Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them
Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow’s airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures. Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O’Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was. Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters – with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends robust response to Heathrow’s expansion plans
1 March, 2019 (Epsom & Ewell Borough Council website)
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow Airport Limited’s consultation on changes to existing airspace and future runway operations.
The consultation sets out how increased flights using the existing two runways and the proposed expansion to a third runway could operate in practice. This includes fundamental changes to the flightpaths and the geographic areas that are most likely to be impacted.
The borough of Epsom and Ewell is featured within four ‘design envelopes’ set out in Heathrow Airport Limited’s consultation on airspace and future operations. These proposals could result in the borough being overflown by aircraft far more frequently and at significantly lower altitudes.
Currently a proportion of aircraft arriving at or taking off from Heathrow airport fly over the borough at a height ranging from 7,000 to 22,000 feet [6,000 to 8,000 mainly. AW note] with the average being closer to about 12,000 feet.
However, the proposals for an expanded Heathrow airport specifies additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures.
Even without an additional runway, Heathrow Airport Limited’s proposed adoption of the Independent Parallel Approach (IPA) using the existing two runways would result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. In addition to the above, the borough borders an area directly to the North where it is proposed that aircraft would be flying at even lower altitudes i.e. down to just 2,000 feet.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said: “For people living, working and studying in Epsom and Ewell these proposals could translate into an estimated four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality caused by increased air pollution levels including increased carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other compounds harmful to human health and the environment.
“Given the geographic topology of the borough, and the fact that Epsom and Ewell is already the most densely populated borough in Surrey, it faces greater risks from poor air quality and already has a declared Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). Therefore, significantly more residents and businesses would be impacted by the increase in air traffic and aircraft flying at significant lower altitudes in the airspace above and around the borough.”
Councillor Peter O’Donovan, Chairman of the Council’s Environment Committee said, “There were 26 consultation documents published on the Heathrow consultation website during the course of January 2019, much of which were highly technical including some that were over 500 pages long. Yet the consultation process itself which started on 8 January 2019 and is set to close on 4 March 2019 only allowed some 8 weeks for those impacted to read and analyse these documents before having to respond. The scheduling of just one local event for the whole borough of Epsom and Ewell with a population of some 80,000 was far from adequate.”
“Most of the questions posed in the consultation were highly constrained and leading, implying that significant increases in flights and flights operating at lower altitudes, with greater noise and pollution levels, were acceptable and enviable outcomes. This type of approach to consultation only serves to undermine trust and confidence in the process. It is vital that local communities including local businesses have the opportunity to be fully and properly engaged in the consultation on potential airport Expansion and that their voices are heard.”
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, added, “We will continue to argue in the strongest possible terms against any proposals for airport expansion that impacts so negatively on our borough.”
For details of the Council’s response to Heathrow Airport Limited’s consultation, please see: www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk
For info and to respond to the Heathrow Airspace and Future Operations consultation, which closes on 4 March, please see: https://afo.heathrowconsultation.com/
Residents deliver scathing criticism of Grayling’s support for increased Heathrow flight paths
5th March 2019
Embattled Transport Secretary and Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling came under fire from constituents over his support for Heathrow Airport’s expansion today (March 5).
Mr Grayling, who is facing calls to resign over his handling of Brexit contingency plans, was criticised by residents of his Epsom and Ewell constituency following a public consultation about the expansion proposals.
Responding to the Airspace and Future Operations consultation, Councillor Eber Kington, Chair of the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee refuted Mr Grayling’s 2016 claim that “fewer people will be affected by noise than is the case today” regarding the planned expansion.
Cllr Kington said: “These proposals could translate into an estimated four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead…Epsom and Ewell is already the most densely populated borough in Surrey, it faces greater risks from poor air quality and already has a declared Air Quality Management Area….”
“Significantly more residents and businesses would be impacted by the increase in air traffic and aircraft flying at significant lower altitudes in the airspace above and around the borough.”
One proposal for the expansion suggested new airspace arrangements which would see up to 47 planes per hour flying over the Epsom and Ewell constituency at just 3,000 feet.
Currently no planes fly over the area below about 6,000 feet altitude according to the Airspace and Future Operations Consultation document.
Speaking to the No 3rd Runway Coalition campaign, which is challenging the expansion plans, Epsom resident Sarah Clayton joined the growing chorus of voices demanding Grayling’s resignation.
Ms Clayton said: “These plans are deeply upsetting for my family and neighbours in the area. Not only has Chris Grayling’s never-ending list of failures had numerous negative impacts and cost the country hundreds of millions of pounds, but his keenness for a new runway at Heathrow is going to make the area a noise sewer.”
“He has actively supported and pushed through proposals to reduce the quality of life and the pleasantness of his own constituency. That is a derogation of duty to his own voters. I’d like him to resign.”
Coordinator of the Coalition Rob Barnstone meanwhile cited specific health disturbances which could result from the expansion as a central reason why so many residents in Epsom and Ewell were opposed to Mr Grayling’s support for more flight paths at Heathrow.
Mr Barnstone said: “We know that disturbance from aircraft noise, particularly at lower levels of altitude, has a series of health impacts, including but not limited to hypertension, onset of heart disease, decreased mental wellbeing and performance of children at school.
“Chris Grayling has failed the very people he represents in Parliament. By spearheading Heathrow expansion, he is dumping on his own constituents and many hundreds of thousands of others who will be newly overflown or have many more Heathrow planes over their homes as a result.”
Mr Grayling’s Westminster and Constituency offices were contacted for comment.
The response from residents followed a Richmond and Twickenham Times report which showed that the proposals could see new flight paths directly over Royal Park in Richmond. The park, which stretches over 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres), is a site of special scientific interest, a national nature reserve and a European conservation area.
Mr Grayling refused calls from the Labour opposition to resign his role as transport secretary on March 5 after it was revealed that UK taxpayers in effect paid the Eurotunnel company £33 million in a settlement after the company brought legal action against the “secretive” process purportedly pursued by Mr Grayling to strike shipping deals aimed at guaranteeing key supplies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.
“I will carry on serving the Prime Minister as long as she wants me to,” Mr Grayling told Sky News.