Third runway could mean 38 arrivals at Heathrow before 5am

Published: Friday 22nd June 18

Londoners and people living to the west of the airport could be forced to suffer noise from up to 38 arrivals at Heathrow before 5am if a third runway goes ahead according to previously unpublished Department for Transport figures.

There would also be noise from 25 potential departures in the same period.

Currently people in south and west London suffer noise from around 15 or 16 flights every morning before 6am when the airport is operating on westerlies. Aircraft land in this direction for around two-thirds of the year.

Communities to the west of the airport suffer in the same way when the airport is on easterly operations.

The DfT figures reveal that as many as 35 flights could arrive before 5am along with 25 take-offs

But data compiled for the DfT shows that if a three-runway airport is to maximise its capacity it would need to start operating with 38 aircraft an hour landing from 4am.

There would be a further 38 arrivals between 5am and 6am.

The DfT is using the analysis of runway capacity to support its view that a three-runway Heathrow operated by the current airport owners could operate more flights than the rival Heathrow Hub scheme.

But now council leaders fear that their residents will pay the price for the expansion with more early morning noise:

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said:  “The Davies Commission said a night flight ban should be a condition for approval of a third runway.

“But these figures show that instead of a ban Londoners could face a five-fold increase in early morning arrivals before 6am.

‘Once again our residents’ needs are being ignored. It simply makes no sense to add more flights and more noise at a time of day when people have a right to be enjoying their sleep.”

The leader of Richmond Council Gareth Roberts: “People in south and west London will have their sleep ruined if Heathrow gets its third runway. The airport will need to squeeze in as many flights as it can in the early morning period if it is to achieve full capacity over the whole day.

“The DfT and Heathrow will say that with three runways the noise can be shared around – but it hardly counts as relief if you know you are going to be woken up one day in three.

“Sharing the noise around also means that more people will experience early morning noise for the first time. But right now because we have no information on flightpaths no one can say with certainly which communities will be affected.

Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot said: “The ill-health consequences of a third runway are frightening. If it’s not worsening air quality from increased road traffic, it’s disruption to sleep patterns from early morning noise.

“The Government has failed to assess the true health impacts from expansion and it has failed even to identify which communities will be affected.”

And Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead insisted: “The runway is simply unbuildable. We would urge MPs on all sides to put people’s health first and reject the Government’s plans next week when they get the chance to vote on the National Policy Statement.

“The potential increase in night flights is frightening. Many people just won’t know if and how they could be affected. It is another example of how the health impacts of a third runway are not being properly assessed.”

The local authority group opposed to Heathrow expansion includes the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Council, with others set to join.

If following the MPs’ vote on Monday, the Government moves to formally designate the National Planning Statement supporting the third runway project, these local councils will have six weeks to challenge the decision by way of a judicial review.

The report on airport capacity can be viewed here:

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Recent comments

Heathrow promises are never kept. Just eroded year after year. We were told there would be 6h30 of respite. Now it seems that the airport will seek exemptions from this just like they have with TEAM for de-alternation. There is no group for which 6h30 of sleep is acceptable. Are we expected to put out children to be at 2300 and wake them at 0530? This expansion must be stopped.

25 June 2018

We are trying to clear the air pollution not add to it with more planes and noise ! Heathrow has enough air traffic already !
anne louise saxton

25 June 2018

Are you quite sure of your facts? What is your source. It could be fewer flights before 6.00 am and much better than currently when we get many flights from 4.00am. You should give us both sides of the argument
Mike Griffith

23 June 2018

Keep up the fight. We absolutely c annot have constant noise all day and interrupted sleep at night. We will all have breakdowns. It is a breach of our human right NOT to be subjected to constant loud noise.
Carol Tibbs

22 June 2018