Heathrow bid to end Cranford Agreement – allowing easterly take-offs from northern runway – is rejected by Hillingdon Council
The Cranford Agreement was a binding commitment the UK government made in 1952 to the residents of Cranford to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents. It prohibits, under normal Heathrow Airport operations, easterly take-offs (i.e. towards central London) on the northern runway. In January 2009, the government announced it was ending the Agreement (as part of consultations on a proposed Third Runway). In September 2010 the current UK government reaffirmed the decision to end the Cranford Agreement. A planning application by Heathrow airport in June 2013 concerns the creation of taxiways on the Northern Runway, required to enable the practical implementation of the ending of the Agreement as well as consideration of the associated environmental impacts. It also included the erection of a 5m high noise barrier around parts of the village of Longford. This application has now been unanimously rejected by Hillingdon Council – which means Heathrow will not be able to have regular departures to the east from the northern runway. This preserves the 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement protecting Cranford residents from the noise. The downside is that people living in Windsor and Maidenhead continue to endure more landings. Heathrow is considering whether to appeal.
Heathrow bid to end Cranford Agreement is rejected
Heathrow has been refused planning permission for the works needed to enable regular departures over Cranford .
In a major set-back for the airport, councillors on Hillingdon Council’s major applications planning committee last night unanimously rejected its application.
It means people living in Cranford will not have to put up with planes taking off overhead for now , preserving in practice at least a 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement protecting them from the noise.
However, the decision will dismay people to the west of the northern runway, in Windsor and Maidenhead, who have to endure more landings because regular take-offs over Cranford are not possible.
The airport had applied to Hillingdon Council for permission to create new taxi-ways and carry out other ground work needed so planes could depart regularly over Cranford.
Only a relatively small number of planes have taken off over the village since a 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement was ended in 2009, but this work would have enabled about 35,000 planes a year to do so. However, it would have not allowed an increase in annual flights above the current cap of 480,000.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “We know noise is an issue for communities under Heathrow’s flight path which is why we encourage airlines to fly their quietest aircraft into Heathrow by charging airlines more for noisier aircraft and have schemes to insulate local schools and homes.
“We are disappointed Hillingdon Council has chosen to reject our planning proposal which would mean noise being more evenly distributed between our neighbours. We will be looking into this decision in more detail before deciding whether to appeal.” [ie. Heathrow trying to make Hilllingdon take the blame for the aircraft noise caused by Heathrow].
Councillors were partly swayed by a letter from Judy Matthews, chair of governors at Cranford Primary School, which lies under the flight path and is already affected by the noise of planes arriving at the airport.
She wrote: “With the Cranford Agreement coming to an end we are extremely concerned about the detrimental effect that the change in the alterations of the northern runway will have on our pupils.
“The proposed changes mean that in future the school will be exposed to the noise from departing aircraft. When this is happening the noise will be worse than currently experienced.”
They were also concerned about recent statistics highlighted at the meeting, showing the borough of Hillingdon has seen the highest increase in England in the percentage of deaths attributable to air pollution.
Labour councillor Janet Duncan said: “I was concerned to read the letter from the school. Children’s concentration at school is negatively affected by air craft noise.
“We know that deaths caused by air pollution here is the worst in the country, so we cannot in all consciousness do anything to increase that.”
The press mentioned that Heathrow said they would mitigate the effects for schools and community buildings.However, it seems possible that by Heathrow’s definition of the “significance” of the noise changes, nothing would qualify for remedial work.
Heathrow’s plans to end 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement over Cranford could be prevented by Hillingdon Council
24..6.2013 (Hillingdon Borough Council)
Planning application for the practical ending of the Cranford Agreement
Have your say on the current planning application for Heathrow Airport for the proposed creation of additional taxiways to serve the Northern Runway.
The Cranford Agreement was a binding commitment the UK government made in 1952 to the residents of Cranford to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents. It prohibits, under normal Heathrow Airport operations, easterly airplane take-offs (i.e. towards central London) on the northern runway.
On 15 January 2009, the then UK government announced that it was ending the Cranford Agreement (as part of consultations on a proposed Third Runway). In September 2010 the current UK government reaffirmed the decision to end the Cranford Agreement.
What is the planning application about?
This current planning application does not concern the ending of the Cranford Agreement, which has already been determined and decided at national government level.
The application concerns the physical measures at Heathrow Airport, principally the creation of taxiways on the Northern Runway, required to enable the practical implementation of the ending of the Cranford Agreement as well as consideration of the associated environmental impacts. The planning application also includes the erection of a 5m high noise barrier around parts of the village of Longford.
The planning application and your comments
View full details of the proposals, including plans and you can submit any comments in relation to this application.
When the government made the decision in 2010 to end the Cranford Agreement it stated that Heathrow Airport Limited was to provide proper consideration to mitigation and financial compensation for those likely to be affected by the proposal. Mitigation measures are outlined in the planning application submission.
Information about possible compensation is available at the Heathrow website or you can call the airport’s Heathrow Community Relations Team on 0800 344844.
It should be noted that any questions regarding compensation payments should not be directed to Hillingdon Council. Hillingdon Council will not respond to queries regarding compensation payments (except to re-direct such queries to Heathrow Airport Limited).
Below is the information about the Cranford agreement, from the Heathrow airport website (Dated June 2013). See below that for the webpage content by October 2014:
The Cranford Agreement
What is the Cranford Agreement? – Updated June 2013
The Cranford Agreement is a government agreement made in the 1950s that prevents aircraft from taking off over Cranford from Heathrow’s northern runway when the airport is operating on what’s known as ‘easterly operations’.
Easterly operations occur when the wind blows from the east. Since aircraft always land and take off into the wind, they come in to land from the west (from Windsor) and take off towards the east (towards London) when the wind blows from the east. On average, easterly operations occur 30% of the year, although the proportion of easterly winds vary month to month.
The Cranford Agreement specifies that departures cannot take off on the northern runway during easterly operations. This means the majority of arriving flights land on the northern runway, and departing flights leave from the southern runway.
What does the Cranford Agreement mean for Heathrow’s neighbours?
By favouring one particular community, the Cranford Agreement prevents a more even distribution of aircraft noise around Heathrow. When the wind blows from the east, people who live under the flight path of the southern runway bear the brunt of the noise of departing aircraft. Those living under the approach to the northern runway also get a disproportionate amount of noise from arrivals.
The situation is different when the wind blows from the west, known as ‘westerly operations’. Because there are no restrictions, we share the noise of arriving and departing flights equally between the northern and southern runways.
This is done by using one runway for landings and the other for departures, and then swapping over halfway through the day. ‘Runway alternation’, as it is known, gives residents living under both runway flight paths predictable relief from aircraft noise for half the day.
Although the Cranford Agreement provides relief for residents of Cranford when the wind blows from the east, residents of other areas such as Windsor and the southern parts of Hounslow, get no respite from aircraft noise.
The ending of the Cranford Agreement – what happens next?
Aircraft technology has moved on since the Cranford Agreement was drawn up in the 1950s. During take-off, modern aircraft climb higher more quickly. The noise they make is less disruptive to the residents of Cranford than it would have been 60 years ago.
In 2008, the previous government asked residents whether the Cranford Agreement should stay or be abolished.In response to feedback, it announced that the Cranford Agreement would end in 2009. The decision was confirmed by the current government in September 2010.
With the Cranford Agreement gone, we can apply runway alternation throughout the year, no matter which direction the wind blows. But we can’t do it straight away. Because Heathrow has developed within the context of the Cranford Agreement, it’s not yet geared up to full-time runway alternation. There are too few access taxiways to the northern runway and too few exit taxiways from the southern runway.
To operate runway alternation efficiently, we first have to make changes to Heathrow’s taxiways. The building of these taxiways requires planning approval from the London Borough of Hillingdon. We submitted our planning application in May 2013.
What will the ending of the Cranford Agreement mean for Heathrow’s neighbours?
Operating runway alternation when the wind blows from the east as well as from the west means we can share the burden of arriving and departing aircraft noise fairly between our neighbours. We can use one runway for take-offs and the other for landings, then swap them over at 3pm each day.
The ending of the Cranford Agreement does not mean there will be more flights to and from Heathrow. The total number of flights remains the same.
This is what the changes mean for residents. This will only apply when the wind is from the east (approx 30% of the year).
- Cranford/Heston: introduction of departures from the northern runway taking off towards the east
- North Feltham/ southern parts of Hounslow: around 50% fewer departing aircraft using the southern runway to take off towards the east
- Wraysbury/Old Windsor: more arriving flights using the southern runway from the west
- Windsor/Datchet: around 50% fewer arriving aircraft using the northern runway from the west.
Mitigating the effects of the changes
For the majority the ending of the Cranford Agreement will mean less noise from aircraft. For the minority it will mean more. The map opposite shows the difference in noise that various communities will experience when we introduce full runway alternation (when the wind blows from the east). The areas shaded green will see an overall decrease in noise. Those shaded blue will see a small increase in noise.
As part of our taxiway planning application, we have suggested ways that we can mitigate the effects on residents most affected by changes in operations. This includes the building of a five-metre high acoustic noise barrier at Longford. We’re also proposing to provide free double glazing for residents living within a specified zone (known as the 63 decibel leq) who experience an increase in noise of three decibels or more. This is marked as Zone 1 on the map (the dark purple line).
Heathrow website at http://www.heathrowairport.com/noise/heathrow-operations/impact-of-existing-agreements on the Cranford Agreement, by October 2014:
Runway alternation is an effective way to spread the impact of airport noise across local communities. Switching departures and landings from one runway to the other part way through the day helps ensure that the noise is shared across different communities each day. But because of our agreement with the local residents of Cranford, we are not currently able to offer full runway alternation when the airport is on easterly operations.
Heathrow wants to end the Cranford Agreement and the government has agreed. But before the change can take effect, we must add new taxiways to both runways.
What is the Cranford Agreement?
The Cranford Agreement was established in the 1950s. It prevented planes from taking off over the village of Cranford, which is at the eastern end of the northern runway. The Cranford Agreement only applies when Heathrow is on easterly operations.
Heathrow switches to easterly operations when the wind is blowing from the east – which it does about 30% of the time. Because planes must take off and land into the wind, when easterly operations are in effect, planes approach Heathrow over Windsor to the west, and take off towards London. So because of the Cranford Agreement, most flights arrive on the northern runway and take off from the southern runway.
The agreement favours residents of Cranford at the expense of other communities such as Windsor and southern parts of Hounslow. Ending the Cranford Agreement will allow Heathrow to apply full runway alternation regardless of the wind direction, which is fairer to local residents overall.
Ending the Cranford Agreement
In 2008, the government consulted with local residents about the Cranford Agreement. After reviewing the results of the consultation, they announced that the agreement should end in 2009.
However, because Heathrow’s infrastructure developed in the context of the Cranford Agreement, it is not yet capable of full time runway alternation. This is because there are currently too few access taxiways to the northern runway and two few exit taxiways from the southern runway.
We need planning approval to build new taxiways, but the London Borough of Hillingdon has rejected our planning application. We are currently appealing this decision.
Impact on residents
For most local residents, ending the Cranford Agreement will mean less noise (for the 30% of the time we operate on easterlies), but for a minority it will mean more.
We have plans that will mitigate the increase in noise. These include building a 5-metre high acoustic noise barrier at Longford, and offering double-glazing to those residents most affected by the change.