Heathrow does not plan to end the Cranford Agreement till it gets 3rd runway go-ahead – bad news for Windsor area
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is calling on Heathrow not to delay action that could ease the burden of noise on Windsor, Datchet, Wraysbury and Horton. The borough wants Heathrow to press ahead with ending the Cranford Agreement, which was established in the 1950s; it prevents planes from taking off over the village of Cranford at the eastern end of the northern runway, when Heathrow is on easterly operations. It means Cranford is protected from the worst of the take-off noise. But it means areas near Windsor get all the landings on the northern runway, rather than having them shared between runways. Windsor suffers more noise now because of the Cranford agreement. They have always wanted it ended. At a recent meeting of the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, Heathrow Airport Ltd said it would now wait until [if] the 3rd runway got final approval before initiating plans to alternate runways on easterly operations – meaning the Cranford Agreement stays. And Windsor continues to get the noise. Windsor’s Cllr Bowden said: “The council is extremely concerned with the decision made by Heathrow Airport, without public consultation to further delay runway alternation.” Matters would get even worse for the borough, with a 3rd runway.
Royal Borough calls on Heathrow not to delay action that would ease noise burden on Windsor and its surrounding villages
By Francis Batt (Royal Borough Observer)
The Royal Borough is calling on Heathrow Airport not to delay action that could ease the burden of noise on Windsor, Datchet, Wraysbury and Horton.
The borough wants Heathrow to press ahead with ending the Cranford Agreement, which was established in the 1950s and prevents aeroplanes from taking off over the village of Cranford at the eastern end of the northern runway.
It only applies when Heathrow is on easterly operations and favours Cranford over Windsor and its surrounding villages.
Heathrow submitted its original planning application to end the Cranford Agreement to the London Borough of Hillingdon in 2013 – as part of a plan to alternate runways on easterly operations, winning on appeal when Hillingdon said no.
But at a recent meeting of the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, Heathrow Airport Ltd announced they would now wait until the third runway got a final go-ahead before initiating plans to alternate runways on easterly operations – meaning the Cranford Agreement stays.
Cllr John Bowden, the Royal Borough’s deputy lead member for aviation and Heathrow Airport said: “The council is extremely concerned with the decision made by Heathrow Airport, without public consultation to further delay runway alternation.
“The current noise levels are already unacceptable for borough residents and any interruption to resolving these should not be entertained.”
Around 30% of landing aircraft do so exclusively over the Windsor area, with no respite for the duration of operations.
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 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.