Council Calls On Heathrow to Tell The Truth

"Five facts Heathrow don’t want you to know about noise misery"

Councils in boroughs facing blanket noise misery from an expanded Heathrow are calling on the airport to spell out the real price communities will have to pay to satisfy its demand for growth.

Five local authority leaders say there are five key facts which are either missing or not spelt out clearly in the airport’s current publicity material.

KEY FACT 1 – The number of people already affected by noise from Heathrow is more than all the major European hub airports put together.

KEY FACT 2 – The combination of arrivals and departures and new flightpaths will mean seven-days-a-week noise for hundreds of thousands of people.

KEY FACT 3 – In many west London boroughs and Home Counties areas the number of communities newly exposed to noise will mean virtually no part of those boroughs will be safe from noise.

KEY FACT 4 – The current eight-hour respite which people in west London enjoy when aircraft switch runways will be slashed to just four hours.

KEY FACT 5 – The airport is backtracking on the Airport Commission’s recommendation for a night flight ban between 11.30pm and 6am as a condition of support for a third runway.

Leaders representing Richmond, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils say no parts of their boroughs will be spared aircraft noise if the third runway goes ahead.

The situation will be repeated across vast swathes of West London and the Home Counties and include central boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, pictured above, said: “This isn’t just about our boroughs - the impact from noise could affect people within the whole M25 area. This includes people who suffer from overflying already and who will now get more noise and less respite - and others who will experience noise for the first time. It’s a plague on all our houses. None of the MPs who voted for expansion knew at the time how their communities would be affected. The real impact of the third runway was hidden from all of us. It beggars belief that expansion on this scale could be allowed to go ahead on the basis of such incomplete information.”

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “The latest consultation while at last revealing the wider extent of the noise misery that Heathrow will inflict on residents still fails to paint the full picture. The price communities will have to pay for expansion could include noise seven days a week, with daily periods of respite cut by half.

“Heathrow is quite simply the wrong airport in the wrong place for this amount of growth. We all know the damaging health effects of this level of exposure to noise.
It is simply perverse to solve one airport’s demand for more capacity by putting at risk the heath of millions of people.”

Hillingdon Council Leader, Cllr Ray Puddifoot said: “When MPs were voting on a third runway none of them knew just how devastating the effect on residents' homes, health and wellbeing was likely to be. We have all been kept in the dark about where the extra flights would go, with this latest consultation yet another exercise in smoke and mirrors. We are looking forward to taking our fight against expansion to the High Court.”

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, pictured aboce, said:“Adding what is essentially another airport the size of Gatwick to Heathrow will significantly increase noise, congestion and pollution across west London stretching all the way along the M4 and past Windsor. There are much better projects our country can spend £18billion of taxpayers’ money on.

“Meanwhile, the Heathrow consultation appears deliberately confusing. I think they’re hoping people won’t wake up to the problems with their scheme for a third runway until it’s too late. That’s why we’re taking legal action. People deserve better.”

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, added: “We will be arguing in court that the Transport Secretary had a legal duty to identify all the areas that might be affected. Instead it is being left to the local authorities to work this out for their residents.”

The airport, which wants to add an extra 25,000 flights a year in advance of a third runway opening is consulting on new ‘design envelopes’ which show just where the new flight paths needed to accommodate expansion could go.

The potential routes depend on the introduction of new ‘curved’ approaches which would allow aircraft to join the final approach at a point closer to the airport than is currently possible.

The airport’s current annual capacity limit is set at 480,000 movements. The proposal to add 25,000 flights on existing runways before the third runway is open would breach this limit and would require a new planning consent as part of the permission for a third runway.

Most of the additional movements are expected to occur before 6am and 7am with up to 25 extra arrivals in this period.

A third runway is projected to increase the number of movements by more than half to 740,000 per annum.

The ‘Airspace and Future Operations’ consultation closes today (March 4).

Wandsworth is one of a coalition of councils seeking judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support for a third Heathrow runway. The group is challenging the Government on grounds including air pollution, climate change, noise and surface access impacts.

The hearing is set to begin in the High Court on March 11.

The group comprises the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hammersmith and Fulham, Windsor and Maidenhead Council, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “As part of an extensive airspace consultation, we are proposing options that would reduce the airport’s noise impacts. With Heathrow’s expansion, we would be able to guarantee predictable periods of respite for all our local communities - something that cannot be achieved today, extend the period without scheduled night flights, and offer a new noise insulation scheme which could be worth over £700 million.

“Heathrow was unanimously recommended for expansion after a three year independent study by the Airports Commission and Parliament voted overwhelmingly to back the plan last year following their assessment. We are committed to continuing our extensive engagement programme with local communities as we develop our plans.”


Lawyers representing the above coalition of local authorities, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace, who are all opposed to Heathrow expansion will make the case in the High Court from Monday, March 11 that the Government’s Airport National Policy Statement backing Heathrow expansion should be quashed.

Nic Ferriday, spokesperson for West London Friends of the Earth said: “This is one of the most opaque, confusing and potentially misleading consultations we have ever seen.”

WLFOE concerns are:
• The whole consultation had a set of about 10 questions, but if people responded online they were only shown some of the questions. They might well not know that other questions were hidden from them.
• The entire consultation is opaque and confusing. It is not about actual or proposed flight paths that would have actual impacts on communities. It is about “design envelopes”, which are once removed from “noise envelopes” which are removed once again from actual flight paths.
• The consultation only discusses noise. The impact on air pollution and climate change - which may well be different for the different options - are not mentioned.
• The bombshell that Heathrow wants to add 25,000 extra flights with just two runways was hidden away on page 13 of one of the consultation booklets. It was not clear to online respondents or to many of the people who visited the consultation ‘roadshow’.

Nic commented: “The reason why the consultation is so bad is that Heathrow Airport is hopelessly conflicted. If it were to be transparent and honest in its consultation, what it says would conflict with the propaganda put out in Heathrow’s multi-million pound public relations campaign for a third runway. It is clearly impossible to gauge the public’s real views from this consultation.”

March 5, 2019