Third runway at Heathrow should be scrapped and all growth halted, says report

Air traffic growth at key London airports should be halted completely and plans for Heathrow’s third runway should be scrapped, according to a new report.

The Aircraft Noise report, published today by the London Assembly Environment Committee, says noise levels are “unacceptable” for residents living near Heathrow and City Airports.

As a result, it wants to halt proposed air traffic growth at both airports, and scrap plans entirely for the third runway at Heathrow.

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Other measures the London Assembly proposes include continuing the ban on night flights, and “strengthening” the restrictions around early morning flights.

The report also proposes rotating flight paths, and designing routes that minimise noise by avoiding “stacking” low-level flying and flying overlapping paths.

London is the world capital of aviation by passenger numbers. The city’s six airports handle more than 150 million passengers a year, well ahead of New York and Tokyo.

Both Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, and City handled a record number of passengers in 2018. Eighty million passengers passed through the West London airport last year, up 2.7 per cent, while at City Airport passenger numbers grew by 6.4 per cent in 2018 to 4.8 million.

Even before the proposed expansion, Heathrow wants to add an extra 68 flights a day, or 25,000 flights a year.

“The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying,” said Caroline Russell AM, chair of the Environment Committee.

“There are significant health impacts that follow from an inability to sleep, relax and concentrate.

“This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives. It is not an acceptable price to pay for air travel. It isn’t right and must be challenged.

“We have already made clear our objection to the expansion of Heathrow but aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”

Earlier this month, Heathrow Airport launched an eight-week consultation on its proposed expansion.

A London City Airport spokesperson told The Independent: “It is recognised by Government at a national and local level that sustainable growth in the aviation industry is not only important for the country, but also for London.

“We are conscious of the need to be a good neighbour, which is inherent to how we operate, with the most stringent operating conditions in the UK and significant measures to mitigate noise disturbance. The first stage of the London Airspace Management Programme also means 1.2 million fewer people live under arriving aircraft.”

The Independent has asked Heathrow airport for comment.

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