Council Leader Challenges Heathrow Claims

2M Group pose question at a public hearing on airport expansion

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The cost of insulating homes affected by Heathrow expansion would be at least £200 million according to Hounslow Council.

Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran spoke at a Public Discussion event on the options for airport expansion hosted by the Airports Commission.

The leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Hounslow and Windsor and Maidenhead took part in the session at Park Inn, Heathrow Airport (3 Dec)

The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities. Members of the group include councils surrounding Heathrow and under its flightpaths.

Cllr Steve Curran said: “We're calling for a better not bigger airport which means better noise insulation for homes in Hounslow.

“We estimate this would cost around £200 million so Heathrow’s compensation package of £550 million across 14 local authorities is clearly not nearly enough.”

Cllr Curran also told the Airports Commission that while Hounslow Council was happy with the airport’s recent public commitment to the completion of their existing schools’ insulation programme by summer 2015, he would continue to seek further improvements to benefit schools and local communities. Cllr Curran also called for Heathrow to support the creation of an Aviation Skills Academy.

He said: “Hounslow doesn't want to see Heathrow close but the airport could do more. Heathrow employs tens of thousands of people in the local area. Losing it would be catastrophic to the local economy.

“We want Heathrow to work with us to up-skill our workforce and create an Aviation Skills Academy which would help ensure Hounslow residents have the opportunity to become the engineers, air traffic controllers and pilots of the future."

Cllr Curran also called for substantial improvements to the public transport network servicing the airports, in particular the Piccadilly Line.

The council's position of a night flight curfew between 11pm and 7am was strongly repeated to the Airports Commission.

Wandsworth’s Ravi Govindia asked why a night flight ban couldn’t be delivered at the airport. Heathrow bosses said night flights were “important commercially”.


Govindia warned the Airports Commission that it places too much faith in computer models which “defy common sense” by suggesting noise impacts fall while the number of flights goes up by 200,000 a year.

Cllr Govindia pressed the airport owners on whether their new noise respite proposal, which involve planes arriving along several different curved flightpaths, was actually within their power to deliver. The airport admitted the system was dependant on weather conditions and operational issues, so would not be in operation all of the time. The airport’s current respite plan works around 50 per cent of the time for the same reasons.

Govindia asked why Heathrow could not offer the same noise compensation package offer at Paris Charles de Gaul airport. In response Heathrow admitted that their current noise mitigation offer “isn't enough” and said new proposals would come out next year. It is not clear if this will be after the Airports Commission consultation is over.

Govindia told the hearing that a new rail route to Heathrow from south London is needed now to cope with the airport’s existing transport deficiencies. It is not dependant on expansion.

Cllr Govindia said: “All of the Heathrow expansion plans include noise respite systems which are beyond the airport’s ability to control and deliver. That was absolutely clear from today’s hearing.

“We are deeply concerned that the Commission continues to use computer modelling alone to assess noise impacts. These models claim that Heathrow has become ‘quieter’ despite the number of flights over London and the Home Counties increasing. This is clearly wrong. On the ground you cannot tell the difference between new generation planes and last generation planes – the CAA confirms this. The only difference people are aware of is that there are more of them flying overhead.

“All of the expansion proposals will make the noise impacts of Heathrow much worse and our residents hold these ‘noise contours’ in utter distain. More planes means more noise. That is the simple truth the Commission should accept.”

The other 2M council leaders questioned the Commission and the airport expansion promoter on air quality, surface access, the destruction of local communities and the authenticity of the airport sponsored Back Heathrow campaign.

December 4, 2014