At the start of this year, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) issued two consultations, covering Airport Expansion and the Principles of Airspace Design. These are part of the process that Heathrow must go through to gain approval for expansion and for airspace changes that are needed for it. Additionally, the principles for airspace changes will apply even if a third runway is not built.
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign responded to both consultations in March and our responses can be found on our website. Our response to the Principles of Airspace Design was particularly critical of the apparent lack of strategy and the vagueness of Heathrow’s proposals. Heathrow have since provided further information on their proposals, to which the Richmond Heathrow Campaign responded in July.
The threats to Richmond are
(i) The potential for flights to take off overhead
(ii) Less hours of respite from the noise of planes coming in to land
(iii) A higher proportion of heavy, noisier aircraft approaching the airport overhead
(iv) A potential increase in night noise
The opportunities include noise reductions arising from improved technology and changed flight operations.
Our response covered Heathrow’s Noise Objectives and Airspace Design Principles, and also recommended an overall decision framework.
Heathrow’s Airspace principles currently have three noise objectives:
(a) Limit and where possible reduce the number of people in the UK adversely affected by noise
(b) Share benefits from future noise improvements between the aviation industry and local communities
(c) Strike a fair balance between the negative aspects of noise and the positive economic impacts of flights
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign believes there should be the following two crucial updates to these objectives.
1. Amend Noise Objective (a) to incorporate WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines, establishing their legal status, and a UK strategy and timetable for meeting them. In particular, these guidelines recommend that a fixed interval of 8 hours is a minimal choice for night protection from the effects of noise.
2. Add a fourth Community Noise Objective: Where there is a reduction in overall noise the benefit should be applied to those already most affected and where there is an increase in overall noise the dis-benefit should be applied to those already least affected.
Airspace Design Principles
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s response also made 13 further recommendations on airspace design principles. These cover safety, flight dispersion, flight frequency, noise respite, flight path separation, flight path concentration and performance based navigation (PBN), less noisy aircraft fleet, ICAO* land use requirements, runway length and parallel operation, ICAO* flight operational requirements, London’s parks, night noise, and altitude based priorities.
* ICAO is the acronym for the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Integrated Decision Framework
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign also recommended that there should be an integrated decision framework to bring together design principles and stakeholder interests in order to minimise noise impact the share the costs and benefits of noise mitigation both rationally and fairly.
We continue to play a leading part in the Heathrow Community Noise Forum (HCNF) to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on Heathrow, and to minimise or eliminate the impact of any changes to airspace design.
A more detailed summary of our response, the full response, and a presentation of the response to HCNF can be found here on our website.