Woken up by a plane? Tell Patrick

Council ask residents to write to Transport Secretary

Wandsworth Council is asking local residents to write to Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to tell him how their lives are affected by aircraft noise.

The minister is set to make changes to Heathrow flight pattern rules which will have major impacts on residents' health and quality of life.

Over the last 14 months the council has received more than 1,000 reports of increased aviation noise from local people and complaints about the strain of being kept awake from 4.30 in the morning as the first flights come in.

During this time Heathrow has been conducting a complex flight pattern trial which involves bringing more planes into land during respite periods when residents would normally expect a break from overhead noise.

The experiment has not affected capacity at the airport - this has remained capped.

Despite the surge in complaints, Heathrow Airport Ltd (formerly BAA), the Civil Aviation Authority nor the Department for Transport has attempted to measure the impact on residents on a meaningful scale.

Mr McLoughlin will soon decide whether to make the trial procedures permanent as well as considering changes to night flight rules.

Councillors fear that key decisions will be based on an unbalanced case which shows a modest operational benefit for the airport against an unquantifiable noise impact for residents.

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:

"There has been no serious attempt to engage with local people over these trials nor assess the impacts of people's day-to-day lives. How can our residents have any confidence in a process they have been shut out of from the start?

"A report will soon be presented to the Transport Secretary which we fear will understate the noise impacts of this trial and the distress it has caused ordinary Londoners. Instead, it will show a minor operational benefit for Heathrow.

"We are asking our residents to write to Mr McLoughlin to share their experiences of the trial and how early morning flights affect their well-being. Heathrow won't listen so we have to go direct to the decision maker."

You can email Patrick McLoughlin at patrick.mcloughlin@dft.gsi.gov.uk

Wandsworth Council is a founder member of the 2M group. This is an all-party alliance of more than 20 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities.

The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.

February 11, 2013