Help stop major aircraft noise increase over Wandsworth

Published: Thursday 15th January 15

Council leader Ravi Govindia is urging residents to help stop a series of new Heathrow flight paths being created over Wandsworth and other parts of London.

The UK Airports Commission’s public consultation on plans to vastly expand the airport and increase the number of planes flying over the borough will close on February 3.  

The proposals include creating new Heathrow arrival routes which would cut across Wandsworth and expose more local communities to the stress and misery of aircraft noise.

There are two different plans for expanding Heathrow included in the consultation – both of which involve increasing the number of annual flights by 200,000.

The consultation also asks for views on an alternative plan to expand Gatwick. This rival proposal would not create any extra flights over densely populated areas like Wandsworth but would help to create new jobs and homes in Battersea which has a 25 minute rail link to the airport from Clapham Junction.

After next year’s general election the Airports Commission will recommend expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick to the new Government.

Cllr Govindia said: “Responding to this consultation could save our local community from these very serious threats. The quiet enjoyment of our homes, parks and gardens is hanging in the balance and I appeal to everyone who lives Wandsworth to take the time to register their views before it is too late.

“If Heathrow is selected there will be a vast increase in the number of planes flying low over Wandsworth every day. There are proposals to create new flightpaths which would cut across parts of our borough which have never been affected before. Places like Wandsworth Common, Northcote Road, Tooting Common and Southfields could be directly below the path of incoming jets.

“Those already under the flightpaths in Battersea, Wandsworth Town, Putney and Roehampton also face an increase in overhead planes and today’s limited noise respite protection could be diminished.

“If Gatwick is selected our borough will not face any additional aircraft noise but it will see new investment in the rail network and a major boost for Clapham Junction’s economy. There is cross-party support for Gatwick expansion on the council and I hope local residents back this project in their responses.”

Wandsworth Council is a member of the cross-party 2M Group of councils which work together to oppose changes at Heathrow which would have negative impacts on their communities. The 2M Group is preparing a technical response to the consultation which will be submitted before the deadline on Feb3 and published on the council’s website.

How to respond

A summary of the council’s views on the consultation is included below which residents can consider in forming their own response. You can also read the full report on the consultation on the council’s website.

Email your response to or send your views by post to:

Airports Commission Consultation
PO Box 1492
GU22 2QR



We oppose expansion at Heathrow. The Commission's evidence confirms what was already known - expansion here would do extraordinary, unacceptable levels of damage to the quality of life experienced in many part of London including Wandsworth. These environmental costs far outweigh the potential economic benefits.

Heathrow’s location in the most densely populated part of the country means that the full range of negative impacts are maximised. The highest possible number of homes, schools, parks and gardens would be subjected to noise and air pollution by adding capacity in this location.

The Commission's documents show that an expanded Heathrow would expose more people to noise than all the other hub airports in Europe combined. This is not a viable proposal to pursue and politically impossible to deliver.

Night flights

Night flights are by far the most damaging aspect of Heathrow operations.  Regardless of expansion night flights should be banned at Heathrow and the Commission should recommend this is done immediately.


Heathrow’s claim that the airport can fly 200,000 extra plans a year over surrounding communities and reduce its noise impacts are simply not credible. More planes mean more noise and any recommendation or decisions on expansion should reflect this clear and simple fact.

The UK Government’s policy of predicting noise impacts on the basis of a social survey carried out more than 30 years ago is unacceptable and the Commission should challenge this approach. The public has no faith in computer generated ‘noise contours’ and will not accept decisions based on them. The Commission should challenge Government policy on noise.

Heathrow’s claims that quieter aircraft and steeper landing approaches will reduce noise significantly do not stand up to scrutiny. The CAA says that “despite incentives….there has been no evidence that airlines have changed their normal fleet replacement cycles” and “it is clear that benefits of [steeper] approaches are relatively small”. The improvements in noise will be marginal and any recommendation or decisions on expansion should reflect this.

Heathrow is proposing a new noise ‘respite’ system which involves new multiple curved arrival routes instead of the two relatively straight, single streams of aircraft used today. Neither Heathrow nor the Commission has the power to deliver this untested system. The Commission should note that the relatively simple respite arrangements operated today only work around half of the time as they are overruled for safety reasons. This new respite proposal should only be taken into account until after it has been tested and proven with a 2 runway airport.

Compensation & Mitigation

Current day noise and air quality impacts at Heathrow are not acceptable, and there is a need to mitigate and compensate both of these adequately before future expansion can be considered.

Mitigation must include relief to the areas suffering from early morning flights, all educational establishments, compensation from loss of predictable respite, compensation for loss of enjoyment of amenity including gardens. This should apply to homes and property in Wandsworth under the existing flightpaths. With any expansion options this level of mitigation must be broadened to include those newly exposed to overflights.

In relation to property compensation this must be set at a level to allow communities to buy like for like properties. There must be funding given to the surrounding local and, where relevant, regional authorities for the provision of lost facilities and for the provision of new employee facilities. All of these costs must be added to the Heathrow expansion cost estimates before a recommendation is made.


Neither Heathrow expansion proposals are deliverable. The reaction to the new departure routes over Teddington which were trialled before Christmas was extraordinary. Heathrow’s third runway proposal involves creating dozens of new routes like this over London and the political and community backlash will be impossible to overcome.

It is very disappointing that indicative flightpaths for a three runway Heathrow have not been published as part of this consultation. People need to know how they could be affected to provide an informed response.

The Heathrow Hub option would vastly increase the number of flights along existing flightpaths and directly over communities who are already extremely sensitive to noise and very well organised in their opposition to expansion. These communities include millions of people and they have proved time and time again that they can defeat any plans which add to their noise burden.


The Commission’s investigation shows expanding Heathrow would cost the taxpayer billions but the full amount has not been identified.  Major projects like road widening / tunnelling for the M25, the western rail link connection and southern rail access are not costed. The total price tag has to be calculated before a credible recommendation can be made.


The Commission’s investigation points to Gatwick expansion as the best option for increasing aviation capacity.

This project can be delivered with a fraction of the noise and air quality impact of Heathrow. The Commission’s own data shows that 18,200 people will be newly affected by noise with a second runway, compared with more than 320,000 at Heathrow.

The cost of expansion is much lower than Heathrow with no taxpayer subsidy required.

Gatwick expansion can be delivered sooner than it can at Heathrow and with less risk.

Gatwick would also have the potential to drive growth and job creation across South London including at Clapham Junction thanks to its direct 25 minute rail connection.

Allowing Gatwick to expand would create greater competition in the airports sector which is in the interests of our residents and London as a whole.

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Recent comments

Tony, bless, I fear for your grip on reality. Do you take your medication before or after Countdown? Perhaps you need to get out a bit more.
Colin Walsh

10 February 2015

I think planes flying overhead should be restricted to: Monday to Friday – 8am to 6pm Saturday – 8am to 1pm Sunday and Public Holidays – no flying. These are the same restrictions applied to most planning approvals for construction projects.

10 February 2015

The article says that "there are proposals to create new flightpaths which would cut across parts of our borough which have never been affected before. Places like Wandsworth Common, Northcote Road etc". I can assure you that I already see planes flying across these areas.

10 February 2015

Hey B Jordan, calm down dear, you need to watch the thinly veiled racist undertones in your comments. As has been mentioned by a couple of other posts on this site this is not real noise like we had to endure 15+ years ago. Couldn't help but laugh when I saw the article about the increase in complaints being computer generated and was rumbled when they forgot to put the clocks back in autumn. Probably sponsored by the Dear Leader Govindia himself. I guess there won't be many takers for the numerous developments currently underway in the Battersea/Nine Elms area once they find out about those pesky planes flying into Heathrow. Wandsworth - number one for NIMBYS - should be the council strapline.
Brad Jenkins

2 February 2015

I strongly oppose to Heathrow expansion. Noise pollution is already unbearable in Clapham & Battersea areas which are close to London centre. Leaving here has become a nightmare - literally - being woken up at 4.30 am in the morning and suffering large part of the day with one play every two minutes. How many in this case currently? Around a million? People not yet affected but who will be by this expansion (probably including Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham?) should go to Battersea Park when the plane fly above and realise their future misery. Also what about the air pollution with all these planes flying above London? Unfortunately facing the plain common sense, there is the extremely powerful corruptive power of money...
S. Hammer

1 February 2015

To Peter Carr. Calling a person hysterical when they are giving an opinion shared by 99% of the residents on this sight is insulting. Property is continuing to be sold in S.W London because of migration into this country, and the lack of space for the amount of people arriving, and will continue to be sold to foreign investors. In 'The Times' January 31, Mr Al-Baker from Qatar the new shareholder in British Airways has advocated 24 hour operations at Heathrow and that people under the flight path should stop fussing over the noise! Unlike people in his country we in the U.K have human rights and I sincerely hope this runway is not approved
B. Jordan

1 February 2015

I am totally against having a third runway at Heathrow most mornings planes can be heard as early as 4.30am and continue every 50 to 60 seconds all through the day. If we are lucky we get a few hours respite from the noise , This has increaed since 9/11 This noise is unacceptable and to have a third runway will just increase the noise .
Gill Habershon

30 January 2015

I look forward to the mornings when the east wind blows and I am not woken at 4.30 by the first flight overhead. The number of planes arriving from 6am is unacceptable. I suggest those who support the proposed Heathrow expansion spend a few nights under the flightpath. I have lived and worked near Clapham Junction for many years and never hear the trains, but I cannot have a telephone conversation in my garden or house (with the windows open) when the planes are overhead. Secondly, there has been little information about the increased congestion on the M25 and routes into central London, which will surely put off this predicted huge influx visitors (500 extra flights a day) and encourage more of them to use Gatwick instead.
Francesca Fearon

30 January 2015

Noise and air pollution in Putney is now dangerously close to basic safeguards. Heathrow expansion proposals do not appear to safeguard any respite or even basic noise and pollution levels for those of us for whom these levels are already beyond an acceptable level. Please protect those of us who already suffer noise and air pollution, and protect our children from further disturbance and illness. What government would seek to protect those who are not currently affected by noise and pollution, rather than those who are? If we should discover that there is a greater incidence of autism, asthma, regular sleep disturbance in this area, would we be entitled to a higher court judgment in our quest for basic quality of life?

30 January 2015

I applaud this stance. One fact overlooked is the short time before we run out of oil: 53 years according to the BP website. This means a maximum working life of 45 years for new runways, too short to generate a satisfactory commercial return for investors, to pay for the removal of the runways and to return land to other uses in the 2060s. So guess who will underwrite the construction costs!
Christopher Tew

28 January 2015

The best solution would surely be to expand both Heathrow and Gatwick. It would be a win for both areas. Those who don't want to stay can sell up and cash in on their property which seems to be wholly unaffected by aircraft noise judging by the prices in Putney & Richmond estate agent windows. There would be no shortage of people looking to move into these desirable areas of London.
Peter Goddard

28 January 2015

I really do object in the strongest terms to any expansion of Heathrow, increase in flights over Putney or increase in noise or air pollution that is an inevitable consequence of any expansion in Heathrow. Gatwick should and must be the preferred options with greater use of regional airports for international flights.
Chris Poll

24 January 2015

I am in favour of expanding Gatwick. Noise level due to Heathrow is already unbearable and they want to expand it!!!! People who support the idea should ask themselves one question- who and how much would REALLY benefit from expanding the Heathrow airport ? Its not us "little people", that's for sure!!!!

24 January 2015

I strongly oppose the expansion at Heathrow Airport as i like my peace and quiet all you have to do is look at Richmond where the planes are approaching Heathrow Airport every two minutes I would hate this to happen to Wandsworth. I moved into this Borough fours ago and have noticed a considerable in aircraft traffic since then I strongly oppose Heathrow's expansion.
Tommy Ryan

23 January 2015

I am appalled at the prospect of even more planes coming over Wandsworth if capacity at Heathrow is increased. I find the level of noise already unacceptable, especially in the early mornings. The west of London simply has no space for even more capacity, as Heathrow's own propaganda in favour a lengthened runway demonstrates, let alone making space for an extra one. I was in favour of the estuary solution (as I favoured the Mappin Sands option in the 1970's) but failing that, Gatwick is the obvious solution, with possible expansion of Luton and Stansted as well. Population density is far lower in these areas, and access to Victoria or North London and City termini is a useful alternative to West London and Paddington.
David Bickel

23 January 2015

B Jordan, perhaps this area doesn't suit you. I've never heard such hysterical nonsense as 'planes can be frightening to see one after the other'. You need to get a grip and develop a backbone. Where were you when concorde, tridents & bac1-11s used to fly over because that was real noise that has thankfully gone. The Dear Leader should hang his head in shame and stop wasting tax payer money delaying future economic growth & prosperity. No one seems to mention that property prices have failed to be affected by the planes overhead so it can't be that bad in SW London!
Peter Carr

22 January 2015

To the people on this site that are all for Heathrow expansion, and are not bothered by aircraft noise, I invite you to visit my area of Battersea. We are constantly overflown morning, noon, and night with no respite unless the wind changes. The planes are huge and very low and can be frightening to see one after another. Only a terrible tragedy over central London will make people wake up to the nightmare we are facing if it is approved. Thank you to the resident that pointed out that we already have 6 airports for this city. I think Heathrow should be closed full stop. NO PLANES OVER LONDON!
B. Jordan

21 January 2015

I oppose expansion at Heathrow. The current noice of aircraft is already unacceptable. Distrubing my sleep and the enjoyment of my garden. No offer of help towards soundproffing my home.
Yve Montaut

21 January 2015

The flight paths and frequency of planes overhead is very very disturbing to a good nights sleep which is extremely bad for everyone's health and contributes I am sure to problems and cost for the NHS and other bodies looking after our health. Living in SW London is a lovely place to be and would be much much better without the noise perpetually overhead this applies even more so in the summer.
Penny Montagnon

20 January 2015

I very much oppose the expansion of Heathrow airport.
Ursula Birt

20 January 2015

i'm the only person i know who actually did consult aircraft route maps before buying in balham, so i will not welcome a change of routes and will protest accordingly when the time comes..have you been to kew recently.. what a nice day out ruined by planes... The expansion of 1950's out of town airfields of GTW and LHR is backed by big business and lobby groups and will be hard to fight. the only 21st century solution is to keep the noise away from as many as possible, the only solution is to have the approach over sea which means estuary or kent locations..
andy godwin

19 January 2015

I resent the council assuming they know what my opinions are and then spending the tax payers money on this campaign. Have they even consulted the residents? No. I have lived in Battersea all my life (52 years) and the aircraft noise was much worse in the 70's and 80's when we had much noisier jets compared to today's quieter planes. I still remember the noise concorde made when it came in to land, similarly the old Tridents as well! Like it or not, London needs a bigger Heathrow if we are not to lose business to other major European cities.
Andy Franks

19 January 2015

Some days are already ruined by planes overhead, in Putney, and you are proposing to increase the number greatly. Along with this you propose more night flights than we already suffer (in the name of safety). There seems to be no consideration of another type of safety: people's mental health and the quality of life of millions, but a relentless push for "progress". i.e. commercial profit.
Lalage Percival

18 January 2015

It's concerning that Wandsworth haven't properly consulted their residents before sitting in the anti-expansion corner. 2 runways at Heathrow please and 1 extra at Gatwick so we can put this whole ridiculous indecision to bed for more than a generation. Campaigners for "Boris Island" need to visit the Isle of Grain to see how bonkers the Mayor's proposal is. No change there then. Most of the "anti" camp have had a choice not to live under a flight path but have perversely chosen to do so. It doesn't seem to have affected house prices either. If you don't like it, move away! Heathrow has been around longer than a large number of residents have even been alive!
Paul Wallington

17 January 2015

We are disturbed every morning by planes arriving between 4.30-6.00 long before they should. Any further expansion at Heathrow would I believe incur yet more disturbance in the early hours despite Heathrow's denials.
Peter Day

17 January 2015

I am totally opposed to a third runway at Heathrow. As I already live under the flight path with flights going over my property every 45-50 seconds, the increased traffic will become unbearable. A further runway in Gatwick on the other hand would be a much more suitable option, its cheaper to achieve, can be done more quickly, does not affect as many people and would be an investment that is sustainable. It is also more accessible than Heathrow from Wandsworth.
Mrs Evelyn Ferris

17 January 2015

Putting the noise aspect aside for a second, which of course is already too much, just how many planes can verge on one spot at any one time before becoming dangerous? At times I can already count a plane a minute flying overhead! I've lived in Wandsworth since the 70’s and can’t ever recall such noise from planes during the night, now however it’s constrain and ever increasing, morning, noon and night. I think it’s extremely suspect that the indicative flightpaths have not been published as part of this consultation, and feel the BAA should be made to. I say NO Heathrow expansion and new flight paths. Yes to Gatwick as it affects less, cost less with no taxpayer subsidy required, and still easy to get to. Common sense really.
NO to Heathrow expansion.

17 January 2015

I am a battersea resident wholeheartedly in favour of Heathrow expansion. At no point has Wandsworth council actively engaged at the door step level to seek accurate and representative views on this matter. This feels very much like lazy politics. What tangible and measurable evidence does Wandsworth council have that an "anti Heathrow expansion" standpoint is aligned to the views and opinions of Wandsworth residents?
Sean Egan

17 January 2015

As usual a totally biased view with no opportunity for residents to express support for the proposal. Where do these bureaucrats think the jobs and prosperity comes from - horses and carts? We need air links and Heathrow needs to expand - period.
Richard Ambler

16 January 2015

PLEASE no more planes over SW London. I travel extensively and we certainly need more capacity but I am happy to get to GTW if necessary - our wonderful outside commons and parks are blighted by the noise in the summer and the thought of no respite period is truly awful. I wish we had more vision and could drive Boris Island - creating a state of the art facility, lots of jobs in the East and far less noise pollution over land, links with Eurostar, cross rail etc. Has anyone thought about the traffic on the will backing up past Hammersmith!

16 January 2015

I am in complete agreement with the councils position, this proposal should be fought with all available resources
Neil Balchin

16 January 2015

I have no problem with the expansion of Heathrow. I live under the flight path at present, and if there is more diversification of the flightpaths, spreading the load more widely throughout the borough and thus giving us who are already on the flight some "time off" then all the better. Heathrow is more important than just local issues for the good of the country. We cannot stop the fact that London is the capital and Heathrow is and should remain the hub. Gatwick should also expand. Have you seen the airport in Pudong Shanghai?? We cannot hold back the tide unless we want to lose out ........
Sue Austin

16 January 2015

I support The Commission’s investigation points to Gatwick expansion as the best option for increasing aviation capacity. Heathrow should not be allowed to expand.
Richard Raines

16 January 2015

However hard anyone tried, they could not find a greater concentration of housing, schools, hospitals and essential commercial buildings anywhere in the UK, where there would be a greater destruction of everyday life, than in south London and Wandsworth if Heathrow was to be expanded. This must not be allowed to happen!
Paul Hetherington

16 January 2015

london city airport,London southend, Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick and Heathrow how many Capital in the world or even big cities have 6 airports ...none and despite the fact that London has 6 we still need to add another runway at Heathrow destroying land, villages, adding more noise etc..It is just about pure greed from BAA which was force to sell Gatwick and Stanstead, so to make up their losses they just want to make Heathrow even bigger when the 5 other airport could maybe spread their wing do the same without so much disturbance.

16 January 2015

I hope that the expansion of Heathrow will take place, ensuring that the needs of the city of London, as one of the great financial centres of the world, are met. As a resident of Putney for more than a quarter of a century, I easily adjust to aircraft noise. It will be far more expensive to build a new airport, and expanding Gatwick probably needs to take place anyway. Quick access to London via Heathrow will always be travellers preferential choice. Constant delay in decision making, has pushed up the price of change hugely. I wonder if my comments are noted or just left out.
john matthewman

16 January 2015

This proposal is insane. I have lived with the misery of aircraft noise since September 2012 when they streamlined the flight path without consultation, and Heathrow denied any changes saying it was the wind direction. My area of Battersea is under siege and it has caused a lot of distress not being able to sleep, being woken at 4.30am and then having to work full time. Although I have lived in the area for over 20 years I believe sadly that it will be impossible for me to live in the area if this is approved

16 January 2015

We think it very strange that the three possible flightpaths have not been published. Transparency is essential, particularly given this controversial issue. We are against expansion at Heathrow and even more against the noise and stress this will cause to local residents in affected London Boroughs.
j bright

16 January 2015

UK is losing out due to delays in Heathrow expansion and we are not helping! Dubai International Airport has just overtaken Heathrow for busiest airport. Build additional runways at Heathrow and make the flight path higher. Also get Heathrow to pay for Noise proofing the flats/homes in the path. Everybody wins.

16 January 2015

I entirely agrre with the comments made by the chairman of Wandsworth Council. Already the noise of aircraft is insufferable especilly at 4.30 in the morning. There are far too many flights over London now. If Expansion is necessary Gatelwick would be the obvious choice affecting far fewer people
jacqueline Taber

16 January 2015

Totally agree with Council leader Govindia about urgent need to cease existing night flights into Heathrow which are highly disturbing. Of course it is ridiculous to claim expanding Heathrow will not lead to a major increase in noise. Gatwick is a better option but the only real long term solution is Boris Island airport and to close Heathrow and develop the site for new homes that are also desperately needed in London. Lets show some vision and think big for a change in this country.
Trevor Steel

16 January 2015

Dear Ravi, have you actually thought that a number of your residents rely on heathrow for their jobs ? There are also thousands of your residents that fly there for business and for our holidays. Its vital for the UK economy and remember that council tax payers are footing this anti heathrow stance. Perhaps you should be putting a balanced view across ??

16 January 2015

A good article. The Council should review the scientific literature for papers on the effects of noise on those living close to airports. For example, I recall a paper summarised in New Scientist a few years ago which said that the school performance of children living around Frankfurt airport was significantly affected by night or early morning flights. Such research would support the move to ban/restrict night flights, which I fully support. I get woken up every morning with the start of flights at around 4:30am.
Ralph Cox

16 January 2015

There is no proven economic case for expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick
N Bradshaw

16 January 2015

I think it's vitally important that a very simple & easy form of collecting signatures for all London residents that oppose Heathrow's expansion plans, should be put into place immediately! In fact it should have been put in place months ago, when this expansion possibility was first proposed.
Alan James

15 January 2015