Good news for fans of consultation exercises which are likely to get ignored by those who instigate them. Heathrow Airport is currently running a ‘Heathrow Airspace and Future Operations Consultation’ until March 4th. Apparently they’re interested in your views! Topic covered are ‘airspace change’ covering both the current two runways and the planned expansion to three; noise; respite; directional preference; and, night flights. The usual stuff in other words. You can even check your postcode and see how you might be affected. If you can actually work out anything sensible from the flights and heights you’re doing well. One priority is to reduce the stacking of flights waiting to land. Noble indeed. New technology and more ‘efficient’ runway use are being proposed to allow for greater throughput.
There are animations to illustrate planes flying around, taking off and landing and a lot of detail on scenarios such as whether you like your noise in big long chunks or in smaller but more regular doses. Noise is something that Heathrow says it’s committed to working on… in a way that is cost efficient and which takes account of national as well as local considerations. One point to note is that the airport says it is committed to noise levels not exceeding those of 2013. Someone better qualified than us may know how that is measured, over what area ,etc but that noise limit sounds like an ambitious ‘ask’ when set against a background of what could be an extra 25,000 flights per year even before any third runway is built. And for context, that third runway is expected to add up to 260,000 additional flights per year.
Heathrow Airport plays a very important part in the local economy, as well as being important to the UK as a whole. Richmond and other councils (as well as most residents) recognise this and are calling for a ‘better’ Heathrow rather than just a bigger one. This consultation might be a way for you to have a teeny, tiny say on how things develop – and you might well end up with bigger and better – although if you’re expecting ‘fewer planes please’ to feature in any of the questions, don’t hold your breath.
There are also ‘consultation events’ taking place in the area with the nearest local one being at York House, Twickenham on 13th February from 2pm to 8pm.