Heathrow Expansion Will (May) Go Ahead. (Or May Not)

[Update: 25 October. As expected the Government has just voted in favour of a third runway at Heathrow]


It now looks as if it’s definitely going to happen. Or it may not. After years of dithering a decision in favour of expanding Heathrow will (i.e. could) be made by the end of October. Note the ‘coulds’ and ‘mays’, or maybe that’s Mays. In short, no one really wants to be the PM who gives clear and irreversible support for expanding the UK’s busiest airport. David Cameron made a clear decision to have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. And what did that get him? A chance to practise his after dinner speeches, annotate his Number 10 diaries and weigh up offers of lucrative consultancy work, we’d imagine. OK, so a third runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick isn’t exactly Brexit but it’s certainly highly divisive. A bit like HS2 with wings.

Insert planes here ^ ^ ^

Insert planes here ^ ^ ^

With so many local residents, local MPs and local Councils opposed to more planes filling the skies over west London, it’s not surprising that a decision keeps being fudged. All this goes on to the great annoyance of Heathrow who have said they’re ready to rock and roll with the construction work – they have the funds to do it from assorted sovereign wealth funds, pension schemes and elsewhere (all of whom no doubt have your very best interests at heart). It probably does make business sense to expand Heathrow but the purely commercial angle is just one aspect of such an important decision. There are the social, environmental and political angles too. Given these complexities, some question whether a third runway at Heathrow can ever actually be delivered.

The government decision in favour of Heathrow will still only mark the beginning of a new stage in the whole process. There’s a further public consultation planned, a Commons vote (complete with rebellious Tory MPs such as Zac Goldsmith, our very own Tania Mathias and the ever-pragmatic Boris Johnson), a planning process and, no doubt, assorted risks of legal challenges. Four years is likely to be the soonest that any construction could begin however, if the experience of the last few decades is anything to go by, in four years’ time we might see the government of the day establishing yet another new commission to look into airport expansion.

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

* BBC News – latest
* Teddington Action Group – local opposition group
* Richmond Council – opposed to Heathrow expansion
* Back Heathrow – pro 3rd runway


Filed under Heathrow, Local Issues & News

60 responses to “Heathrow Expansion Will (May) Go Ahead. (Or May Not)

  1. Sally

    I am starting not to believe in Davids either…..

    • David

      Well if you think all runways are the same no matter where they are located it makes sense that you’d tarnish all David’s with the same brush.

      I simply hope that you and the army of locals campaigning to save North London without considering the evidences don’t inadvertently make the our lives of people in Twickenham worse.

      Thanks to the ‘other’ David for actually reading, considering and adding value to the conversation. That’s it from me, I’m resigned to the fact that anyone else willing to respond to this thread has already made up their mind.

      Thanks all, bye

    • One final word, if I may: thank you for alerting us to what is proposed for the 2 existing runways and its likely effect on East Twickenham/St Mags, my patch. And for your patience, a rare quality in web discussions.

    • A different David

      It’s pretty pathetic to insinuate that David (the ‘original’ one) must be some kind of Heathrow shill (have we really come to that ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mindset?). I’ve heard several people ask the same questions, though in my opinion he is underestimating the likely impact of increased traffic on existing flight paths.

      From memory the Airport Commission was pretty candid about the need for a ban on night flights and a legal block on a fourth runway – I haven’t heard much about either since last week’s decision, but both would seem to be pretty important from Twickenham’s POV.

  2. Sally

    Sorry David it may not be the night for you to -utterly spontaneously-pop in to claim that the third runway will have no impact on us all.This evening the planes are very loud and the last few were going over every two minutes or so, It is really stressful We already live with a ghastly level of noise.
    . I do not believe in fairies. I do no believe in unicorns, I do not believe that a massive increase in flights over Heathrow will miraculously have no impact for us. that a third runway will result in no increase in noise levels or pollution or risk.

    • David

      The flight paths to the 3rd runway all go North so whether you believe in fairies or not is irrelevant to whether you can hear a plane flying over Wembley.

      I get it, you naturally fear all things Heathrow but I suggest we organise ourselves around the key issue for us. No more planes over Twickenham.

      We can do this by seeking legal guarantees that all flights will go North and that capacity will not be increased on the existing runways.

      Do you know what I fear? I fear that by objecting to a 3rd runway Heathrow will take the only other option available to them to increase capacity, longer operating hours or more frequent take offs. Have you ever considered that objecting to flights from a 3rd runway over North London will have the unintended consequence of more over Twickenham.

  3. anonymouse

    This is what El Brute think of the extra runway, extra flights and extra flight paths over our Borough:


    • anonymouse

      Well, at least David’s ‘pleased that the new runway will not effect me and the operation of the 2nd [middle runway] will benefit me as the planes will go over St Mags and East Twickenham providing central Twickenham with respite.’
      Sadly, with a 2 mile wide flight corridor he won’t always be so happy.

      I also see from tother David’s useful info that in future we won’t only be blighted by the DVR (Dover) flight path. We will also be under the BPK (Brookmans Park) flight path!

      With significant growth of flights in all directions from Heathrow, but especially to Far/Mid Eastern airports (on DVR path), it doesn’t look like any Twickenham or Richmond residents have much to be shout about. Not that we’re likely to be heard anyway!!!

    • David

      None of those flights will be coming from the 3rd runway though (according to current plans).

      Surely rather than campaigning against a 3rd runway we’d be better concentrating our energies on opposing more flights from the existing ones or should there be a 3rd runway that they get their fair share.

      I’m simply trying to be pragmatic about it. If we must accept a 3rd runway lets make it work for us and if we must fight it at least do it based on facts and not fear.

    • anonymouse

      Whoopydoo, we’ll only have a 50% increase of flights taking off from the runways that do & will blight Twickenham (South & Middle).
      David’s beloved 3rd runway has ONLY been found guilty of increasing air traffic by 50%, but not directly guilty of sending planes overhead – that’s the job of the other two runways.

    • David

      Sorry anonymouse but no that’s not the proposal. The 50% increase in flights from the 3rd runway will result in 220,000 flights per year but those will be ONLY from the 3rd runway.

      There is no planned change to the number of flights leaving from the existing runways only that there is a separate and completely independent proposal to start alternating them which would result in less flights over central Twickenham but new paths over East and St Mags. I’m not sure how better I can explain it, the two changes are independent.

      3rd runway = 220,000 flights going north with no impact on Twickenham
      Alternation of existing runway = same number of flights but 50% less over central and other 50% moving over East Twickenham.

      If you live in East Twickenham I understand that this is not ideal but either way that change is nothing to do with a 3rd runway and everything to do with Hillingdon planning application for new taxiways.

    • David

      PS. At least I hate the plans for Twickenham Riverside so I’m not 100% evil 😃

  4. A. Robot (Mrs)

    Ukip are supporting Zac on his Heathrow stance (allegedly). He and Twickerati may be interested in this delightful supporter:

    With friends like these etc……..

  5. Anonymous

    Ukip are supporting Zac on his Heathrow stance (allegedly). He and Twickerati may be interested in this delightful supporter:


    With friends like these etc……..

  6. Kb2405

    It’s my understanding that current respite arrangements in place for westerly operations would change with a 3rd runway, increasing to 12 hours per day from 8. This would impact residents living under north and south runway approaches across the Richmond borough. Can anyone confirm this or clarify what the arrangements might be? Some of us in Twickenham are affected by take-offs and landings.

  7. David

    You’re seeing what you want to see and being selective in your responses. You have provided no additional value other than your amusing sarcasm about vertical take offs in your first post. The flight paths of the existing runways on that map are possible whether we get a 3rd runway or not. You and nobody else I’ve spoken to have disputed this.

    It is abundantly clear that the 3rd runway flight paths are not proposed over Twickenham, Richmond et al. There is therefore no reason for the residents of the area to oppose the 3rd runway.

    That said you have good reason to oppose flights over Cranford if you live in East Twickenham or St Mags given this will affect you but that is irrelevant in the context of the 3rd runway.

    Thank you twickerman but go stalk another post please.

    Twickerati, is there any other evidence you are aware of that shows that flights from the 3rd runway will be over head?

    • twickerman

      David, the Airports Commission map you’ve presented is evidence enough of the proposed new flighpaths over Twickenham. Please take a look at all the bright shiny new red lines criss-crossing all parts of Twickenham.

      The twickerati should note that that each line is the centre of 3km wide flightpath corridor, just as the existing take-off flightpath spans all the way across from Teddington station to Twickenham station.

      These new flightpaths from the middle runway, will be required for the 50% extra traffic Heathrow’s 3rd runway will generate, most of which will be the largest, lowest and noisiest planes (B747s and A380s) heading South East to China and the Middle East.

      The new flightpaths are only required for the 3rd runway.

    • David

      Twickerman, you’re simply wrong.

      This is tracking the enablement of flights from the current northern runway. This is the application which will enable Heathrow to use those flight paths.

      I wish you’d do some research rather than continuing to troll my posts.

      The 3rd runway has zero impact on Twickenham and is absolutely unrelated to flights over Cranford. Please take an hour to research before responding again!

    • twickerman

      Oh David,
      Silly me. Of course 50% more flights and new flightpaths will have ‘zero impact’ on Twickenham, because all the planes will be nice, new and well behaved just like the ever increasing number of the A380s that roar overhead at just 1400ft.

    • David

      Yes but they’ll be over North London not here.

      Go away troll!

    • Adult

      Whatever the rights and wrongs of this issue, screeching ‘troll!’ at someone who disagrees with you pretty much loses you the argument really. You’ll be demanding a ‘safe space’ soon.
      Grow up.

    • David

      I’m very happy to have a debate but that debate is being drowned out by the same person responding with the same answer.

      I’ve provided a map referenced by airport watch on their homepage and attributed to the airport commission which shows all flights from the Northern runway going north. If this map is accurate we have nothing to fear from a 3rd runway: http://heathrowflightpaths.co.uk/images/home.jpg

      The map does however show additional flight paths from the middle runway but these will occur if Heathrow receives planning permission to build the taxiways, an appeal is with the government supported by the Royal Borough against Hillingdon link here: http://planning.hillingdon.gov.uk/OcellaWeb/appealDetails?appeal=7364&back=no just because the map shows these paths does not limit them to use only if heathrow is approved they are subject to this planning decision alone.

      I’ve not seen a shred of evidence to the contrary and ask the twickerati if anyone else has? If twickerman can hold back for a few hours maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can add value and provide some evidence to the contrary everything twickerman has said so far lacks any!

    • A different David

      While David is, I think, correct, that the new runway’s flight paths would largely affect people to the north of Twickenham, the knock-on effect appears to be that easterly take-offs from the existing runways could be more concentrated toward the south (as the planes can’t take off and head to the north where the new runway’s flight paths lie). That is pretty clear in the projections included in Heathrow’s own documents.
      On the flip side, if you look at the Airports Commission documents, it appears that Heathrow intends to rotate the runways being used during easterly operations (they currently only use the southern runway I believe). Perhaps that might mean some more periods of respite. Whatever, it will make it all a lot more complex during easterly operations as you will have various combinations of two runways being used simultaneously for departures, each with its own initial departure routes.
      Whatever, Heathrow’s noise projection maps (which largely show Twickenham to be ‘unchanged’ in terms of noise) should be taken with a colossal pich of salt, as the link Twickerman posted below makes clear.

    • A different David

      Suggest you look at documents F-01, F-02 and F-03 from this site – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/airports-commission-final-report-noise
      They show where the proposed easterly flight paths would be. It’s clear that all easterly take-offs from the existing two runways would head south, unlike the present arrangement. So while we may not have ‘new’ flight paths over our heads related to the new runway, we may have more planes following those flight paths.
      This is only on easterly departures. Arrivals on westerly operations don’t seem to touch Twickenham much (or at least the centre and west of it) – as at present.

    • David

      Thank you ‘other’ David, the link you provided was great, I’d not found that during my research. Thank you for moving the debate forwards.

      Based on F-01 & F-02 yes, it looks like we’ll still have flyovers over Twickenham on the DVR route but they will alternate between the South & Middle runways. I’ve no idea of the frequency, maybe that’s the question we need Heathrow to answer.

      Still all flights in those maps show the North runway takeoffs going North. The first 3 paths heading West, the other 3 heading East. Unless there is a weighting applied and more flights leave from the middle and South runways it doesn’t look like we have any new impact. What these maps fail to show is weighting for each path. How can we get that information?

    • Sally

      David. I am curious. You have popped up on this thread to post, a couple of times , that a third runway will not affect Twickenham,. You are keen to make that point. Are you speaking as anybody affected by the current flight path or potentially affected by starters of quarter or a million extra planes a year overhead? Do guaranteed vast increases in noise, pollution and risk to highly populated areas under flight paths not bother you ?
      Assuming not, you must realise that in this area we have very good cause not to believe any assertions from Heathrow, along the lines of “Let us build this and, honest, we will only use it in the following ways” .
      We have found out from bitter experience that such undertakings are not legally enforceable. Incidentally we know that the already often appalling noise levels over our heads bring Heathrow no disquiet, no negative consequences.. We are offered a complaint service . This allows Heathrow to explain that the reason we can hear planes roaring over our heads is because there are planes roaring over our heads. And they are are sorry that we are bothered by this. And goodbye. That is called empathy. And that is what we will get.

    • David

      Hi Sally,

      I own a home in central Twickenham just off Heath Road under the currrent flight path during Easterly operations. I have no affiliation to Heathrow either directly or indirectly. I fly for work 3 times a year as it’s my nearest airport. My only concern is whether the 3rd runway affects me or not. If it does I will actively campaign against it but so far I’ve read and heard much from local campaigners but found no evidence to suggest that there will be an increase in overhead flights in quite I find the opposite to be true. As such I’m agnostic towards the 3rd runway but I wanted to open up the debate to ensure that: 1 – my assumptions are correct; 2 – others locally understand the issues and can make a learned decision as to whether they support / oppose / agnostic towards 3rd runway.


    • Alexis

      “David” intrigues me, he claims to live just north of Heath Road in Twickenham, whereas I live just south of HR, so not a lot of difference in noise levels. Does he not remember the outburst from residents who‘s lives were blighted by the “trial” easterly take-off flight paths which took place a year or so ago? So much for Heathrow’s platitudes about the new generation of larger/fewer planes – the noise was dreadful, particularly from the low flying A380, supposedly the answer to all our concerns! What happened? They were forced to cut short the trial due to overwhelming complaints from desperate residents, many of whom, like the residents of Teddington had bought homes there to avoid the existing flight paths and were devastated to find they were also likely to be in the mire if Heathrow chose to reinstate the new flight paths, which they may well do.
      Given the false promises about T4, T5 and Runway3, who is prepared to take odds against a runway4 south of the A30? Remember it was always an option and has not been ruled out.
      I would be interested in “David’s” views on this prospect.
      PS: Not trolling you, just wondering why you are posting this pro ruinway3 stuff here – I’m intrigued.

    • David

      Actually I am also just South if HR. I also complained vociferously when the flight patterns changed. The simple fact is I look at the flight paths from a 3rd runway and they affect me no more than the flight paths from Gatwick as they all go North.

      The extra paths over East Twickenham & St Mags will happen if the planning permission is granted for the use of the 2nd runway over Cranford. Object to that if you don’t want that to happen but objecting to the 3rd runway is a wasted effort if the flights occur there anyway.

      Some people are opposed to an increase in flights full stop. Others champion the cause of others, I’m just pleased that the new runway will not effect me and the operation of the 2nd will benefit me as the planes will go over St Mags and East Twickenham providing central Twickenham with respite.

      So as a resident of Central Twickerman I’m all for sharing out the flights to ET & SMG if it means I get less. I’m also happy with a 3rd runway if they all go North. Some people will think that selfish, that’s fine by me, most people are.


    • Derek Jones

      these flights will increase pollution by 50%, if only half the flights have disembarking passengers (50% freight?) there is not the infrastructure to deal with them leaving and arriving the airport. If the majority flights through flights this only benefits BAA and it’s parent ( foreign owned) company, no real benefit for the UK.

  8. twickerman

    If you take a close look at your airportwatch map you’ll see that it shows flights from the middle runway taking-off over Twickenham (so much for the Cranford agreement).
    Equally disturbingly it shows new take-off paths over St Margarets, East.Twickenham and Richmond.

    Far from reducing the number of planes, as you predicted, it looks like the take-off noise belt is being significantly widened over the whole of Twickenham to accommodate the extra 50% of flights.

    • David

      The flights from the middle runway will happen if Heathrow gets planning permission to build the taxiways required. It’s currently with the planning inspectorate. This issue is independent from the 3rd runway decision.

      FACT: The 3rd runway flight paths will have zero effect on Twickenham, Richmond or anywhere else South of the new runway. Does anyone have a shred of evidence to the contrary please?

    • twickerman

      The airportwatch map of 3rd runway flightpaths clearly shows potential NEW takeoff flightpaths over parts of Twickenham that are currently unaffected.
      These new flightpaths extend from BOTH the existing runways (that will be the South and Central runways).
      This will massively increase noise pollution for the whole of Twickenham.

  9. A. Robot (Mrs)

    ‘ Ukip backs Zac’ and will not be fielding a candidate.
    That’ll be Brexit and open-to-racist-election-tactics Zac, not anti-Heathrow Zac as the flag-waving nose-breathers don’t believe in namby-pamby stuff like global warming, the environment, quality of life etc, believing that any negative consequences in that area can be quite adequately neutralised by the tranquilising effects of copious quantities of fine old British Stella Artois.
    I’m sure Zac will be grateful for their support(!)

    • anonymouse

      Never thought I’d agree with any UKIP policy, but hey ho, it appears they’re pro-Gatwick expansion.

      That’s obviously not a reason to vote for Zac.

      Anyone know the Lib Dem candidate’s view on airport expansion?

    • A. Robot (Mr)

      Apologies for Mrs Robot’s offensive reference to ‘nose-breathers’ above. She of course intended to write ‘mouth-breathers’.
      (I’ve had a word).

  10. David

    Is this really bad for Twickenham?

    Currently we are only overflown by planes taking off into Easterly winds (approx. 30% of the time). Due to the Cranford Agreement only the south runway is used for takeoffs during Easterly operations so 100% of flights take off towards Twickenham.

    The new runway will be to the North-West, the furthest location from Twickenham and we will not be directly affected by the flights from this runway. The overall increase in traffic will be 50% but since there will be 2 runways offering Easterly take-offs 100% more capacity. This means that if both runways service an equal number of flights overall we will see a reduction in flights taking off over Twickenham.

    So by my reckoning, we get a bigger Heathrow with all the growth that brings with it and a reduction in fights over Twickenham, is this really a bad thing? I for one think not.

  11. A. Robot (Mrs)

    Warriors of the Flaccid Thumb seem to be arguing their case as eloquently as usual, I see!

    • aristophanes

      Has it actually occurred to you that some people might genuinely not agree with what is said?

    • A. Robot (Mrs)

      If they did, Aristo, do you not think they owe it to themselves to form their disagreement into words rather than just registering some lazy and inarticulate limp response?

  12. Riverside Voter

    That not so nice Zac boy has resigned. Libdems have quite good odds of beating him in an election according to the bookies, especially if the Conservatives field an official candidate. Almost everyone around here is against Heathrow but there was a majority of 41000 for Remain in his constituency when he campaigned for Brexit and the racist overtones of his mayoral campaign will not have gone down well.

    At least our MP is standing up for her beliefs and supporting him in defiance of party rules. I cannot believe she found the citizen of nowhere comment, and it’s reception, comfortable given her humanitarian work. I am sure she appreciates a citizen of the world can also be a responsible member of and serve their local community

    Interesting times….

    • Labour voter

      Given the direness of current circumstances, Brexit etc, I suppose it would be too much to expect that, if the Tories don’t put up a candidate, Labour agrees not to field a candidate either and advises supporters to vote LibDem to stop the Tory Independent?

    • Riverside Voter

      I am afraid so, they have announced today that theair candidate is going to run. I am sure many of us would have liked to see more cross party working to address these serious issues.

    • Labour voter

      Then it’s up to Labour voters to reject the party’s stupidity and vote anti-Tory/anti-Independent Tory as so many sensibly did for Tonge and Kramer in the past. If Zac Goldsmith is right that the Heathrow 3rd runway is undeliverable and will never happen then he’s arguing himself out of a job. Without his anti-Heathrow activity he’s just an ineffectual pro-Brexit Tory with poor judgement in mayoral campaigns; and he’s a busted flush in his own party and so has little influence. There’s therefore little point in anti-Heathrow voters supporting him, and any Lib Dem candidate will have to present him/herself as strongly anti-Heathrow and anti-Brexit) anyway.


    • Ex-Twickenham Resident

      Zac is trying to make the EU referendum a non – issue. As the government cites brexit as a reason for the third runway then the referendum must be an issue in the campaign. Time for Richmond Park to make their voice heard. Zac must go!

    • Richmond Park constituent

      Tories have said they won’t be putting up a candidate. It’ll be amusing to see Tory big guns (do they still have such things?) wheeled out to support someone who’s just resigned from them and embarrassed Mother Theresa.
      Good opportunity for a combined LibDem/Labour/Green/Anti-Brexit vote to send a message to May and to reduce her majority (and put Richmond back on the political map at the same time).
      Get organising!

    • Ex-Twickenham Resident

      Indeed RPC. And now that Zac has become the de facto voice of ukip the 70% who voted Remain might not be too impressed.

    • See Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem candidate, interviewed by Andrew Neil on Daily Politics at 12:05: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b080xt7r/daily-politics-26102016 .
      Sarah lives in N Kingston and works at the NPL, Teddington, as an accountant. This is her first election.

  13. Sally

    What horrible news for us all.

    • whiteknight

      My word, a cunning plan worthy of (sir) baldrick!
      It seems that the so-called Liberal Democrat party has forgotten the meaning of the word “democrat”. Why cannot you accept that the Referendum showed that the people of the UK wished to leave the EU? Last time I noticed, this Borough was part of the UK; the vote must be respected, whether you or I like it or not. We accept results of General Elections; that is the democratic way of life.

  14. A. Robot (Mrs)

    Bags I drive the bulldozer!

  15. Ex-Twickenham Resident

    Heathrow means Heathrow!

    Let the fun begin…

  16. It benefits Heathrow’s owners to expand the airport. It surely benefits Britain more to distribute the load around the country? Especially if a significantly large porportion of passengers are transitioning to an onward flight anyway it seems to make little difference whether the airport is Heathrow or somewhere else.

  17. Undecided? Here’s the Line To Take:

    ‘Heathrow Expansion: A Risk Assessment’: Report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow and the Wider Economy

    Dr Tania Mathias, Chair of the APPG, said: “The proposal to expand Heathrow is as undeliverable now as it always has been, and it’s time we stopped wasting time trying to make it work. There is a growing consensus that we do need more airport capacity in the UK, but our analysis shows in the starkest terms that Heathrow cannot be the place to do it.

    “Ultimately, this is about deliverability. Heathrow’s costly proposal will get bogged down in legal disputes over air quality and noise and arguments over who has to pay for it. There are deliverable alternatives that do not face these insurmountable hurdles – let’s get on it with and consign Heathrow’s expansion plans to the dustbin of history.”

    The main reasons for supporting this scheme are the immense professional fees that consultants of all kinds can charge for working on it – or against it, it makes no odds. I expect the scheme to be authorised and to start, some years late, and to be ‘paused’ after some difficulties delay it and then finally to be abandoned in the middle ‘20s, along with HS2 and Hinckley C when brexit Britain finally goes broke and we discover we have joined the 3rd World. Creating a fresh round of fee-able work as consultants are called in to sort out them mess.

    • A.Robot (Mrs)

      That’s ok then. The airport expansion won’t ultimately take place but lovable old Boris, being the honourable man he is, will have been bulldozed into oblivion as promised. Win-win as they say.

    • Steve P

      I think that’s a pretty cogent analysis. Third runway will get the go ahead (just as it did in 2003 and 2009) because the govt likes to posture about taking big difficult decisions. It will go into planning hell and never come out and perhaps Gatwick will build its own runway in the meantime. I mean come on – just the M25 bridge/tunnel/brunnel? is unachievable on it’s own.

  18. A.Robot (Mrs)

    That nice Zac boy resigning and the loathsome Johnson offering to be bulldozed into history?
    Come on, what’s a little bit of noise and air pollution compared with that?