HACAN started life in the 1960s as KACAN, Kew Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise. Within 10 years the acronym altered and we became HACAN, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.
Both organisations always recognised that Heathrow has a contribution to make to the national economy, and to the London’s local economy. We have never opposed Heathrow per se. Our aim has been to represent the concerns of the residents under the flight paths and around the airport.
HACAN became HACAN ClearSkies in 1999/2000 as aircraft noise became a serious problem for the first time in areas of London and the Thames Valley much further away from Heathrow. People are troubled by aircraft noise who live over 20 miles from the airport. There was a change in the way the aircraft were brought into land in 1996, bringing noise to these new areas. This was done in secret, without consultation or warning with the local councils or the local communities. Subsequently went back to just calling ourselves HACAN.
We believe that residents have been betrayed by successive governments.
In 1978, the Inspector at the Terminal 4 Public Inquiry recommended the go-ahead for the terminal, but with a strict limit on the number of flights. Within a short time of the terminal opening (in the late 1980s) that limit had ben ignored.
In the 1990s we fought the longest Public Enquiry in UK history – lasting nearly 4 years – against Terminal 5. In 2001, the Inspector recommended the go-ahead for Terminal 5, but with a limit of 480,000 flights per year. The Government accepted the limit, but within 9 months it had put out for consultation proposals for a 3rd runway which would have increased the annual number of flights to 655,000. Terminal 5 in due to be open in 2007.
HACAN has gone to the highest court in Europe over night flights.
In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found in our favour, and against the Government. It agreed that night flights were an infringement of our human right to a good night’s sleep. But the Government appealed and the court upheld the appeal in July 2003.
HACAN ClearSkies now works with protest groups across the UK and all over Europe.
We are not in the business of ‘exporting our misery’ to somebody else. We believe that the only hope to bring a halt to the incessant pressure for expansion of Heathrow is a change of direction in European policy.. We argue that, if the substantial tax concessions the industry receives each year were phased out, Governments could manage demand.