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Heathrow to launch two key consultations in January


13/12/17 strictly embargoed until 14/12/17 00h01


Heathrow has announced that on 17th January next year it will launch two major consultations.  The first will be into the mitigation measures that should be put in place if a third runway is given the go-ahead.  The second will be on the design of new flight paths as the airport embarks on the biggest reorganisation of its airspace since it opened in 1946.-

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said:  “These will be very important consultations for local communities.   They could impact the quality of people’s lives for generations to come.  During the consultation period HACAN will be putting forward tough proposals to mitigate the impacts of a third runway should it be given the go-ahead.  And we will seize the chance to assist with the design of new flight paths so that they give local people as much respite from the noise as possible.”

Both consultations will last for a 10 week period.

Parliament is not expected to vote on whether to give the third runway the go-ahead until April or May next year.  However, Heathrow is consulting on mitigations measures on the basis that last year the Prime Minister announced that Heathrow was the Government’s preferred option for a new runway.

Heathrow has been expected for some time to consult on new flight paths.  It will reorganize its airspace whether or not it is given permission for a new runway.  The airspace changes are being driven by new technology which allows aircraft to be guided more precisely.  This cuts the cost of fuel for airlines, reduces CO2 emissions and improves the resilience of the airport.   All airports in Europe are expected to introduce this new technology over the next decade.

Stewart said, “This new technology to modernize airspace clearly benefits the aviation industry.  But it could also work for residents if the new precision flight paths that will be coming in are rotated so as to give meaningful respite to local communities.  That is what we will be fighting for”.


 For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

Heathrow’s Review of 2016 Published

On November 30th Heathrow published is review of 2016.  It comes in the form of two reports:

Key points of interest from the first report include the fact that during the year there was a 70/30% west/east split in wind direction (generally, aircraft land take-off into the wind); and that planes adhered to runway alternation 90% of the time.

But it was the second report which Heathrow highlighted.  It said, ” Although 2016 had the highest passenger traffic, the Lden 55 dBA contour had its smallest area and the fewest number of people living within it over the 11-year study period (2006-2016)”.  In other words, the noise contours are shrinking because of the introduction of less noisy planes.

But, as HACAN pointed out in its response, “This doesn’t tell the whole story.  The way Heathrow measures the noise gives too much weight to the noise of individual aircraft which has fallen but not enough to the number of planes going overhead.  It is the sheer volume of planes that drives people to distraction these days.”

But HACAN added, “We do welcome the inclusion for the first time in the report a range of new metrics which actually paint a more accurate picture of the noise experienced by residents than its over-dramatic headline suggests.  Heathrow becomes one of the first airports in the world to use such a wide range of metrics.”

Heathrow has not just averaged out the noise over the day – the traditional way of measuring the noise – but has, additionally indicated the number of planes going over each community and how noisy they are which many believe is a more meaningful measurement.  Because planes have become quieter, this metric also shows a reduction in the numbers impacted.  Heathrow has also for the first time produced noise contours just for the days of the year when planes are flying over communities rather than just the annual average which can be misleading because it includes the days when there are no planes.

Heathrow does acknowledge that the noise climate between 2006 and 2016 has become a little worse in some areas, particularly those ‘south of Windsor’ due to the increase in planes, often large, heavy planes, serving long-haul destinations.

It is not clear that the report has fully factored in the increased concentration that some communities have experienced, both on landings and departures. 

Latest news on flight paths; night flights; 3rd runway vote and Cranford Agreement

Flight Path Studies

Two separate studies will soon be underway looking at the impact of planes taking off more steeply from Heathrow.  Heathrow will soon commission work.  In parallel, the Civil Aviation Authority  will look at the climb rats at other UK and international airports and make recommendations in a report expected out in early 2018.

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?

Vote on Third Runway Next 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 next year.  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.

Environment Select Committee: Government not doing enough to mitigate impact of 3rd runway

Press Release

 22/2/17 strictly embargoed until 0.01am Thursday 23rd February 2017


The influential Environmental Audit Committee in a report (1) issued today has said that the Government is still not doing enough to mitigate the environmental impacts of the planned new runway at Heathrow.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:  “If the Government wants to get Heathrow expansion off the ground it needs to show that a third runway can be built and run without exceeding legal limits on air pollution or breaching our carbon budgets.”  The report also found that the measures to tackle noise lacked ambition.

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the campaign group which opposes Heathrow expansion, said, “The Committee is saying in no uncertain terms that both the Government and Heathrow Airport have got to up their game big-time if they are to have any chance of getting a third runway.  They have got to prove they can deliver on noise, climate and air pollution, not just say they can.”

The report comes out just weeks after the Government launched a public consultation on a third runway at Heathrow.  The consultation ends on 25th May.  Later this year or early next year MPs are expected to be asked to vote on the runwayOnly if they vote in favour will a third runway become Government policy and Heathrow will be able to draw up detailed plans for it.

(1). The report:


Ministers must be bold enough to reject 3rd runway if consultation reveals real problems


 2/2/17 for immediate use


Campaign group HACAN has urged ministers to be bold enough to reject a third runway if the National Policy Statement consultation, issued today, reveals real problems with the proposal.  As expected, transport secretary Chris Grayling when launching the consultation highlighted the importance of a new runway to the post-Brexit economy but HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the flight paths, argues that the downsides of a new runway are also considerable.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “There is no way that a quarter of a million extra planes a year cannot but have a severe impact on many people’s lives.  A third runway will also mean the demolition of many homes and could add to London’s air pollution problems.  The Government must be even-handed in assessing the consultation and reject a third runway if, as we believe, its downsides are simply too high.”

Stewart added: “Heathrow still has considerable hurdles to overcome before a third runway can see the light of day.  The Government has for the first time made permission for a new runway conditional on it serving unfashionable UK destinations for which there is a limited market and on Heathrow ensuring there will be no increase in airport related road traffic if the runway is built.  These are very big asks indeed.”

The consultation will last for 16 weeks.  After that the proposals will be considered by the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee.  Parliament will vote on the National Policy Statement late 2017/early 2018.  Only if it is approved will a third runway become Government policy.

If it is approved, next year Heathrow will need to draw up detailed plans for the new runway which are expected to go to a planning inquiry in 2019.  Heathrow does not expect to get final approval for the third runway until 2020 or 2021.

The Government also launched a national consultation today on its future airspace strategy.  It will asking for views on the principles which it should use in making airspace changes – for example, if people prefer concentrated flight paths or a more dispersed approach.  But it will not deal with detailed flight paths.  It will be at least another 18 months before it becomes clearer where Heathrow’s new flight paths will be if a third runway is given the go-ahead.


 Department for Transport media briefing:

For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650

No change proposed to night flight regime at Heathrow

The Government is proposing no change to the number of night flights at Heathrow.  The consultation document, released today by the Department for Transport, argues that the current regime should continue for the next five years.  It will then be clearer whether a third runway will be underway.  Permission to build a third runway is expected to be conditional on a tougher night flight regime being introduced when it opens.

At present an average of 16 flights each night are allowed to land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am.  There are no scheduled departures during this period.  The first flight lands at 4.30am.

John Stewart, chair of the campaign group HACAN said, “Local residents will be disappointed that their early morning wake-up call remains the first flight at 4.30am.  We do, though, see the sense in postponing any changes until the question of a third runway is settled.  During the forthcoming consultation on the new runway we will be arguing very strongly for no flights before 6am.”

Every few years the Department for Transport sets the night flight regime for the country’s three designated airports, Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.  The current regime comes to an end in October this year.  This consultation will run until Tuesday 28 February 2017, after which responses will be reviewed by the Department for Transport and a final decision on night flights is expected to be published by May.

The consultation is proposing no change to the annual movement limit at Gatwick but a new limit will be set for Stansted to take out of the increased number of quieter planes which have been using it in recent years.

The consultation is available at

A HACAN Briefing on the consultation is available at  (pdf)



Press Release

3/1/17 for immediate use


Research carried out by the campaign group HACAN has revealed that Hounslow to be the most overflown borough in London.  Richmond is in second place but the surprise is that that only three of the top 12 most boroughs are in West London with Waltham Forest being the third most overflown (1). 

HACAN calculated the combined impact of Heathrow and London City aircraft on each borough.  It didn’t factor in the heights of the planes; only the number flying over each borough.  It follows up a similar study carried out in 2009.  It also put Hounslow, Richmond and Waltham Forest in the top three positions.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “Our survey once again shows that aircraft noise is not just confined to West London.  It has become a London-wide problem.  Somewhere like Waltham Forest is bombarded by planes from both Heathrow and London City airports.”

HACAN found that the most significant change from the 2009 survey was the reduction in the number of flights over some of the inner London boroughs such as Camden and Islington.  This was matched by an increase in flights over the South East London boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth.  It put it down to the introduction of concentrated London City flight paths over these boroughs plus the fact that aircraft coming into land at Heathrow appear to be crossing the Thames further east than was previously the case.

The study comes out at the start of an important year for aviation.  In a few weeks the Government is expected to release its consultation document on a Heathrow third runway as well as a consultation on future airspace strategy.


 Notes for Editors:


For further information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650




Joint call for Independent Noise Authority

HACAN has joined with Heathrow Airport to call for an Independent Noise Authority to be set up.  The unkilely 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: