Sharing Flight Paths: the classic call of the Nimby or a desperate plea for help?
HACAN is open 365 days a year and every single day we get emails from people driven to distraction by aircraft noise. Every. Single. Day. People in despair. Two from this weekend’s batch:
“I haven’t slept without earplugs for over a year and now spend 2 nights away from home each week now just to try to sleep…”
“Have we lost the fight? Do we always now have to have this assault on our senses? Will we ever get respite?”
And many of these people didn’t move close to an international airport. Most live over 15 miles from Heathrow. In fact we get far fewer complaints from West London. Over generations, I suspect, many have learnt to live with the noise. And some of course benefit from runway alternation when the planes landing over West London switch runways at 3pm to allow a break from the noise.
The complaints come from Clapham, Brockley, Vauxhall – places that can get as many as 40 planes an hour, often through much the day. And from people living under the take-off routes as they have become more concentrated: Hanwell, Staines, Ealing.
The call of all these residents for relief as been branded as Nimby in some quarters. I would strongly argue it is not. None of them are wanting all the planes to be shifted elsewhere; simply for the noise to be shared around on the basis that, if this is done well, nobody’s life should be turned upside down in the way theirs has been.
When I campaigned against road building in London in the 1980s some Dulwich residents, faced with the prospect of the South Circular outside their homes being widened, advocated a new highway was built through Brixton and Peckham. That’s Nimbyism. That’s parcelling up the misery and exporting it elsewhere. Precisely what the overflown residents are not calling for.
HACAN has worked hard over the last few years to promote to not Nimbyism, but respite. We are pleased to say that respite is now official Government policy and that Heathrow Airport supports the concept. We are engaging with Heathrow to find ways in which it can work for both the airport and residents.
London City Airport, by contrast, is planning to concentrate their routes – http://www.londoncityairport.com/londonairspacemanagement. Not that they have gone out of their way to tell anybody. Information has simply been put on their website and given to their supine consultative committee.
HACAN has worked hard to publicise their proposals. Last week the story hit the front page of the South London Press and featured heavily in the East London newspapers. Tonight we are holding a meeting in Wanstead Library which is expected to be packed with residents and local councillors. It will be addressed by GLA members Roger Evans and Murad Qureshi. GLA members and councillors south of the river also plan to write to the airport with their concerns.
It’s a battle that HACAN is fighting to win. We will be questioning whether the consultation has been conducted properly and indeed whether the absence of respite from London City’s proposals means they maybe flouting Government policy. And we are doing because sharing is fairer. That’s not Nimbyism.