The Teddington Action Group “TAG” was formed in November 2014 after 7,000 people signed a petition initiated by the local community website Teddington Town following a consultation meeting on the easterly departure trials which had been carried out in summer and autumn 2014 (these trials were terminated early in the face of massive public opposition). Our membership consists of residents concerned about the increase in flight noise in Teddington, Twickenham, Hampton and surrounding areas.
TAG opposes the expansion of Heathrow and has made extensive submissions to the Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies. We have been to specialist counsel and have had a high profile in the national press.
TAG is also heavily involved in tackling Heathrow on its increased noise from aircraft departing to the east and the alteration of the flight patterns. Recently Natasha Fletcher featured in the ITV program “Tonight” on Noise on the 11th September 2015. TAG’s complaints about Heathrow are:
- Heathrow has altered the flight paths in and out of Heathrow, thus altering the use of air space, without going through the required notice and consultation process. In addition Heathrow has not minimized noise from planes below 4,000’ as required by the Government’s Guidance of January 2014
- Heathrow has made untrue statements and withheld information that cover up these alterations and lack of observance of the Guidance
- The residents and communities around Heathrow have been cheated out of their rights to have and participate in the required consultation process
- Heathrow have not properly investigated most complaints about noise from residents, many are simply auto loaded onto their Salesforce system and result in a standard automated response
- As a result of this the residents around Heathrow have suffered enormous increases in noise around them that is damaging to health and mental stability.
The Government wants to update UK airspace. Airports including Heathrow are being tasked with modernising their airspace and redrawing flightpaths for the first time in 60 years. The desire is to enable airplanes to navigate more accurately and operate more efficiently for the good of everyone: passengers, airlines and neighbouring communities.
During the recent trials, whenever Heathrow were on ‘Easterly Operations’, residents in Teddington and surrounding areas were subjected to prolonged periods of loud, frequent planes over head. During the summer of 2014 this lasted for weeks. Planes started in the early hours of the morning and continued late into the night. At its peak, there were around 142 planes taking off over the area every day, one every two minutes. Not surprisingly residents found this unbearable. The noise took its toll on our quality of life, health and wellbeing. Sleep and children’s education were affected. You can read more about the effects of the trials here.
Although the trials have temporarily ended, many residents feel that plane frequency, their height and noise have not returned to pre-trial levels. This has been echoed by various communities around Heathrow but denied by Heathrow with some supporting evidence.
So why did Heathrow start the trials?
The trials were designed to keep aircraft on more precise routes, so there would be less planes flying over a wide area. By channelling planes into concentrated flight paths, Heathrow say less people would be affected by aircraft noise and they would have more contingency in their flight schedules to better manage delays.
When aircraft are departing to the East of Heathrow there are usually 6 departure routes (see map below). During the trials two of these routes were merged into one over Teddington, which lead to a massive increase in noise for residents. In addition to the routes merging, there was also an increase in concentration of planes on the route. Planes flying the normal pre-trial routes may stray from the centre of the flight path over a wide area, but during the trials they used more precise radar-based navigation equipment, which kept planes in the centre of the route. Residents were subjected to, not only more planes, but also more frequent planes.
One day’s flight trails before and during the 2014 departure trials
Heathrow maintain that they weren’t testing flight paths with a view to necessarily having that route over Teddington, they say on their website “what you experienced during the trials is not indicative of how Heathrow’s final airspace will look or sound.” However they cannot guarantee that Teddington will NOT end up with concentrated flight paths over the area, even with noise respite.
Teddington Action Group will continue to campaign to make it clear how unreasonable the effects were until Heathrow guarantee that the trials of 2014 will NOT become a permanent fixture over the skies of Teddington.
What The Future Holds
By 2020 air traffic control navigation of airspace in Britain will be completely modernised – the new flight paths have not been decided and will be put up for public consultation, ultimately to be decided by the government.
The disturbance caused by recent trials has woken us up to the fact that this could be the shape of things to come. We are not anti-Heathrow and welcome the existing benefits and convenience it provides local communities but we don’t want radical changes to impact our community. We want to happily co-exist with Heathrow, as we were pre-trial.
In 2015, the Airport Commission led by Sir Howard Davies will gathering evidence from the public to make his final decision on Heathrow Expansion, that will be published after the election.
If Heathrow expands it will operate over 260,000 more flights annually and this combined with the airspace modernisation and concentration of flight paths, means we will suffer from an array of issues, more of which can be read about on our effects page.
We say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The prospect of a 54% increase in flights annually over a densely populated area combined with it’s associated environmental cost is not an acceptable price to pay. Heathrow maintains that if it doesn’t expand it will shrink and jobs will be lost but this is pure conjecture. However, the environmental and health impact of increased noise and air pollution IS proven. The negative effects on people and their everyday lives will FAR out weigh any financial benefits of Heathrow Expansion.
Potential effect of a third runway at Heathrow. Source: HACAN.