes switching runways at 3pm each day.

Without the relief offered by runway alternation, people living under the flight path could experience non-stop noise throughout the day from aircraft on their final approach to Heathrow.

The announcement by transport minister Theresa Villiers was immediately welcomed by the 2M Group of councils which campaigns on behalf of communities affected by Heathrow operations.

Last year the group forced the previous government to back down on plans to end the 3pm change-round. It was the first major victory in a campaign which ended in the overturning of the third runway plan.

Wandsworth leader Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of 2M, said:
“For people in our part of London the threat of losing runway alternation was a greater fear than the third runway.  Our worry was that if planes were allowed to land continuously on one runway it would effectively double the noise dose for people under the flight path.

“At least with runway alternation you know will get a break from the noise. The closer you are to the airport, the bigger the problem. The minister’s announcement will put people’s minds at rest.”

The minister also confirmed that while the previous government’s decision to end the agreement which restricts aircraft form taking off from the northern runway over Cranford would stand, the impact would be contained by the assurance not to introduce mixed mode operations. This means that communities on all sides of the airport should experience the same half day’s respite from noise.

BAA has also been told to prepare suitable mitigation schemes for communities newly affected by the abolition of the Cranford agreement .

London Assembly member for Merton and Wandsworth, Richard Tracey, today backed the Government’s decision not to alter the use of the runways at Heathrow Airport. In a House of Commons statement, Transport minister Theresa Villiers announced that the Government would not be approving a switch to all day take off and landing, commonly referred to as mixed mode operations.
Commenting, Mr Tracey said:
“This is a victory for common sense, and very good news for the residents of west London who would have had their quality of life seriously affected by a move to mixed-mode operation at Heathrow. A switch to this type of operation would have delivered the negatives of a third run way by the back door”

You can view the minister’s announcement at

September 7, 2010