Heathrow poll launched as noise complaints soar
Wednesday November 14, 2012
A surge in Heathrow aircraft noise complaints has prompted the council to launch a quick poll to gauge local reaction to the relaxation of runway rules at the airport.
Last week it emerged that the number of aircraft noise complaints over west London has rocketed by nearly 900% – from more than 200 in June to a spike of around 1,800 in August.
Concerns over increased aircraft noise – due to BAA’s trial of new runway rules at Heathrow Airport – have been soaring in west London since the summer, according to Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) council.
Residents living under the flight path have been voicing concerns over the ‘Operational Freedoms’ trial – which allows the airport's operator BAA to use runways simultaneously under certain circumstances.
H&F Council is encouraging residents who are disturbed by aircraft noise to respond to BAA directly, so that their concerns are formally logged in the consultation, but has now also launched a poll of its own.
The quick poll – which asks for a yes or no answer – poses the question: ‘Has Heathrow Airport's trial of relaxed runway rules affected you? For example, have you noticed more aircraft noise?’.
Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Technical Services, says: “BAA’s relaxing of runway rules at Heathrow has triggered a wave of aircraft noise misery for thousands of residents under the flight path. The constant whining and deafening roars from more planes overhead is intolerable and I would encourage anyone who has been disturbed by these trials to make their views known.”
Historically the airport has used a runway alternation system which means using one runway for arrivals and the other for departures. Traditionally their use is switched halfway through the day at 3pm to give residents a predictable period of relief from aircraft noise.
At certain times BAA is already allowed to use both runways simultaneously for arrivals, mainly to clear backlogs of flights. However, under the current trials – which started on July 1 and last until March 2013 – the threshold for triggering dual use of the runways has been lowered. Both runways are now being used when planes face a 10-minute wait to land or take off or if there is more widespread disruption to the airport’s flight schedules, for example due to bad weather.
On a typical day around 665 aircraft fly over the borough with the earliest typically starting at 4:20am and flights continuing throughout the day, at intervals of about one every 90 seconds, until around midnight.
H&F Council has consistently argued that any form of expansion at Heathrow, including a third runway, would bring extra noise hell for residents, more air pollution put further pressure on overstretched roads and public transport in the area. H&F Council is part of the 2M campaign group that blocked a previous plan to expand Heathrow in the High Court in 2010.
In addition to voting on the council quick poll residents, who are disturbed by aircraft noise, should respond directly to BAA so that concerns are formally logged in their consultation. Visit www.heathrowairport.com/noise (opens new window) or call 0800 344 844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.