Residents fight against ‘noisy neighbour’ RAF Northolt over changed flight path
South Ruislip residents are desperately calling on recently-elected MP Boris Johnson to get RAF Northolt to stop allowing planes to fly over their houses. A local resident has collected over 520 signatures,asking that the planes and helicopters stick to the designated flight path. People know for certain that aircraft are flying over areas they did not fly over before. RAF Northolt is said to use one runway with a designated flight path but residents who signed the petition regularly see planes taking off over their houses. In 2013, the decision to keep RAF Northolt as a military airfield included an instruction from defence ministers that it should aim to increase its revenue from commercial aircraft. The increase was set to rise from 7,000 flight movements, taking off or landing, to 12,000 a year. But an RAF spokesman admitted: “Military and government movements are uncapped but expect to remain constant with the total number of movements in 2016 not expecting to exceed 17,500.” Not the 12,000. John Stewart (HACAN) said the “flight paths seem to have changed without any thought of the impact of local communities.” Residents say they have not been listened to by Northolt in the past and a letter to them was “dumped in the bin.” They hope Boris will step in and do something.
Residents fight against ‘noisy neighbour’ RAF Northolt
17.6.2015 (Get West London)
South Ruislip residents believe planes from the military airbase are deviating from the set flight path
South Ruislip residents are desperately calling on recently-elected MP Boris Johnson to halt flights from RAF Northolt flying over their houses.
Retired electrician Douglas Lewington, of Mahlon Avenue, has collected more than 500 signatures in a bid to ensure aeroplanes and helicopters stick to the designated flight path.
He said: “I’m prepared to go to court and swear that planes and helicopters are flying over our houses in South Ruislip. 523 people have agreed that RAF Northolt are not sticking to flight path.
“If they’re sticking to their flight path as they’re supposed to, they cannot fly over Mahlon Avenue.
“If they’re flying over our houses, which they are, they’re not sticking to the flight path and that’s all our argument’s been about.
“We’ve been up and stood on the flight path but little did we know they’ve got cameras so they can see us standing there and so then they take off on the proper flight path.”
RAF Northolt is said to use one runway with a designated flight path but residents who signed the petition regularly see planes taking off over their houses.
Mr Lewington, 78, started the fight against the military airfield five years ago. Since then, the number of flights has been steadily increasing.
In 2013, the decision to keep RAF Northolt as a military airfield included an instruction from defence ministers that the base should aim to increase its revenue from commercial aircraft.
The increase was set to rise from 7,000 flight movements, taking off or landing, to 12,000 a year.
However, according to an RAF spokesman: “Military and government movements are uncapped but expect to remain constant with the total number of movements in 2016 not expecting to exceed 17,500.”
The increase in the number of flights has raised concerns locally about the levels of noise and air pollution.
John Stewart, Chair of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), showed concern for the rising number of flights.
He said: “RAF Northolt has become a noisy, useless neighbour. This has only happened because flight paths seem to have changed without any thought of the impact of local communities.
“The result of this could be increased noise pollution, particularly with local schools means more noise for local communities.”
Mr Lewington, who has sent numerous letters, attended residents’ associations and had the support of previous Uxbridge & South Ruislip MP, John Randall, now sees new hope that Boris Johnson will help fight his corner.
He said: “We sent our petition to Wing Commander Willis, who’s now left RAF Northolt. I got a letter from Allan Kauffman, our councillor, after we complained to him which went to Mr Willis who then threw it in the bin. He dumped it.
“I met Boris Johnson at his surgery and spoke to him about the amount of flights there are here and I think he’s definitely going to get involved.”
High Court decision that RAF Northolt must have same safety standards for private jets as civilian airports
A legal judgement, brought by rival airports (Oxford and Biggin Hill) against RAF Northolt, says the CAA is the statutory regulator required to determine safety standards for civilian aircraft using government owned military aerodromes. This means Northolt will have to meet higher safety standards for business jets than those in place for military flights, and this will be expensive for them. As the number of military flights has fallen from Northolt, there have been more business jets – up to a total of 12,000 per year. The trigger for the current proceedings came in April 2012 when the MOD decided to increase the limit on civil flights at RAF Northolt from 7,000 to 12,000 movements. Ministers had repeatedly argued before that they didn’t need to meet stricter, costlier civilian safety standards and the CAA had no regulatory powers at military aerodromes. This meant that smaller private airports reliant on business jets were being significantly undermined, as RAF Northolt became a competitor without incurring the higher costs of complying with civilian safety standards. Although the arguments in the case have been about the application of safety standards, the motivation for the challenge is the claimant airports’ commercial interests as competitors.
Heathrow funded report suggests using RAF Northolt as an interim 3rd runway for domestic flights
Heathrow airport set up and funds a body called the “National Connectivity Task Force” (NCTF). This produced a report in March, looking at regional connectivity – and putting arguments that suit Heathrow. (Gatwick airport, unsurprisingly strongly disagrees with it). As well as saying how important links to regional airports are from Heathrow, though these have progressively been cut as long haul flights are more profitable, the NCTF report says RAF Northolt airport, just a few miles north of Heathrow, should be used as an extension to Heathrow, for smaller planes to regional airports. As this news broke about the same time as the Germanwings plane tragedy, it did not get press attention. What Heathrow wants is to have Northolt brought into service, as an interim measure, before it can get a new runway. If Gatwick was chosen for a runway, Heathrow could use Northolt for domestic flights it has been promising regional airports, in order to get their backing for a Heathrow runway. Heathrow says the Northolt runway could not be used at the same time as a Heathrow north-west runway. RAF Northolt does not comply with the safety standards required for a civilian airport. Its runway ends just short of the busy A40.