BAA must explain flight trials

Published: Thursday 27th October 11

BAA has agreed to deliver information leaflets to households in the north of Wandsworth explaining their plans for a four month flight pattern trial at Heathrow.

The changes will see aircraft landing over Wandsworth during the quiet period of the day when residents normally get relief from aircraft noise.

The letter drop will be extended across Battersea, Wandsworth Town and Putney after the council told the airport operator more needed to be done to inform residents living under the flightpath.

The council has also arranged a public meeting where residents and councillors can question BAA and Heathrow Airport representatives about the 'operational freedoms' trail and its likely impact on local communities. It takes place at 7.30pm, Wednesday 23 November, at the Brewer Building , Putney High Street.

The first trial will run from November 1 to February 29, with a second to follow next summer from July 1 to September 30.

During these periods residents in south and west London will notice changes in arrival and departure patterns at Heathrow.

BAA says the aim of the experiment is to explore ways of running the airport more effectively and to reduce flight delays.

Under current rules 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 aircraft noise.

During the trial BAA will be able to use both runways at the same time for arrivals during busy periods when flights are delayed. This could mean a limited number of flights being allowed to land or take off during the current half-day respite periods. BAA will have discretion over when it can initiate these special measures.

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.

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said:

"We are still waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority and BAA to explain the rules of the game. With the trials starting on Monday there has been no meaningful engagement with the local authorities.

"Local communities living under the flightpath value the quiet period of the day when they get a break form the planes overhead. These changes will interrupt that peace - that's why it is so important the trials are conducted with complete openness and transparency."

The trials will be undertaken by BAA under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.

For more information or to complain about aircraft noise visit www.heathrowairport.com/noise or call 0800 344844 or email noise_complaints@baa.com

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.

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