A year in the life of Teddington Action Group and our priorities for 2016
- November 2015 saw the first anniversary of TAG’s inception and it seems pertinent to reflect on why the group was created. The lovely Natasha Fletcher and a few like-minded folk created TAG following a public meeting in Teddington in response to the flight path trials over our area, which took place in the summer of 2014. The trials were in effect, our area experiencing the concentration of flight paths, which is causing uproar in the UK for residents around London City and Gatwick airports where it has been implemented without consultation. The Teddington trials were stopped early following a public outcry when 7,000 local residents signed a petition in protest against them, but there is a risk that they could be implemented on a permanent basis at some point. TAG has joined forces with community groups across the UK to lobby the Government to re-think its aviation strategy around concentration and introduce greater consultation and safeguards for communities living around airports.
- Other notable achievements by TAG in its first year have included:
Giving Teddington, Twickenham and surrounding communities a “voice” on aviation noise and air pollution issues through:
- Working closely with local MP Tania Mathias to raise awareness of the issues affecting Teddington, Twickenham and the surrounding areas. Tania has mentioned TAG on several occasions in parliamentary debates on aviation issues and we have also provided information to Zac Goldsmith MP.
- Lobbying the leader of Richmond Council and the Director of Public Health (plus the Mayor of London and the GLA) to raise awareness of our community’s concerns about the noise and associated health impacts of Heathrow.
- Raising awareness amongst local residents of the threat of a third runway, which resulted in several hundred responses from our area to the Airport’s Commission’s public consultation in January/February 2015.
- Ensuring that Teddington and the surrounding areas were well represented at the anti-third runway rally in Parliament Square on 10 October.
Lobbying Heathrow Airport, the Department for Transport and other national bodies with responsibility or an interest in aviation
- TAG members submitted a number of detailed responses in February 2015 to the Airports Commission’s consultation on the short-listed options for additional runway capacity in SE England.
- Members responded to a consultation in the summer on the way that the Civil Aviation Authority handles airspace changes. The report was published in December and showed widespread criticism and mistrust of the current system.
- TAG members also made detailed submissions to the Environmental Audit Committee (an all-party parliamentary committee) highlighting fundamental flaws with the way that aviation noise is currently measured. Two members’ evidence were quoted in the Committee’s final report, published in December 2015.
Obtaining information not in the public domain, which demonstrates the extent and scale of the threat our community faces from worsening plane noise and pollution
- Successfully lobbying Heathrow to fund an independent study of the noise issues in Teddington and Twickenham, which has shown that planes over our area are lower and louder than ever before.
- Submitting a number of Freedom of Information requests to the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to obtain information that they will not readily provide.
- Several TAG members have had noise and air pollution monitors installed in their gardens as part of the ‘Breathe Heathrow’ project to measure local noise and pollution levels.
Achieving widespread social and national/local media coverage of aviation-related issues
- June 2015: There was comprehensive national media coverage (including coverage on the front page of the Business Section of The Daily Telegraph) of our pre-judicial review action against the Airports Commission, which questioned the independence of the Commission’s Chair (as covered by an article in The Guardian) and argued that the Commission’s air quality consultation was inadequate.
- Sep 2015: Writing to all headteachers in London to highlight the adverse effects of aviation noise on children’s sleep, memory, concentration and reading levels. This attracted coverage in both The Times and The Evening Standard.
- October 2015: Securing an article in The Guardian about Teddington/Twickenham experiencing higher levels of noise disruption from London Heathrow.
- Communicating key facts and counteracting Back Heathrow propaganda via our amazing media team’s posters and twitter/facebook presence.
- Finally, with the Government’s announcement in December that it was to delay its decision on airport expansion until the summer, TAG will continue its work to demonstrate that further expansion at Heathrow is the wrong decision on a number of levels. Remember, expansion will mean a 54% increase in the number of flights plus existing periods of respite from plane noise halved.
- TAG’s priorities for 2016 are therefore to:
- continue to lobby against Heathrow expansion and all the associated noise and environmental air pollution problems this will bring;
- ensure that Heathrow Airport and the airlines take action to return current noise levels and patterns to more tolerable, pre-2011 levels;
- continue to campaign for a better measurement of noise, which moves away from the averaging of noise events which does not reflect communities’ true annoyance levels; and
- work with community groups across the UK to convince the Government to i) change its current policy of concentrating flight paths to a policy of dispersal over a wider area, thus spreading the load to ensure a tolerable level of noise for all communities; and ii) ensure that local communities are consulted and the impact on them considered, before any changes are made which could result in increased aircraft noise and pollution.
REMEMBER TO COMPLAIN TO HEATHROW AIRPORT EACH AND EVERY TIME THAT YOU ARE BOTHERED BY AIRCRAFT NOISE. IT ONLY TAKES A FEW SECONDS IF YOU EMAIL YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS TO firstname.lastname@example.org AND WRITE “NOISE COMPLAINT” IN THE EMAIL TITLE. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND ON OUR WEBSITE HERE.