BAA has decided not to submit a planning application for the taxiway works

BAA has decided not to submit a planning application for the taxiway works necessary
for aircraft to routinely take-off over the village of Cranford.   Take-offs to
the east from the northern runway have until now been prevented by the Cranford
agreement. The government is committed to ending the Cranford agreement. The consultation 
will not take place during the ‘Operational Freedoms’ trial, as BAA believes this could lead to confusion between the two.

11 November 2011 (BAA)

BAA has decided not to submit a planning application for the taxiway works necessary
for aircraft to routinely take-off over the village of Cranford.

Under normal operations at Heathrow, one runway is used for arrivals and the
other for departures. When aircraft are taking off and landing towards the west,
the runway used for arrivals/departures is switched at 3pm to give local residents
respite from noise. However, when weather conditions mean aircraft are taking
off and landing towards the east (easterly operations), runway alternation has
been prevented by the Cranford agreement, which prohibited aircraft routinely
taking off to the east from Heathrow’s northern runway.

The government is committed to ending the Cranford agreement. This would allow
runway alteration during easterly operations if BAA built the necessary taxiways.
However, BAA has decided that at this current time it is not going to submit a
planning application to the London Borough of Hillingdon.

The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, BAA believes this could lead to confusion
given the current trial of ‘Operational Freedoms’ that is happening at Heathrow.
The trial, which means aircraft take-off over Cranford under certain circumstances,
will be taking place at the same time as the London Borough of Hillingdon would
be required to consult on Heathrow’s planning application for the enabling works.
This could make it difficult for members of the public and other key stakeholders
to make the distinction between the two.

In addition, the requirement for Heathrow to carefully monitor the impacts of
the Operational Freedoms trial provides an opportunity to undertake ground noise
monitoring in Longford and departure noise monitoring in Cranford. This information
will help BAA to better understand the impact of aircraft using the northern runway
for easterly departures, something that would become standard operating practice
once full alternation on easterlies is introduced.  A decision on submitting a
planning application will be taken at the end of the Operational Freedom trial.


see also


Cranford Agreement


The Cranford Agreement is a verbal agreement dating from the 1950s to avoid use
of the northern runway for take-offs in an easterly direction over Cranford unless
necessary (for example, when the southern runway is closed). Easterly take offs
occur for about 30% of the year, taken as an average over 20 years, given that
the prevailing winds are from the west. The Agreement prevents runway alternation
and thus respite is not offered to communities under the flight paths to and from
Heathrow. Therefore, aircraft depart to the east using the southern runway and
arrive from the west using the northern runway.

Following public consultation, the Secretary of State for Transport announced
in January 2009 that the Cranford Agreement will end. This was reaffirmed by the
Minister of State for Transport in September 2010.

Ending the agreement will redistribute noise more fairly around the airport by
allowing the introduction of runway alternation on easterlies, extending the same
benefits of runway alternation (i.e. periods of respite) to all communities surrounding
the airport. Additional detail is provided in our consultation document “Review
of Heathrow’s noise mitigation schemes.Visit for more information.

We need to make changes to the airport’s taxiway system in order to introduce
runway alternation on easterly operations. This is because the airfield has developed
over many years with the Cranford Agreement in place and as a result the taxiway
system for the two runways is not symmetrical. The works will provide improved
access to the western end of the northern runway for departing aircraft and additional
exit points for arriving aircraft on the southern runway.

We anticipate submission of a planning application in autumn 2011. [Not now happening then, as in press release above]. The first stage in the planning process is to agree with the Local Planning
Authority (London Borough of Hillingdon) the approach to the planning application
and in particular how we should assess potential environmental effects, for example,
changes in noise and how this might affect the surrounding communities. We have
submitted a Scoping Report to the London Borough of Hillingdon to help define
the scope of the assessment.

The timeline for changing operations following the ending of the Cranford Agreement
is as follows:

  • Autumn 2011 – Planning application and Environmental Impact Assessment to be
  • Early/mid 2012 – Planning permission obtained and revised noise mitigation schemes
  • Construction of taxiways will take 13 months once planning permission is granted;
  • Mid 2013 – commence departures from the northern runway and runway alternation
    introduced on easterly operations (i.e. operation of the Cranford Agreement comes
    to an end).



Planes to take off over Cranford in new trial

Oct 5 2011 By Robert Cumber

Hounslow Chronicle

PLANES will take off over Cranford for the first time next month as part of a
controversial trial at Heathrow airport.

From November 1, planes will depart to the east from the northern runway at Heathrow
for the first time since the historic Cranford Agreement was ended in January

The departures are part of a four-month trial, designed to reduce disruption
at the airport, allowing planes to take-off or land on both runways at the same

Planes currently use one runway for take-offs and the other for landings, with
operations switching at 3pm each day, to guarantee residents living either side
of the runway some relief from the noise.

However, during the trial, details of which were published this week, Heathrow’s
owners BAA will be allowed to temporarily use both runways for arrivals or departures
when there are significant delays.

Both runways can already be used for arrivals in special circumstances, with
about 400 to 700 flights a month landing out of alternation, mainly during the
busy morning period.

However, this is the first time both runways will be used for departures, meaning
planes will take off over Cranford.

Since the Cranford Agreement ended, there have been a very limited number of
take-offs over the area but only in what BAA described as ‘extreme’ circumstances,
such as when the southern runway has been closed due to snow or other factors.

Scheduled take-offs over Cranford are still some way off. BAA has yet to apply
for planning permission for the necessary work to taxiways, which is unlikely
to be completed before 2015.

Cranford ward councillor John Chatt warned the move would have a major impact
on residents and schools in the area. He urged residents to make their views known
during the trial.

A spokeswoman for BAA was unable to say how many flights were expected to land
or take off out of alternation during the trial.

But she said it would not lead to an increase in the total number of flights
from the airport, which is capped at 480,000 a year.

Campaign group HACAN last month told how residents were ‘very angry indeed’ that
their half day of peace would no longer be guaranteed.

However, BAA claims the changes will help cut delays and reduce the number of
night flights needed.

A second trial is due to take place next summer, with both trials being monitored
by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Should ministers choose to make the changes
permanent, a full consultation has been promised before a final decision is made.

More details on the trial are available at and you can
make your views known by calling 020 8745 5791 or emailing