Heathrow Third Runway Plans Will Blight Wimbledon With Extra Noise

Newly-released map shows noise effects on SW19 residents

Campaigners fighting against controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport claim it will blight Wimbledon with noise levels of 54 decibels.

Earlier this month the Cabinet backed a decision by the Government's economic subcommittee, to give the go-ahead to the project. Parliament will vote on the proposal before the end of the month.

The decision has provoked anger in the anti-airport expansion and environmental groups across the city and some local authorities have threatened to challenge it in the courts.

Opponents of expansion warned of "a tsunami of noise" over flight path areas and said the Cabinet decision "a bad day" for residents. Pro-expansion group Back Heathrow has welcomed the Cabinet’s verdict.

Now the No 3rd Runway Coalition group has obtained a map (below) via a Freedom of Information request showing where 2.2 million people will be exposed to additional aircraft noise.

It says that for the first time, Wimbledon residents will be exposed to noise levels of 54 decibels. The campaign group, which represents residents Groups from across and beyond London, environmental and aviation organisations, GLA members, councillors and MPs, and Borough Councils, says this is 3 decibels above the Department of Transport’s level of “lowest observable adverse effect.”

Heathrow third runway noise level map

Paul McGuinness, the chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said yesterday: “With Heathrow sitting at the heart of the country’s most densely populated region, an increase in the number of flights by over 50% was always going to mean more people being adversely impacted by aircraft noise. Whilst shameful that this analysis was kept under wraps and only made available by a Freedom of Information request, we do at least now have a clearer idea of who will be impacted.

“The Government can’t bat away these numbers with their mantra that planes will be quieter in the future, because that’s already factored into the figures. 2.2 million people will be adversely impacted by Heathrow’s noise if a third runway is built and, while some who are already under flight paths will be hit twice as hard, many communities will be impacted for the very first time.

"It’s wrong that communities and residents haven’t been told who will be impacted, and extraordinary that MPs haven’t been provided with this critical information before the parliamentary vote.

“Even this map underplays it, because it’s a minimised scenario based on averages, so several extra areas outside of it will also be significantly and adversely impacted for some of the time.

“But it reaffirms that the government’s claim of world class mitigation - a comparatively paltry budget for insulation payments for those within a short distance from the airport and a new body to receive noise complaints – is little more than a feather duster in the face of the planned onslaught.”

The National Policy Statement on Heathrow, laid before Parliament by Chris Grayling on June 5, has 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.

But 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.

Most Conservatives are expected to back the plans when Parliament votes later this month. 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.

Wandsworth, Richmond and Windsor & Maidenhead councils believe that the decision is illegal. The councils have responded that the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) fails to address the key recommendations of the Transport Select Committee on noise and air quality. The TSC report had criticised the way the Department for Transport had understated the numbers of people likely to be affected by noise.

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June 22, 2018