Land Referencing Letter Explained

We have had a lot of questions about a Land Referencing letter some of you will have received from Heathrow.  It is a legal requirement for any promoter of a major development to send these out.  They go to households who may – and we stress may – be impacted by the construction of a third runway.  Most people who receive a letter will not be.  You are not required to respond to it though Heathrow are likely to follow up if you don’t.  And it doesn’t mean, of course, that a 3rd runway is inevitable.  It still has to overcome the hurdles of the current legal challenge, a planning inquiry (expected next year) and uncertainty if a new Government came to power.

Aviation Green Paper out for Consultation

The Government published its Green Paper with proposals for its new aviation strategy at the end of last year which it will finalise and release in the second half of 2019.  The consultation will end on 20th June 2019 It is an important document.  It sets out proposals for UK aviation policy until 2050.

The consultation was originally due to close on 11th April but has been extended to 20th June 2019 in part, allow comment to be made on the Committee on Climate Change report due in May.

Link to the full paper:

There’s also a NATS paper on the new type of flight paths being introduced:

And a CAA paper on past and future noise levels:

Read the 3 page summary HACAN has put together: 

Here is a short paper to help you with your response: 

Heathrow Noise Action Plan Published

Each airport with over 50,000 movements is required by the European Union to publish a Noise Action Plan every 5 years. Heathrow has just published it latest one covering the years 2019 – 2023. It only focuses on a two-runway Heathrow since, if a third runway gets permission, it will not be up and running until about 2025/6. UK airports will not be required to produce Noise Action Plans if the UK leaves the EU but the Government is considering replacing them with Noise Reduction Plans:

Third Runway Court Challenge

The legal challenge to the Government’s decision to approve the  3rd Runway in principle finished in the High Court on 22nd March, with a decision expected within a couple of months.  There were five challenges: one from some local authorities plus the Mayor of London and Greenpeace; one each from Friends of the Earth and Plan B; one from Heathrow Hub, which wants to extend the existing northern runway; and one from an individual.  Transcripts of proceedings can be found at: 

Independent Noise Authority set up

ICCAN, an independent body to ensure fair play between Government, communities and local authorities, has been set up.  HACAN has already had two meetings with ICCAN.  We welcome the setting up of an independent body, having long pushed for it.  Indeed, we produced a joint report with Heathrow calling for such a body. You can read the report here:

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

Read the press release:

Heathrow’s first round of consultation on new flight paths approved

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved Heathrow’s first round of consultation on its new flights paths (it consulted on the design principles for them).  It leaves Heathrow free to consult on the second stage in January 2019.  This will be on design envelopes (the broad areas where the flight paths will be).  The consultation on the detailed flight paths is unlikely before 2021

New WHO Guidelines tougher on aircraft noise

The new noise guidelines from the World Health Organisation, published 10th October 2018, are tougher on aircraft noise than previously.  The guidelines indicate that aircraft noise can affect the health of people living well over 20 miles from Heathrow.  They are of course just guidelines, not intended to be implemented overnight. Their main purpose is to indicate the levels at which noise can become a health problem.

Recommended Limits

Road                            53Lden                        45Lnight

 Rail                              54Lden                        44Lnight

 Aircraft                      45Len                          40Lnight

 Wind Turbines      45Lden         no recommendation

Our view this a strong message to Heathrow as it develops its new flight paths that aircraft noise problems are not confined to areas close to the airport.  

For more details, see the HACAN press release: 


We have done a plain person’s guide to the WHO report:

WHO Report: People most likely to become highly annoyed by aircraft noise when change takes place

The new WHO report has found that more people are highly-annoyed by aircraft noise than 20 years ago and that high levels of annoyance are most likely to occur when change takes place (new airport; new runway; changed flight path).  But there are also other reasons for high levels of annoyance.  Read more here:

High Court allows 3rd Runway legal challenges to go to full hearing

On 4th October the judge in the Courts of Justice ruled that 5 of the 6 of challenges to Parliament’s decision to back a 3rd Runway can go to a full hearing.  The one that was dropped was an individual in Birmingham.  The cases will be held over a 2 week period in March next year.   Elements of the cases he can combine to avoid duplication.

The four main challenges are from are from Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead, backed by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London; the one from Heathrow Hub.  and challenges from Friends of the Earth and Plan B, both on climate change.  The fifth is from an individual based in SW London.

This ruling does not of course stop Heathrow preparing and consulting on its plans for a third runway.

Heathrow’s 3rd Runway Timetable

Assuming it is not derailed by any of the legal challenges, Heathrow intends to consult on its detailed plans for a third runway in 2019 before presenting its plans to a public inquiry in 2020.  The public inquiry by law cannot last more than 6 months and will largely rely on written evidence.  It is likely to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport in 2021.  If the Secretary approves the detailed plans, Heathrow aims to open the new runway in 2015.


 Communities face ‘a tsunami of noise’ as cabinet backs third runway

 5/6/18 for immediate use

A leading campaign group said that many communities would face ‘a tsunami of noise’ if a third runway went ahead at Heathrow.  On the day the Cabinet gave its official backing to a new runway HACAN, the long-established residents’ group which opposes Heathrow expansion, said that ‘many people’s lives would be changed forever’ as a result of the noise from the 700 extra planes a day that would use the airport if a third runway is built.

Parliament will be required to vote on the Airports National Policy Statement (1), which sets out plans for a third runway, within 21 days.  Most Conservatives are expected to back the plans.  The Labour Party is divided on the issue.  A number of leading members of the shadow cabinet such as John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbot have a long history of opposing a third runway but it is backed by many MPs outside London who believe it will improve connectivity to their areas. The Liberal Democrats oppose the new runway but it is supported by the DUP and the Scottish National Party, though the latter may be reluctant to vote with the Conservatives.

The National Policy Statement, laid before Parliament today by transport secretary Chris Grayling, also set out a number of binding conditions which Heathrow would need to adhere to.  These included a six and a half hour night ban, up from five hours at present; strict air pollution limits; improved compensation for local residents; and tough powers for the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure the costs of the third runway do not become excessive.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “This is a bad day for residents.  Many communities will face a tsunami of noise if a third runway goes ahead.  Many people who will be under new flights paths will find their lives changed forever.  We will continue to oppose a new runway but, obviously, if it becomes inevitable, we will fight for the best conditions possible for residents.”

A number of local authorities are expected to challenge any Parliamentary vote for a third runway in the courts.

If Parliament backs a third runway, it becomes Government policy and Heathrow will start drawing up its detailed plans.  It expects these to be put out to public consultation next year and to be laid before a planning inquiry in 2020.  If the plans are approved, it hopes to start building the runway in 2021 and open it in 2025.


 Notes for editors

 (1). Link to the National Policy Statement –

For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650



Aircraft Noise: a problem in Sevenoaks?

Sevenoaks has an aircraft noise problem? It is 31 miles from Heathrow; 18 miles from Gatwick. Only the smaller Biggin Hill Airport is relatively close to the Kent town, 8 miles away. When HACAN received these comments we decided to investigate the situation: “Couldn’t possibly happen in Sevenoaks could it? Oh, it already is!” “Just another lovely day under all the Heathrow and Gatwick flight paths in Kent – what an absolute shame” “Never felt like this before – actually thought I was going to have a heart attack with all of the planes today and yesterday…. not good” Read on…..

Heathrow rules out all-day concentrated flying on its new flight paths

Heathrow published the results of the first round of its consultation into new flight paths on 19th September.  It has ruled out all-day concentrated flying. At HACAN we welcome this and take some credit for it as we have been campaigning for this for over a decade. The consultation, held earlier this year, asked people about what principles should be followed when the airport designs its new flight paths.  Most people wanted respite and sharing out of the noise.  Many said new areas should not be impacted.  The least popular option was all-day flying concentrated over a few communities.  The theme running through Heathrow’s report is that it will aim to share the noise around and provide respite. 

The full report can be read here: