Thursday, 16 October 2014

Update on Heathrow Flight Trials affecting East Molesey and Walton

Today, I met with senior officials from Heathrow and NATS (ie UK traffic control), pursuant to the many concerns raised by residents in East Molesey and Walton about the new flight path trials from Heathrow. I blogged about the issue, following my local public meeting in Molesey on 24th September, here.

We had a productive meeting at which Heathrow expressed regret about the level of noise experienced by our local community. I fed in the scale and scope of concerns expressed to me in correspondence, and at the local meeting on the 24th September.

The key points I can now feed back to the local community include:
  • The trials over Molesey and Walton will finish no later than 12 November, possibly earlier.
  • When trials re-commence in October 2015, there may be other paths tested in the borough, but it is highly unlikely we'd see the same level of concentration along the same path as felt recently. Heathrow and NATS were at pains to convey that they had heard loud and clear - and appreciated - the level of concern felt locally.
  • The reason these trials are being conducted is to design a new system that takes advantage of satellite technology to run flights on a tighter line in and out of airports. This new system is being tried and tested across all our airports, and indeed across the world. The potential gains from the new system include: better use of airspace, less emissions, less noise pollution for residents (because flights ascend quicker), and fewer bottlenecks on the ground.
  • These trials would be going on whether or not there was ongoing debate about the 3rd runway at Heathrow. So, this is not some softening up exercise as a precursor to a 'done deal' on airport expansion at Heathrow.
  • Heathrow, government officials and Ministers are now increasingly conscious - and data from these trials has reinforced the view - that it is unfair to concentrate flights (and noise) too heavily along one very narrow path. Whilst it may minimise the number of residents affected, it maximises the noise pollution they are subject to.
  • The new system will be designed using data from all of the regional trials, and put in place by 2020. Before then, it will be subject to local consultation and approval will be required from the Secretary of State for Transport. So, the democratic process will ensure local views on the future proposals are properly fed in.
I appreciate the disruption and anxiety caused by the recent trials. However, I hope residents can now feel reassured that their concerns have been heard, and that we won't see a return to anything like those noise levels along this route. Long term, the aim of the new system is to reduce overall noise pollution, recognising the legitimate concerns of the neighbourhoods beneath the flight paths. Of course, if anyone has further concerns, please just drop me a line.


T said...

What noise? Who remembers Concorde...

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