Hampstead and Highgate, with few flights overhead now, due to get bad levels of Heathrow noise
View from the street: Heathrow need to put the brakes on
20 March 2019 (Ham and High – Hamstead and Highgate)
Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft with noise levels at more than 60 to 65 decibels (dB) above level of background noise in a busy office, from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position.
Heathrow wants to send one flight every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm. In the second phase of expansion with the third runway, there is potential for one flight every minute with most being above 65dB.
Aviation noise has environmental, health and educational impacts that are not well known outside of aviation circles and which are causes for concern for affected residents. That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief.
Environmental concerns include that the air pollution (NOx/ PM10/PM2.5 particulates) around Heathrow is already at or above acceptable limits and London as a whole is close to being in breach of EU requirements for NOx pollution.
Sadiq Khan is introducing the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to bring London’s air closer in compliance with EU emissions requirements. A 50 per cent increase in flights over inner/outer London at low altitudes, emitting these particulates, will reduce our air quality.
Health concerns include the findings of two major medical reports that conclude high levels of aircraft noise cause increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease for both hospital admissions and mortality, disturbed sleep and sleep recuperation, hypertension, raised blood pressure during night sleeping periods, lower birth weight of babies, and raised blood pressure in children.
A 5dB increase in aircraft noise was associated with a greater increase in waist circumference of 1.5cm due to increased stress hormones which might contribute to central obesity. A 10dB increase in day-time or night-time aircraft noise was associated with a 28pc increase in anxiety medication use. With schools experiencing aircraft noise above 63dB, there are higher rates of hyperactivity symptoms for children.
While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, the above is a cause for concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day with the first expansion and then every minute with the third runway.
Education impacts include poorer reading, comprehension and memory skills for children at school and at home. A 5dB increase in aircraft noise can cause a two-month delay in reading age.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Community Noise Guidelines suggest the background sound pressure level in school classrooms should not exceed 35dB during teaching sessions to protect from speech intelligibility and information extraction. They also suggest playgrounds should not exceed 55dB during the recess period to protect from annoyance. With the planned noise levels of over 65dB for north west London, this will not be achievable for the 55 school sites in Hampstead with 12,500 children going to school here.
Heathrow hopes to mitigate with quieter planes, but they are not nearly quiet enough to reduce the terrifying impact on residents.
A report in 2009 required Heathrow expansion to be limited to 702,000 ATMs by 2050 (inc the third runway) but Heathrow wants to increase to 740,000 ATMs. The third runway should be denied and any plans for the expansion abandoned.
Perhaps the High Court in the current judicial review hearing will help to put the brakes on Heathrow’s ambitions.
At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed
Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published “indicative flight paths.” They say “The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were under-stated.” Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne – and many more places – to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
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.
Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/110319.txt
The transcripts of all the days of the hearings are at