Key questions answered at Heathrow debate

Published: Friday 28th November 14

Heathrow's Matt Gorman told a public meeting last night that Wandsworth’s flightpath communities would not continue to get a half day respite period if the airport is given permission to build a third runway.

Residents heard the case for the Heathrow third runway and Heathrow Hub expansion plans

The response came after one local Putney resident repeatedly asked for a straight answer to her question.

Gatwick and Heathrow are the only airports now being considered for expansion by the Government’s Airports Commission. A consultation is now underway to test the public’s views of these rival proposals and public meetings have been held in Putney to help inform local residents.

Mr Gorman also repeated Heathrow’s claim that fewer people in London will be affected by noise if Heathrow expands. This is despite new flightpaths being created and the number of flights increasing from 480,000 to 740,000 per year.

Local people challenged the credibility of this claim along with council leader Ravi Govindia, Putney MP Justine Greening and HACAN chairman John Stewart.

Mr Gorman said he could not rule out a fourth runway in the future and confirmed that the airport continues to finance the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign – but said the group is independent of the airport. 

Cllr Govindia said: “I want to thank Matt Gorman from Heathrow and Kevin Harman from Heathrow Hub for coming to Putney and putting their case across to local people. These debates have helped residents’ get to grips with this very complicated expansion consultation.

“In Wandsworth there are concerns with some of Heathrow’s assessments. In particular we don’t believe that they have the power to put their elaborate and untested noise respite plan into action. If steeper glide paths and arched arrival routes can fix the noise problem then why aren’t they being used right now with two runways? 

“The truth is that the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) controls the sky and their primary concern has to be safety. If they have any concerns with wind conditions or anything else they will ignore the respite arrangements and land planes along the safest and most direct routes. Heathrow should be up front about this.

“Today, with two runways the relatively simple respite arrangements are only adhered to around half of the time. If Heathrow expands to three runways and brings in a far more complex respite system we expect the air traffic controllers to overrule it far more frequently. 

“This respite system has to be fully tested and proven with two runways before it’s used to justify a third.”

Earlier this month a public meeting took place examining the case for Gatwick expansion

Find out more about the council’s aviation policies at


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Recent comments

It certainly looks like there would be considerably more noise, which would diminish the attractiveness of London as a place to live and visit. While Heathrow insists that it needs this extra runway to keep up with the competition, it is already larger than its supposed rivals. It is a question of where it chooses to send flights and Gatwick is sufficiently close to take up any slack. In the long term I would have thought that air flights might need to be decreased for reasons of climate change and that the present era of cheap flights would end. It seems unwise to invest so heavily in one system of transport.
Phillippa Egerton

28 November 2014

This whole issue underlines the problems of privatising transport. A couple of weeks ago, I went by train to Birmingham. Surely for north London Birmingham International might be a more sensible development. The whole argument has been so focussed on the South East, rather than the rest of the UK. It does also seem barmy to have the most densely populated part of the UK the one to be worst affected if the Heathrow expansion goes ahead.
Jane Eades

28 November 2014

As the campaigners for Heathrow send out biased "questionnaires" and then claim a majority of local supporters, and make absurd claims about "ending youth unemployment," and over-estimate job creation generally, why are we supposed to trust them on claims of noise reduction and pollution?
Brian St. Pierre

28 November 2014