Government allows ending of Cranford Agreement, so Heathrow planes can take off to the east from north runway
On 2nd February, later in the day after the announcements on the NPS and the airspace consultation, the DfT added news that the government has agreed to end the Cranford Agreement. This would have been a major announcement in itself, but craftily buried with the other news. The Cranford Agreement was an undertaking, set up about 60 years ago, that planes taking off towards the east would only use the southern runway, not the northern runway. This protects people in Cranford from appalling noise. The ending of the agreement means less noise from arrivals (when the airport is on easterlies – about 30% of the year) from the west – so places like Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle – under the northern runway approach path – could have half as many arrivals per day (around 330 rather than 630). But areas like Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Stanwell Moor could see the number of arrivals on easterlies from 26 to 328 a day (on the southern runway). For take offs, areas south west of the southern runway will see fewer planes, but areas north east of the northern runway will have more planes. It is likely some people in the very noisiest areas might be able to get some insulation from Heathrow, but not a lot. There are also implications for the distribution of air pollution from the planes. A condition of the planning permission gives Heathrow three years to enact the new infrastructure to implement the changes.
Government scraps Cranford Agreement … finally!
by Colnbrook Info
3 FEBRUARY, 2017
Put aside the two consultations announced yesterday by the Government on airport expansion and airspace policy. Far more important news was quietly released later in the day with a more immediate impact on local residents around Heathrow – and for those in Colnbrook it is very good news indeed.
Yesterday really was a good day to bury difficult news. [The document is here “The Inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed and planning permission granted.” The document is 284 pages.]
With the Brexit strategy dominating column inches, the draft National Policy Statement on Heathrow expansion or the review of airspace was never going to get much coverage. But, later in the day, the Government bolted another key announcement onto the same Department of Transport press release – once, which, on any other day, would have been a significant story in its own right. [It was added onto the bottom of this DfT webpage https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-step-forward-in-building-a-global-britain-as-public-has-its-say-on-airport-expansion ]
It has finally decided to tear up the Cranford Agreement.
Impact of full runway alternation changes: the green areas will see a decrease in noise while blue will see an increase.
Officially, Gordon Brown’s government scrapped the 60 year old verbal agreement to the people of Cranford in 2009, but a lack of taxiways to support full runway alternation did not exist and Heathrow was obliged to lodge a planning application with Hillingdon Borough Council.
Hillingdon, naturally, felt obliged to refuse. A three week public inquiry was held in June 2015 but the decision never came, despite the inspector’s report being concluded over 18 months ago.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday decided to sneak out the news which will be welcome and devastating news to equal numbers of residents. It was added to the same web page providing news of the draft NPS – but much later in the day:
“The government has today granted planning permission for works at Heathrow Airport which, when complete, will enable full use of both runways subsequent to the government’s earlier decision to end the ‘Cranford agreement’. These works will result in a fairer distribution of aircraft noise in built-up areas close to Heathrow Airport. They do not allow for any increase in the number of permitted movements from the airport.”
The announcement has so far gone unnoticed by local groups, councils and campaigners.
“Fair”, of course, is highly subjective word in the context of the Cranford Agreement. That airport noise should be evenly distributed around the populations around Heathrow seems fair. That the disproportionate respite guaranteed by the agreement for so many years will end so abruptly is less clear cut.
WHO GAINS AND WHO LOSES?
According to Hillingdon’s own analysis flights will HALVE during easterly operations from 630 to 328 for communities under the final approaches to the northern runway – such as Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle.
But communities including Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Stanwell Moor could see flights increase from 26 to 328 a day (on the southern runway).
Those residents benefitting from fewer overflights should celebrate knowing that they do so at the expense of others who will be inflicted with misery.
Easterly winds occur typically 30% of the time and some 4,450, mainly on the east of Heathrow, are predicted to suffer “significant adverse effects” with a sudden increase in noise pollution to levels that those on the west have had six decades to come to terms with.
Some will have made life decisions based around the relative tranquility; the impact on quality of life, let alone house prices, will be hard to predict.
Heathrow is to build a 5 metre high acoustic barrier in Longford village as part of a package to mitigate the scheme.
A condition of the planning permission gives Heathrow three years to enact the new infrastructure to implement the changes.
On 17 May 2013 a planning application was submitted by Heathrow Airport Limited for the creation of a new hold area at the western end of the northern runway, the construction of new access and exit taxiways and the construction of a five metre high acoustic noise barrier to the south of Longford Village.
The application was put to the London Borough of Hillingdon which refused planning permission on 21 March 2014.
One comment below the article:
by Tim on 3 FEBRUARY, 2017
It is also worth mentioning that to mitigate the air quality effects in Longford, Heathrow is due to make a “contribution” of £540,000 to go towards new buses which will serve Longford.
The lower emissions from these Euro 6 buses should counter the increased NOx levels that more takeoffs over Cranford will create.
(One wonders whether the damning comments made about the environmental assessment of airspace changes included in the Inspector’s Report might have been a reason to delay publication until the Government was prepared to put forward proposals to tackle them.)
The DfT website says:
The government has today granted planning permission for works at Heathrow Airport which, when complete, will enable full use of both runways subsequent to the government’s earlier decision to end the ‘Cranford agreement’. These works will result in a fairer distribution of aircraft noise in built-up areas close to Heathrow Airport. They do not allow for any increase in the number of permitted movements from the airport.
The document says, on air quality deterioration:
” Living conditions – air quality 17. Turning to the issue of air quality, the Secretaries of State have carefully considered the Inspector’s review of the policy and guidance framework applicable to air quality (IR1132- 1139) and his assessment of effects (IR1140-1158); and they agree with his conclusion at IR1158 that there would seem to be little doubt that the development would lead to a worsening of some already significant exceedances of the EU limit value. With regard to mitigation (IR1159-1170), the Secretaries of State agree with the Inspector’s conclusions at IR1171 that mitigation of the air quality effects of the proposed development is necessary and justified and that the proposed mitigation would be reasonable, proportionate and sufficient to adequately mitigate the adverse effects of the development so that there would be no conflict with the development plan in this regard. ”
The document says, on changes to noise:
Living conditions – noise
14. The Secretaries of State agree with the Inspector at IR840 that the Government’s decision that the Cranford Agreement should be ended means that the issue that lies at the heart of this appeal is whether the proposed mitigation and compensation measures for those likely to be affected by the proposals can be regarded as “appropriate”.
15. On this basis, and having carefully considered the points made by the Inspector at IR972- 1115, along with the comments received in response to the reference back exercise referred to at paragraph 5 above, the Secretaries of State agree with the Inspector’s conclusions within those paragraphs and at IR1116-1122 on mitigation and compensation for noise. In particular, the Secretaries of State have given careful consideration to, and agree with, the Inspector’s analysis and conclusions on the impact of noise on residential properties (IR1081-1100). They also agree with him that HAL’s proposed mitigation in regard to schools can be regarded as appropriate (IR1111); and with regard to his conclusions on community buildings and outdoor areas (IR1112-1113). Furthermore, they agree that the noise barrier would form an appropriate part of the overall mitigation package (IR1116).
16. With regard to the Inspector’s conclusions on the impact of noise on living conditions (IR1117-1122), the Secretaries of State agree with him that the noise mitigation measures proposed by your Company should be supplemented by the provision of the “Cranford-specific” insulation scheme to which the Inspector refers at IR1122 and which he proposes should be imposed as a condition in granting planning permission (see paragraph 20 below). [This is copied below here]. They agree with the Inspector that such measures would be proportionate, particular to the development, adequate and appropriate, and in 4 compliance with the development plan, the Framework and guidance and the NPSE. They also consider that it would be in line with the expectation of the Coalition Government, when announcing the cessation of the Cranford Agreement in 2010, that appropriate mitigation and compensation measures would be provided for those likely to be adversely affected by the ending of that Agreement (IR18).
20.The Secretaries of State have considered the Inspector’s analysis at IR1179-1192, the recommended conditions set out at the end of the IR and the reasons for them, national policy in paragraph 206 of the Framework and the relevant guidance. They are satisfied that the conditions recommended by the Inspector, including the “Cranford-specific” condition which now forms condition 9 (see paragraph 16 above), comply with the policy test set out at paragraph 206 of the Framework and that the conditions set out at Annex B should form part of their decision. The NPSE and the APF require airport operators, when considering developments which result in an increase in noise, to ensure that they offer “appropriate compensation” to those potentially affected. The Secretaries of State accept that imposing this additional condition goes beyond the minimum expressly referred to in the APF, by imposing an enhanced mitigation package beyond that minimum. They nevertheless consider the enhanced mitigation required by this additional 5 condition to be appropriate in this case and necessary to make this proposal acceptable to those most directly adversely affected by this scheme, for the reasons given by the Inspector at IR1122.
[There is a lot on potential mitigation, page after page, but nothing that indicates there will be anything much for residents newly overflown. Some in the noisiest areas may get some insulation – but there does not appear to anything more than that. AW comment]
Government decision expected soon, to allow Heathrow planning consent on ending Cranford agreement
Heathrow submitted a planning application in May 2013 for various additions to taxiways and other runway-associated infrastructure, to enable flights to take off towards the east, from the northern runway – after the ending of the Cranford Agreement in 2009. This was rejected in March 2014, and since then Heathrow appealed, and a planning enquiry took place in June 2015. The outcome should be announced imminently, maybe within weeks, with the Planning Inspector making his recommendation to the Government. Full runway alternation could halve the number of flights over Colnbrook during easterly operations, so this is welcomed by some. Those under the final approaches to the northern runway in areas such as Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle would see overflights reduce in total by 302, from 630 to 328 movements per day. However, there would be roughly 35,000 extra flights a year over Cranford, rather than from the southern runway. The Inspector recommended that, if the planning application is approved, there should be an insulation scheme for households that would otherwise only be entitled to relocation assistance.
Public inquiry into the ending of the “Cranford Agreement” to start on 2nd June and last 3 weeks
The Cranford Agreement was made in the 1950s, to ensure planes cannot take off from Heathrow’s northern runway, to the east, except in exceptional circumstances. That protected Cranford when there are easterly winds. However, it has meant that on easterly operations all take offs are from the southern runway, and all landings on the northern – hitting Windsor hard. Ending the Cranford Agreement would give Windsor residents more respite from the noise. Though the Agreement was formally ended in 2010, Heathrow needed to make changes in access and exit taxiways off the northern runway and consent is needed from Hillingdon Council. They have refused permission (on noise and air quality grounds), but the issue is now going to a public inquiry that starts on 2nd June. It is likely to last for 3 weeks. The Heathrow plans needing planning consent are also the creation of a new ‘hold area’ at the western end of the northern runway, and the construction of a 5 metre high acoustic noise barrier to the south of Longford Village.