Noise alert over north London as Heathrow airport bids for more flights

Airport wants to operate 25,000 more flights a year, pledging an extended night flight ban

Thursday, 7th March 2019 — By Samantha Booth

From left, campaigners Jessica Learmond-Criqui, Catherine McNaught, Marcos Gold and Lesley Stevas

From left, campaigners Jessica Learmond-Criqui, Catherine McNaught, Marcos Gold and Lesley Stevas

CAMPAIGNERS opposing an increase in flights over Hampstead are demanding Heathrow officials come to Camden to answer their questions.

The airport wants to create up to 25,000 more flights a year by using existing runways differently and creating new flight paths. This would be ahead of controversial plans to build a third runway at the west London airport.

Residents and businesses have fears about the possible increased noise and pollution the planes could emit – but have had to consider detailed consultation documents without a representative of Heathrow to address their concerns.

Lesley Stevas, of Christchurch Hill, said that a leaflet which came through her letterbox had alerted her to the options.

“When I first saw it come through my door, I thought it was a mistake,” she said. “Then I decided to look into it and I was quite alarmed.”

Throughout the consultation, which ended on Monday, there were about 30 public meetings around London, which even offered residents a sound demonstration – but the nearest was in central London or Harrow with none around Camden. One resident wrote to Heathrow asking for a local event, in either Hampstead or Highgate. However, an airport official said that, despite trying to ensure all events were as “accessible as possible”, it was “unable to provide events in all areas”.

Campaigner Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “If they came and did a consultation with us in Hampstead then we can ask the questions directly. A lot of people do not know about this yet.” Heathrow wants to create IPAs – independent parallel approaches – allowing the airport to land aircraft on both runways. Heathrow says it could increase efficiency and the resilience of the airport. In the zone Hampstead sits in, there could be up to 25 planes between 6am and 7am, with the possibility that noise from all of them could be above 60 decibels – equivalent to a conversation a metre away. After 7am there could be up to six flights an hour.

Ms Learmond-Criqui questioned the impact of further pollution on people’s health. “The pollution stays in our atmosphere. Given the fact young adults and children have marched to save the planet, why are [Heathrow] even thinking about doing this?”

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Having held over 30 public consultation events we are now in the process of taking into account feedback. “Our submission to the Airports Commission showed how a combination of quieter planes, quieter airport design, quieter operations and an extended night flight ban to 6.5 hours will mean it is possible to expand while affecting fewer people by noise than were affected in 2013.”

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