Shaping 2018

The essence of successful campaigning is to shape the future.  There will be a number of opportunities for aviation campaigners to do that in 2018.

2018 will be the year when crucial decisions will be made and pivotal policy positions set in train.  Read about HACAN’s plans:

Read our 2017 Annual Report:

HACAN – lobbying on your behalf

In addition to our more visible campaign activities, HACAN is an increasingly influential voice on a number of bodies set up by Heathrow or the Government.  We sit on Heathrow’s Strategic Noise Forum and its Community Noise Forum.  We have a seat on the new Community Engagement Board which will hold Heathrow to account on the running of the airport (including key matters like noise and flight paths) as well as oversee Heathrow consultation process if it gets permission for a new runway.  We sit on ANEG, the Airspace and Noise Engagement Board recently set up by the Department for Transport:  Our chair is a member of the European Commission’s Noise Expert Group and HACAN is a member of UECNA, the Europe-wide body which represents community groups around the key European airports:

New:  Respite Report launched

Heathrow published its long-awaited respite report commissioned from Anderson Acoustics on 16th February.  It is the first of its kind to be done.  HACAN was part of the steering group.  Summary video: . Where to find the reports:

17th January Heathrow launches two key consultations

Heathrow Airport has launched two key consultations to run until the 28th March.  One sets out options for construction around a third runway in the more immediate area of the airport including a possible shorter runway, moving part of the M25, changes to the local road lay-out and compensation for the Heathrow villages.

The other sets out options for the principles which inform the design of the extensive flight path changes, driven by new technology, which will be brought in whether or not a third runway is built.

Read the official HACAN response to the airspace consultation:

Read the official HACAN response to the expansion consultation:

Read the response from HACAN East:

The design principles HACAN is pressing for:

 Safe, Fair and Equitable Flight Paths

The new flight paths need to be safe but also be based on the principles of fairness and equity.  This is not the case at present where some communities get a disproportionate number of flights.  Unless there are overriding principles guiding the creation of the new flight paths, it will simply end up pitting one community against another.

  • Multiple flight paths, rotated, to that each community gets guaranteed breaks from the noise each day*
  • No all-day flying over any community
  • No ‘noise ghettos’ (i.e. areas where flights are concentrated all-day long without any respite)
  • New areas to be avoided wherever possible but, where it is not possible, flights to be phased in
  • The number of areas which get both take-offs and landings to be kept to the absolute minimum
  • Hot spot areas to be prioritised for compensation and mitigation
  • At levels below at least 10,000 ft noise should be prioritized over climate change emissions.

* Some communities argue for phased dispersal rather than rotated flights paths.

Details of the consultations can be found here:   

For details of the 40 exhibitions:

Borough venues where you can see the documents:

Third runway consultation:

Airspace change consultation:

You can respond in a number of ways: online via the project website ; by letter to Freepost LHR EXPANSION CONSULTATION or by email to

Closing date for responses:  28th March 2018

HACAN will be engaging with the consultations, particularly the one on flight paths, while maintaining our opposition to a 3rd runway.  The plan for any new runway has still be be agreed by Parliament.  A vote is not expected until the summer.

We have put together two short briefing summarising the main points of the consultations and suggestions to help you respond.  The second slightly longer one is aimed at politicians but will be of use more widely:

A new runway at Heathrow would mean just over 700 extra flights each day.  A total of 760,000 planes would use the airport.  Currently there is an annual cap on flight numbers of 480,000.

West London will lose some of its alternation

If a 3rd runway is built almost certainly people in West London under the existing flight paths will lose part of the half day’s break from the noise they currently enjoy. Some of the extra 700 planes using the airport will be on the existing runway.

Can a three runway Heathrow, with 700 more planes a day, be quieter than the airport is today?  Check out the HACAN blog:

 Scroll down for more information on the 3rd runway.


25th October: Widespread actions to highlight 700 extra planes a day

Campaign groups from across London and the Home Counties joined a cross-party group of MPs and peers to highlight the impact that 700 extra planes a day would have if a 3rd runway was built.

  24th October: Government publishes its Airspace Policy

There is much to be welcomed in it and contains some measures – such as the establishment of an independent noise authority and improved noise metrics – that HACAN has been campaigning for for many, many years.  We’ll have more on it in due course but here is our summary of the key measures:


The Department for Transport has also published the report of Sir Jeremy Sullivan QC whom it appointed to oversee the consultation process:  

Not all trade unions back a 3rd runway

UNITE and the GMB unions back a 3rd runway at Heathrow and like to give the impression union backing for it is universal.  That is simply not the case.  Above, Tahir Latif from PCS Union explaining why his union opposes a 3rd runway, speaking at a public meeting organised by BASH in Hounslow on 26th October.

Here the transcript of his speech: 

CAA to carry out work on steeper departures

There has been a consistent call from residents for aircraft to take-off more steeply.  The Civil Aviation Authority is about to undertake a major study to see what can be done, including the wider implications of steeper departures:

Not just a West London problem – people relate their experiences on video of living with aircraft noise.

Click here to look at the videos:

When people get annoyed by noise

When the Government publishes it Airspace Policy in the autumn it is expected to recognise that people get annoyed by aircraft noise at lower levels than it previously thought.  Its draft strategy recognised that people can get annoyed by aircraft noise when it averages out over a 16 hour day at 54 decibels.  Previously government argued it was 57 decibels. Some people get annoyed at even lower levels.

The figures are based on a study which the Government commissioned from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA): Survey of Noise Attitudes 2014.

The chart above, taken from the study, compares the results of the Government sponsored ANIS Study with the new study. 9% of people are highly annoyed when the average is 54 decibels.  In geographical terms around Heathrow that goes as far as about Clapham to the east and about 16 miles to the west: about 65,000 people in total.  The lower average of 51% extends about as far as Peckham.

The full study

Night Flights – No Change

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced on 13th July that the night flight regime at Heathrow would remain substantially unchanged for the next five years: Hope you’re well… Not sure if you’re around or if you could pass this on to a colleague but wondered how significant this was, and your reaction?

HACAN has commissioned an independent report which suggested that – in the event of a third runway being built – an eight hour night flight regime could become the norm:

Vote on Third Runway This Year

Graying also announced that, while the Government was still committed to a third runway, there would now not be a vote in Parliament on it until the first half of 2018.  The delay is because the General Election put things back by several months:

End of Cranford Agreement Postponed

The Government abolished the Cranford Agreement in 2009.  This was the 50 year old understanding that planes did not take off from the northern runway over Cranford, at the Hounslow end of the runway.  It meant that, when an east wind blows, all planes must land over Windsor on the northern runway so that they can take off from the southern runway.  This has denied Windsor the half day’s break from the noise which West London enjoys.

Heathrow needed to do work on its taxiways to allow planes to take off from the northern runway.  It got permission to this at a public inquiry but now wants to do further work on the taxiways so they fit in with any third runway.  It is therefore planning to roll this further work into its more general detailed work on a third runway.  If things go according to plan, it will not get planning permission for this until 2020/2021 after which the Cranford Agreement could become operational.

Mayor of London Backing No Third Runway

On 13th May London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined the local Hammersmith & Fulham No Third Runway Group to emphasise his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.

Third Runway timetable

Autumn: The new Government will consider the responses to the consultation on the third runway which ended on 25th April and the views of the Transport Select Committee which will hold a hearing in to it in the Autumn.  Heathrow will also start consulting on flight paths – scroll down for more information.

April/May  2018: Expect a vote on the 3rd runway in Parliament.  If Parliament approves it, it becomes Government policy.

2018:  Heathrow will consult on its detailed plans for a 3rd runway, including flight paths

2019:  Heathrow puts its plans to a Planning Inquiry

2020/21:  Earliest Heathrow could get planning permission for a 3rd runway

2024/5:  3rd runway would open

Of course, all this might not happen!  Local authorities are expected to mount a legal challenge next year.  There are big problems around air pollution and the cost of the road and rail infrastructure to be ironed out.  And the opposition to it remains considerable.

See HACAN blog: Why a 3rd runway is not a done deal:

Heathrow announces timetable for flight path changes

Heathrow outlined its process for consultation on flight path changes to the Community Noise Forum on 24th May. 

Even if Heathrow stays as a two-runway airport Heathrow will be re-jigging its flight paths ‘starting from a blank piece of paper’.  This is because across the world Precision-Based Navigation (PBN) is being introduced.  It enables planes to be guided more precisely saving the airlines fuel, cutting CO2 emissions, allowing air traffic control to run a slicker operation with fewer staff and giving airports more resilience (critical at a busy airport like Heathrow).

In practice, PBN involves concentrated flight paths.  In America a lot of the airports simply use one long flight path for each runway, creating noise ghettos and generating a record number of complaints.  London City has done the same.  Heathrow is looking to introduce multiple flight paths wherever possible in order to give people relief – essential if local communities are also to get some benefits from the new system.

The Timetable

Heathrow, in consulting on its flight paths, has decided to assume a third runway will get the go-ahead.   But the risk it is taking is minimal because the early consultation will be on the design principles behind flight paths which will be applicable whether or not Heathrow becomes a three runway airport.

Early 2018: There will be a 12 week consultation on the design principles people want to see flight paths based on.  Do people want multi-flight paths etc?  This will form the first stage of Heathrow’s airspace changes but it double up as the first step in the Development Consent Order (DSO) Process.  As you know, the DCO is what Heathrow draws up if Parliament votes through the National Policy Statement.  It is not doing anything wrong in consulting before its gets permission as it is a voluntary consultation and, indeed, the planning legislation encourages this sort of consultation.  The consultation will include local events.

Summer/Autumn 2018: There will be a consultation on the design envelope for the new flight paths. (By this stage Heathrow are likely to know whether they are likely to be planning for a two or three runway airport).  The envelopes will show the broad swathes within which there will be flight paths.  They will not include at the exact alignment of the flight paths but those who will be outside the swathes will know they will not be under a flight path.

Middle of 2019: Heathrow expects to submit its Development Consent Order (covering all aspects of a third runway; not just flight paths) to a Planning Inquiry.

Middle of 2020: Heathrow expects to get a decision from the Planning Inquiry on whether it can proceed with a third runway.

Late 2020/early 2021: The detailed flight paths options will be consulted upon.

Where to find current and past flight paths

You can find maps of flight paths on Heathrow’s website:,-stats-and-reports/operational-data/annual-flight-maps

You can also track flights as they land and take-off:

And you can see what the flight pattern was like over your house during the past six years:

Recent Campaigning

BASH – Brentford, Isleworth & Hounslow –  stage packed public meetings

HACAN spoke at two excellent public meetings organised by BASH, the recently formed group based in Hounslow, set up to fight a 3rd runway. 

BASH can be contacted at:

Out and about at the Brentford Festival

On September 2nd MPs Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq joined local group BASH at their stall at the Brentford Festival.

Bash Runway 3, a  Brentford/Hounslow group opposing a 3rd runway, was launched at a packed Public Meeting in March.  Details of the group can be found at

Taking the protest to Maidenhead

In July campaigners took the protest against the 3rd runway to the Prime Minister’s constituency

Big concerns about flight paths, noise and new runway in Teddington

A packed public meeting in Teddington on Friday 28th April, organised by Teddington Action Group (TAG) and chaired by the local MP Tania Mathias, heard repeated calls for the planes over the area to fly higher and be less concentrated.  There were also real fears about the impact of a third runway.  TAG provided people with very practical steps they could take to make their views known about the third runway.

Overwhelming call for respite at Stockwell Meeting

A Public Meeting held in Stockwell on 25th April heard repeated calls for some respite from the noise.  Stockwell, 18 miles from Heathrow, gets overflown by Heathrow  and London City aircraft.   It is under the concentrated City flight paths when an east wind is blowing and gets Heathrow planes throughout the day, sometimes between 30 and 40 an hour, when there is a west wind.  The unanimous call of the meeting was for predicable periods of relief from the noise.

No 3rd Runway Coalition Launched

On March 21st a new coalition was launched to oppose a third runway at Heathrow.  The No 3rd Runway Coalition consists of 18 organisations and is backed by MPs, peers and local authorities:

For details of the key groups, including local groups you may want to join:

New Brentford/Hounslow Group Launched

Bash Runway 3, a new Brentford/Hounslow group opposing a 3rd runway, was launched at a packed Public Meeting in March.  Details of the group can be found at

Our Flickr page has great photos of pictures of recent campaigning  events – check it out to see the range of protests that have been taking place 

Third Runway Related Reports and Briefings

On 23rd February the influential Environmental Audit Committee released a report saying the Government has failed to convince it that it can deliver it promises on noise, air pollution and climate change re: a 3rd runway. Read more: 

HACAN has produced  a dramatic new briefing which shows the Government has significantly downgraded the economic benefits of a 3rd runway.  Read the impact that will have on the regions: (pdf)

HACAN has published three more new briefings:

What a 3rd runway will cost the taxpayer: (pdf)

Just how many new destinations will a 3rd runway serve? (pdf)

Will a 3rd runway ever be built or will we just waste another 10 years? (pdf)

Scroll to the foot of the page to find more arguments against a 3rd runway at Heathrow

Noise and Flight Paths News

Noise remains a huge problem for a lot of residents under the Heathrow flight paths. This short paper provides a brief overview of some of the key pieces of work which Heathrow Airport has done, often in conjunction with community and campaign groups, over the last few years to assess, manage and reduce the noise. It also looks forward to what is in the pipeline.  A big opportunity to tackle noise will come when future airspace changes are introduced. These will take place whether of not a third runway is built. But since these new flight paths are unlikely to be in place much before 2014, it is essential that Heathrow does as much as it can to cut noise over the next few years.  Read the paper:

Heathrow’s latest Blueprint for Noise Reduction contains welcome measures in the battle to cut noise:

Respite Report

The final results of the much anticipated respite report which Heathrow has commissioned from Anderson Acoustics will be available early Autumn.  The purpose of the report is to find out if people valued respite and, if so, what does meaningful respite look like.  The early headline findings are that there is strong support for respite; that, overwhelmingly, the type of respite people want, when given the choice, is a plane every couple of minutes followed by a complete break from the noise for a period of hours rather than planes spread across all flight paths all day long giving fewer aircraft at any one time but without any break. The research is the first of its type done anywhere in the world.

The importance of respite

Many people are in despair about the constant noise over their heads.  95% of the emails HACAN gets that contain a complaint are from areas which get no respite from the noise.  Read more here:

Respite could bring real relief to many communities. 

Read why HACAN backs respite:

And why ‘respite plus’ may be needed for people living in ‘hotspots:

Night Noise Research

The Civil Aviation Authority will soon be publishing research into the levels at which people start to get annoyed by planes at night.  It is similar to the work they did on daytime noise which led the Government to recognise that people can become disturbed at much lower levels than previously accepted.

Study into SteeperClimb Rates

Heathrow is continuing with its study looking at how possible it is to get planes to take off more steeply and the implications of that for local communities (the greater thrust required to take off more steeply might result in more noise over certain communities).  This work will be done over the next year or so.

Joint call for Independent Noise Authority

HACAN has joined with Heathrow Airport to call for an Independent Noise Authority to be set up.  The unlikely allies have produced a joint report with suggestions of how an Authority could work in advance of a Department of Transport consultation on the subject, expected in January.  The two groups have also sent a joint letter to the Transport Secretary.

Read the report: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/IANA-Joint-Paper-HACAN-and-Heathrow-Airport1.pdf 

Read the press release:

Check out our flight paths button for up-to-date developments:

Aircraft Noise and Mental Health

HACAN, in conjunction with the Aviation Environment Federation, staged a successful seminar on aircraft noise and mental health on 4th July in Parliament.  It was chaired by Tanya Mathis MP.  The speakers included Dirk Schreckenberg, one of the authors of the ground-breaking NORAH Study, and Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability at Heathrow Airport.

 Summary of presentations of seminar on aircraft noise and mental health (pdf)

Read latest blog on what could be done to ease the situation for people with mental issues living under the flight paths:

Here is the link to a powerful blog I put on the impact of concentrated flight paths on one man’s mental health .

More on the 3rd Runway

The Government gave the green light to a third runway on 25th October.

Here is the official statement:


The fact  Government gave the green light to a 3rd runway doesn’t mean it will ever be built. The opposition is huge: residents, activists, local authorities, politicians from all parties. The earliest it will get final planning permission is 2020. There will be a lot of turbulence before it takes off, if it ever does.

In the short term we can expect a legal challenge from key local authorities, plus Greenpeace.  Teddington Action Group has said it will mount a challenge in the courts.

In an unprecedented step, cabinet ministers who have been long-standing opponents of it – people like Justine Greening or Boris Johnson – can opt out of the decision.

What happens next:

In late January 2017 the Government will consult on

  • Its wider National Policy Statement on Airports.  In essence this is a consultation on its proposal for a 3rd runway.  It will ask for views on the need for a third runway as well as on its local impacts.  The consultation is expected to last 3/4 months.  During that time the Department for Transport will hold consultation events in a fair number of boroughs.
  • Its draft Airspace Strategy (but not individual flight paths).  This will be wider that airspace and will, in effect, be a consultation on aviation noise policy.

In late spring/early summer the National Policy Statement (NPS) will be examined by Parliament’s Transport Select Committee

This will lead to a vote in Parliament to approve the NPS during winter 2017/18.  Even that is not the end of the process.  Heathrow will then need to consult on and lay its detailed plans before a planning inquiry.  It does not expect final planning permission before 2020/1 and aims to built the runway by 204/5.

Theresa May has fiercely opposed Heathrow expansion in the past.  For details see:
Short video on why a 3rd runway could curtail growth a airports outside London and the South East. 

Why a 3rd runway is undeliverable 

7 easy-to-read briefing sheets spelling out the 7 reasons why a 3rd runway cannot be delivered

7 pages Briefing sheets

READ: 20 Things To Know About A 3rd Runway

Download our Briefings in PDF format: Third Runway timelineThird Runway at Heathrow FAQ

Help us by joining our cause and helping the campaign here.