Noise problems for some south east London residents from night noise trial

Heathrow Airport is currently running a trial, to see whether giving residents in one block of airspace in south east London, between 11.30pm and 6am, for some weeks, makes a difference. The trial is intended to give respite from night flights to one area for a week, with the planes then being directed over that area for another week.  So people get a week off from the night disturbance. However, some of planes have been flying a route between the blocks of airspace, so residents there have been suffering more night noise than usual, while others have had less. There have been many complaints from Brockley, an area between Lewisham and Greenwich, and Assembly Member Darren Johnson has taken an interest in the issue. This trial ends in March. This is a quite different trial to the Operational Freedoms trials at Heathrow, looking into use of a different runway in order to reduce delays when there are specific problems.  The Operational Freedoms trials are ending a month earlier than intended, on 28th February.


HACAN works with Heathrow Airport to create ‘no-fly’ respite zones

Note from HACAN about the trials:

HACAN has worked with Heathrow Airport, National Airport Traffic Control (NATS) and British Airways to create experimental night ‘no-fly’ zones for people living some distance from the airport.

The idea is to create ‘no fly’ zones within which there will be no planes until almost 6am every second week. Check out the details on

HACAN stresses that this is just an experiment that runs until the end of March. It doesn’t aim to solve all our noise problems. And there might be losers. If it is not working, it will cease after March or be altered. It also doesn’t change HACAN’s opposition to night flights.

It is a first attempt to try to provide respite periods for people living with the noise right now.
At present people living closer to the airport get a half day’s break from the noise when the planes switch runways at 3pm. They also get some relief on certain nights. But people living further from the airport get no period of respite. This video shot in Vauxhall, 17 miles from the airport, shows what life can be like: . HACAN’s ultimate aim is to get respite periods during the day (not by bringing noise to new areas but through sharing the noise around places currently affected). This trial is at night because it is easier to create respite zones at that time.

Daytime is more difficult because of the sheer number of planes using the airport.



.News from Darren Johnson AM: Heathrow trial a ‘nightmare’ for SE4 residents


The Mayor of London has responded to concerns raised by Darren Johnson AM on behalf of residents of south east London whose daily lives and sleep patterns are being disrupted by excess aircraft noise. The disturbance is being caused by additional aircraft movements in the skies over Lewisham and Greenwich as part of a trial being run by Heathrow airport.

Darren Johnson AM commented:

“I’ve been inundated with complaints from Brockley residents as a result of Heathrow’s new trial scheme, all of whom are complaining about an increase in early morning aircraft noise, as well as additional noise throughout the day, too. While the trial is intended to provide respite for residents in some parts of London, it’s clearly causing a nightmare for residents of Lewisham and Greenwich. That is why I called upon the Mayor of London to get involved and I am pleased he has expressed similar concerns and is lobbying at the highest level.”

Residents can have their say at a public meeting with representatives of Heathrow Airport on Friday 8th March at Greenwich and Southwark Samaritans (1-5 Angus St., SE14 6LU, 5 mins walk from New Cross Station) from 7.30pm – 9.00pm.



Darren’s question to the Mayor:

Aircraft Noise Brockley SE4

Question number0125/2013
Meeting date30/01/2013

Question by Darren Johnson

I have had numerous complaints from residents of SE4 about a significant increase in aircaft noise and early morning flights since Heathrow/BAA began a trial scheme of changed flight paths. Are you monitoring the impact of this trial and will you be making representations to BAA and the relevant bodies?

Answer by Boris Johnson

Yes. Heathrow’s operational freedoms and early morning respite trials both involve varying the arrival and departure routes, with the operational freedoms trial also entailing more intensive use of Heathrow’s runways. I have significant concerns about the methodology and transparency of the operational freedoms trial particularly, and have made representations on this matter to the highest levels of Government.

I have called for a wide range of data to be made available, and as soon as it is, TfL will interrogate it to understand whether we are in a position to understand the trials’ impacts. If we are still unable to do so, I can assure you I will make the strongest possible representations.

Heathrow have recently announced the date for the conclusion of its Operational Freedoms trial is to be brought forward by a month and the DfT has launched its own consultation on night flights. I am concerned that such a chaotic approach could cause further uncertainty for those affected and is in danger of further eroding confidence in the decision-making process.




Operational freedoms trial at Heathrow to end a month early, on 28th February

January 24, 2013    Operational Freedom trials at Heathrow started in November 2011 and ended in February 2012. The second phase of the trial started in July 2012 and due to go on until the end of March 2013. In November 2012, BAA announced that two parts of the trails would not take place (Phase 2, Operational Freedoms 2 and 3 – about delaying flights from 4.30 to 5.00am in exchange for more flights from 5.30am to 6am; and re-directing departing aircraft from their route sooner after take-off). Simon Burns has now announced that the trials will end a month early, on 28 February 2013. Some specific tests scheduled for March will be brought forward into February, which will accommodate the space left behind by the early morning arrivals freedom being inoperable during the trial period. Simon Burns says: “The revised end date will enable the overall analysis of the trial to begin sooner and support the government’s objective, as announced in the Autumn Statement, to bring forward the consultation and final decisions by ministers on whether an operational freedoms regime of some form should be adopted on a more permanent basis at Heathrow.”     Click here to view full story…