Complaints rise as flight trail continues
Published: Friday 23rd December 11
Central London is suffering a major increase in aircraft noise as Heathrow operator BAA conducts a four month flight pattern trial.
Wandsworth Council has received more than 100 reports of increased aircraft noise from local residents since the 'operational freedom' tests began on November 2.
During the trial period BAA is permitted to land more planes over central London during established half-day 'respite periods' when residents would usually get an eight hour break from aircraft noise.
Official trial data now shows that a total of 640 flights have landed during these quiet times as air traffic controllers make use of the relaxed regulations.
Between November 23 and December 14, an average of 23 flights per day landed in breach of the normal rules.
The aim of the trial is to explore ways of making the airport run more efficiently and to cut down on flight delays. It is being monitored by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: "BAA said they would only land planes during quiet periods if arriving flights faced delays of ten minutes or more. In practice that has meant planes landing out of sequence almost every day. On the worst occasion a total of 45 flights came in over central London when our residents would normally expect a complete break.
"We are closely monitoring all the data produced by BAA so that we can get a clear picture of how these flexibilities are being used and whether their are better ways of managing the demand for runway space at the airport."
Mark Curtis, who lives in Putney, has reported a rise in flight noise since the trial began.
He said: "The increase in aircraft noise has been extremely noticeable and if continued would seriously impact the quality of life for south west London residents."
Charlotte Triggs from Battersea has also reported a marked increase. She said: "I have lived in Battersea for 12 years and have never experienced such low-flying, constant, noisy aeroplanes. We get no respite at all now the BAA is running this trial."
To report increased aircraft noise visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/heathrowsurvey
Alternatively you can email your report to email@example.com or call the council's aircraft noise hotline on 020 8871 5377
Please ensure your message includes the time of the nuisance flight and your location when the flight passed overhead.
Notes to editors
Under the established 'runway alternation' system Heathrow is only permitted to use one runway for take offs and one for landing. Their use is switched everyday at 3pm to give residents under the flightpath a regular break from overhead flights.
During the trial BAA is allowed to use both runways at the same time for arrivals during busy periods when flights are delayed. This means more flights are coming in to land during the current half-day respite periods.
The testing periods were approved by the South East Airports Taskforce Group which was set up by the Government to explore ways of making airports 'better, not bigger'.
There will be no increase in the overall number of movements at the airport.
The trials will be undertaken by BAA under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Copies of the Department for Transport's report on the operational freedoms trial are available at www.dft.gov.uk
Wandsworth is a founding member of the 2M Group of councils which overturned the previous Government's plans for a third runway at Heathrow in the High Court