Heathrow is promoting two consultations simultaneously, one in relation to Airport Expansion (new runway and terminal infrastructure); the other in respect of Airspace Principles (changes to airspace and flight paths to accommodate the new runway).
The consultation documents can be found at www.heathrowconsultation.com
The deadline for responses is 28 March 2018.
Status of consultations
Both consultations are, in EGAG’s opinion, premature. Parliament has yet to vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) that would be a precursor to Heathrow expansion. It will not consider the NPS until later this year – and crucially after the parliamentary Transport Select Committee (TSC) issues its report following detailed examination of the proposals. The TSC will then commence writing its report.
The timing of the consultations is regarded by EGAG to be part of a publicity initiative by Heathrow to give the impression that approval of a third runway is a formality. Whilst this is currently the Government’s preferred option, approval is not a foregone conclusion. The TSC has found many holes in the DfT’s evidence base for a third runway and Heathrow’s proposals (which now seem to differ from each other in a number of respects).
Consultation on Airport Expansion
This deals with the physical aspects of the third runway proposals. It is non- statutory and voluntary on the part of the airport and communities. It is recommended that if you oppose expansion of the airport that you base your response on this, making your opposition clear but otherwise not spending much time on it.
Consultation on Airspace Principles
This consultation could have more serious and far reaching implications for our community. Although Heathrow’s documentation states it applies to a third runway, actually it applies to airspace modernisation, which is something the Government has signed up to introducing across the UK – whether or not Heathrow is expanded. However Heathrow cannot expand without airspace modernisation as the South East is at capacity in terms of airspace.
People living in Englefield Green will have experienced the full horrors of PBN (performance based navigation – satnav technology) that was trialled in 2014. This met with massive protest – over 2,500 people signed the Englefield Green petition and EGAG grew out of this. Heathrow had to abandon the trials early. PBN involves extreme concentration of flights – making normal life for those living under flight paths impossible.
The consultation alludes to this ‘divide and rule’ approach which until recently has been official government policy (minimising the number of people ‘significantly affected’ using discredited average sound level bases of measurement). EGAG considers that PBN will lead to the creation of what has been described by the Civil Aviation Authority as ‘noise sewers’. As our area lies under multiple flight paths, especially given new technology to concentrate to a great extent and the possibility of 54% more flights with a third runway, this represents a massive threat to our quality of life and community.
As the Airspace Principles consultation has legal status under the DfT’s new airspace change processes, EGAG considers it is very important that the public respond to this consultation.
In formulating responses to the consultation it is suggested your comments could include;
- No to extreme concentration
- Increase heights of departures to reduce noise on the ground for departure and arrivals
- There should be a ‘fair and equitable distribution’ of flights over our heads.
- Existing flight paths should not be intensified (the Government may see this as an easy option). The aviation industry should be placed under an obligation to devise an action plan to comply with World Health Organisation noise standards.
- Focussing flight paths over major open spaces is also unacceptable. Places like Richmond, Bushy, Windsor Great and Home Parks, as well as Kew Gardens are key recreational resources for local residents, as well as being assets of national importance. As well as destroying their amenity, the communities overflown before the parks are reached will be decimated by aviation noise.
- A reduction in the night period for those under departures to 11.00 pm to 5.30 am, as proposed with Heathrow expansion is totally unacceptable.
- There should be much more stringent controls over late evening and early morning flights – both in terms of numbers and the loudness of the planes that are permissible.
You may have other points you would like to raise in your responses.
EGAG proposes to issue further guidance on its website as the consultation progresses.
You can email us or sign up to our mailing list via our website to ensure that you receive further updates. https://www.englefieldgreenactiongroup.com/contact/