For those who are disturbed by Heathrow operations and remain silent, Heathrow is unfortunately using this ‘silence,’ or lack of complaints as proof that the number of people bothered is on the decline. They also claim that there are only a few complainers, and therefore are able to argue that their environmental footprint is improving. This spin on complaints is used in their PR campaigns and for lobbying the government. The more of us who complain regularly will make it impossible for Heathrow to use those suffering in silence to their advantage.
We must also complain EACH time we are disturbed!
It is often said that there is no point in complaining to Heathrow about their operational noise and pollution as it doesn’t change anything and they aren’t listening! We do have to agree with the NOT listening part (see TAG’s HCNF blog here) but there is a point to registering your complaints each time you are disturbed.
How to complain
You may complain about Heathrow operations via phone or email, however they do not register tweets.
There is information on Heathrow’s website on how to complain here.
We also suggest you copy your MPs, Councillors, the CAA, NATS and anyone else that you believe should be made aware that Heathrow operations are significantly affecting people on the ground. This includes noise and the pollution of the air we breathe.
Once you draft an email, you can use this as a template each time that you want to make a complaint. Complaints do not have to be detailed but must contain your contact information, including postal address, to be counted.
Webtrak is a community tool provided by Heathrow to allow tracking of flights in and out of Heathrow.
This tool was recently updated so that there is now only a 20 minute delay between a flight occurrence and its information being available. Webtrak also allows you to log a complaint straight to Heathrow from within the application once you have selected the flight disturbing you.
The are several free applications that can be used to track flights and measure noise:
Flight Radar 24
FlightRadar24 which allows you to track flights real time and to log a complaint from within the app. While tracking flights, select the plane disturbing you to see details and you will also see an icon which enables the sharing of flight information.
Logging a complaint in this way allows you to easily include details of a specific flight disturbing you and only requires that you add your contact information and email recipients before sending.
FlightAware.com allows you capture both the trajectory and speed of planes. The difference between the two is that FlightAware provides historical information of the planes. This is useful if you want to provide information on the altitude and speed of activity from an airport over time.
WideNoisePlus is an app that allows you to accurately record the decibel levels over a short period. This is really useful for recording any noise that you experience. Further, if you register it will also allow you to view other moments of noise within your area by viewing on a map.
Subject access request
If you are interested in finding out exactly what Heathrow have done with your complaints, you may register a Subject Access Request with them. Details on this process are located here. Your letter should be addressed to the Heathrow Data Protection Manager and details on this individual can be found online.
A template letter is shown below.
Community Relations Team
Second Floor South
The Compass Centre
London Heathrow Airport
Hounslow TW6 2GW
Dear IA Officer:,
This is a subject access request for information Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (HAL) hold about me filed under the Data Protection Act. I request that you provide me with all documents containing information regarding any complaints that I have made to HAL by phone or email in the calendar year between (insert date range) or any documents that you hold that include details related to me, my email address ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and / or my home address which is as indicated above.
Specifically, please provide:
- Any information used by HAL to identify or distinguish me or my home from others of the same or similar name or location
- Any inferred or computed data related to my complaints / my name / my email address/ my home address including any categorization that HAL may have applied to me, my data or my complaints
- For each complaint reference number assigned to my complaints by Heathrow Noise, please confirm if each has been counted as a legitimate complaint and included in published complaint numbers released by HAL to the public
- For each of my HAL complaint reference numbers not considered or counted as a legitimate complaint, please provide the reason for discounting / invalidating each complaint.
- An explanation of any terms relevant to HAL complaint classifications or analysis of the data held on me or how my complaints are classified or labelled by HAL.
- Details on any organization outside of HAL that have been provided with any of my personal data by HAL.
Please notify me if there is a fee associated with this request and include details of how payment should be made. If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the items of information that you hold related to me directly by name, by email address or by my home address and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under UK / EU law.
Thank you for considering my request.