You’ll be relieved to hear that I don’t intend to publish a regular weekly blog on what I have been doing!
But it struck me that my activities this week are a perfect illustration of how the planes from Heathrow and City aircraft are impacting on a much wider area than many people think.
It is 42 miles from Greenwich to Reading. It is also 42 miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow.
The equivalent of the entire area from Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland to Glasgow on the west coast is impacted by aircraft from Heathrow and/or London City. And that is probably an underestimate.
My week illustrated it.
Monday was due to start at 7.20am with an interview on Radio Berkshire to talk about Heathrow’s Adobe huts in school playgrounds. Except news of David Bowie’s death had just come in….so it took preference.
The rest of the day was office-based (Stockwell, 17 miles from Heathrow, around 28 planes an hour) dealing with emails, correspondence, preparing HACAN East evidence for the forthcoming Public Inquiry on London City’s expansion plans and putting the finishing touches to a conference on flight paths we are helping to organise at the end of the month.
In the evening to Harmondsworth and the monthly meeting of SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion), which represents the people in the Heathrow Villages. Meetings where passions can run high. Understandably. There are the people who will lose their homes and community if a 3rd runway goes ahead. Not home until nearly midnight.
Tuesday, a big day. Starts with Radio Berkshire at 7.20am (even David Bowie can only die once!). A morning transport meeting at London Bridge before moving on to the House of Commons for the launch of the report of Noise and Health we commissioned from the Aviation Environment Committee at 2pm. Very pleased with the launch. 60 people there including a number of MPs and peers, key decision-makers in Government and the aviation industry, leading acousticians and as well as campaigners. Superbly chaired by Tania Mathias MP.
The evening to Stratford to chair the management committee meeting of HACAN East. Every person who tries to trivialize the impact airports can have on communities should have been at this meeting. There were two key items on the agenda: the forthcoming public inquiry into City Airport’s expansion plans and the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to allow the airport to concentrate its flight paths. The latter in particular could change people’s lives forever including people sitting round the table. These were deeply serious issues we were dealing with.
Wednesday morning was taken up with following up on Tuesday’s activities: the media coverage of the launch; setting up meetings with MPs and peers who attended the launch; and discussions with lawyers on possible challenges to the CAA’s decision on City Airport’s flight paths.
And lots of emails to catch up on. I’ve written before that most of HACAN’s emails come from South East London. Another one today, a new complainant:
“It iUIis quite unreal in Brockley as not many other people here seem to talk about it . but as our garden backs on to a large open area of railway, allotments and forest we have a lot of sky. sometimes there are 2 planes behind each other and we see them coming from all directions to align for the runway above us. official figures i got from Heathrow say its 650 planes a day so that is 1 every minute !! it is indeed relentless and the situation has rendered us really stressed.”
The evening took me to a cold and wet Hammersmith for a meeting with West London Friends of the Earth. Good meeting looking at the role local FOE groups can play in the wider coalition against the 3rd runway we have set up. Next week the coalition has an important meeting discussing its activities for the coming months.
It always interests me how different groups bring different things to the coalition. On Monday in Harmondsworth the focus was community destruction. In Stratford there was deep concern about noise. At the FOE meeting noise was hardly mentioned, with being the emphasis on air pollution and climate change. The trick for the coalition is to combine these very different perspectives.
Thursday saw more work on the HACAN East evidence to the forthcoming Public Inquiry. And also work on promotional material we are putting together for use over the next few months. In the afternoon I met with National FOE to talk through how airports could feature in their activities around the Mayoral Election in May.
In the evening I was either saying ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good morning’, via Skype, to a couple of people in America hired by the airports to assess their flight path changes. The assessment has been prompted by the soaring number of complaints the airports received following their decision to concentrate flight paths. They were interested in Heathrow’s approach and in particular its decision to commission work on practical ways of introducing respite. I expect to hear more about that at the Heathrow Noise Forum next week.
Friday morning saw me in Brockley to assist a young noise expert who is looking to assemble a noise-cancelling device. We were taking readings of the existing noise. Arriving at Brockley Station, I was reminded just how intrusive aircraft noise is in the area. There is some dispute about how long it has been this bad, but no dispute that it is bad. This is the sort of area where respite could be a life-saver.
In the afternoon I was at Mile End in East London to take photos of a campaigner for some of the promotional material we are putting together. It was good fun. But on my way back I spotted what I think prompted this blog. I regret not being quick enough to take a photo of it but just above Mile End Station was a Heathrow plane coming into land about 1,000 ft above a London City plane taking off. And that scene is repeated time and again in the areas on a daily basis whenever the west wind is blowing…about 70% of the year. Don’t tell people in Mile End they shouldn’t have moved close to an airport! They simply didn’t!
Monday I’ll be up early for Radio Gloucester at 7.30am and then straight to Willesden Magistrates Court for the start of the trial of the 13 Plane Stupid activists who occupied the Heathrow Runway.
But, take heart, I won’t be blogging about next week or any other week! This is a one-off!