Night flights and daytime noise set to grow

Council warns more night flights & landing overhead for Putney residents


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Lister - runway news 'as bad as it gets'

No third runway for at least a decade

Associated articles on this issue

London Together Against a Third Runway

Tony Colman less gloomy about 3rd runway

More night flights and more landings overhead during the day will bring added noise misery to hundreds of thousands of people in south and west London both before and after Heathrow's planned third runway begins operating.

And while the new third runway may not come in until 2015 other less visible devices for increasing capacity like ending runway alternation and removing the limit on night flight movements could come in much sooner.

Allowing airlines to use both existing runways for landings (instead of using one for take-offs and the other for arrivals) could generate an extra 20,000 flights year as well as extending noise nuisance for longer periods throughout the day.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling's airports white paper also paves
the way for a full-length third runway instead of the shorter version
advanced during the consultation.

Councillors will be told tonight (January 21) that none of the new measures for expanding Heathrow were in the Government's original
consultation papers. This means local people were denied the chance to comment on them.

It has also emerged that without bringing more flights into Heathrow (by allowing parallel operations on the two runways and scrapping movement limits on night flights) the Government will fall well short of its own targets for increased capacity throughout the south east.

Even with new runways at Heathrow and Stansted and an extended runway at Luton the increased capacity created would still fall around 20 million passengers a year short of the 301 million target for 2030 in the white paper. That gap would be met by ending runway alternation.

The figures imply that a third new runway will be needed in the south east before 2030 - almost certainly at Gatwick.

Councillors will also be told that the white paper offers no new protection from noise even though a third runway by itself would bring a 40 per cent increase in air traffic movements. Instead ministers continue to rely on artificial noise contours which the council and other environmental groups have argued repeatedly bear no relation to the actual noise disturbance suffered.

The white paper also fails to calculate the true costs of aircraft noise and overstates the economic benefits of expansion at Heathrow. Council leader Edward Lister said the failure to consult previously on the key proposals now included in the white paper left the minister's plans open to challenge:

"This debate has been presented as being about whether or not Heathrow should have a new third runway. By appearing to put its introduction off to 2015 ministers must have hoped the public would be lulled into a false sense of security. We were never told that ending runway alternation and removing night flight movement limits were being considered as interim measures for boosting capacity.

"It is becoming clearer by the day that using the Government's own forecasts three new runways will be needed in the south east before 2030. This reopens the whole issue of whether a new airport in the Thames Estuary airport might not be a better way of meeting this demand
than the current policy of piecemeal expansion on so many different sites which can only blight the lives of so many people."

The council's full report analysing the white paper can be viewed on

January 23, 2004