Compensation debate delays government decision on taxiway works to allow end to Cranford agreement
The Government is still considering Heathrow’s appeal over taxiway works needed to enable more departures over Cranford. The taxiway works are needed to enable scheduled easterly take-offs from the northern runway, which were previously banned under the Cranford Agreement. This verbal agreement was made 60 years ago, that planes would not take off towards the east, from the northern runway. On easterly operations, planes all therefore take off on the southern runway, and all planes land on the northern runway. The Cranford Agreement was ended by the government in 2009. But though Heathrow can have a small number of take offs from the northern runway, it needs to do taxiway work, in order to use it fully. Hillingdon Council has refused permission for this work, partly due to air pollution fears, and hence the Heathrow appeal. It Heathrow wins the appeal, and the work is done, there could be roughly 35,000 extra flights a year over Cranford (but no increase in the overall 480,000 flights per year at Heathrow). The ending of the Cranford agreement would mean less noise for some areas, but more for others. The delay is due to debate over compensation, help with relocation, or insulation for affected householders.
Heathrow Airport: Compensation debate delays outcome of public inquiry
29 JAN 2016
BY ROBERT CUMBER
Government still considering appeal over taxiway works needed to enable more departures over Cranford
It is now some seven years since the Cranford Agreement at Heathrow was scrapped
The outcome of a public inquiry into works at Heathrow has been delayed due to a debate over compensation for affected householders.
Bosses at the airport want to carry out taxiway alterations enabling more departures over Cranford , but their application was rejected by Hillingdon Council in 2014.
Heathrow appealed against that decision, and the findings of a public inquiry held last June are now being considered by Local Government Secretary Greg Clark and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin , who between them must make the final ruling.
Heathrow had offered to fund soundproofing for properties experiencing a significant noise increase as a result of the change, and to cover the relocation costs where noise levels rise above 69dBLAeq – roughly equivalent to the volume of a vacuum cleaner.
The transport and local government departments want to alter the conditions so households experiencing the greatest disturbance could opt for noise insulation, rather than help to relocate, should they prefer to stay put.
Stakeholders are now being asked whether they would accept these new conditions should the appeal be upheld, and they have been given until February 17 to respond.
35,000 extra flights per year over Cranford
There is no date set for a final decision but given those responses will have to be considered it is unlikely to be announced until several weeks after that deadline.
The taxiway works are needed to enable scheduled easterly take-offs from the northern runway, which were previously banned under the Cranford Agreement.
Without them, only a relatively small number of such departures have been possible since that 60-year-old verbal contract was scrapped by the government in 2009.
Should the work be approved, it would pave the way for roughly 35,000 extra flights a year over Cranford but no increase in the overall 480,000 flights a year at the airport.
Heathrow says the changes would make runway alternation more reliable and would be fairer on people living in areas like Windsor, Hounslow and Feltham , who would experience fewer planes overhead.
Councillors in Hillingdon opposed the planning application due to fears it would increase air pollution in the area, among other concerns.
Hillingdon and Hounslow councils, along with the Greater London Authority, all supported the case against Heathrow’s proposals at the planning inquiry.
Government decision that could HALVE flights over Colnbrook during easterly operations pushed into next year
The result of the public inquiry into the ending of the Cranford Agreement – which could see a dramatic reduction in the number of flights over Colnbrook – is now not expected until sometime NEXT YEAR.
Impact of full runway alternation changes: the green areas will see a decrease in noise while blue will see an increase.
Hillingdon Borough Council has been told that the Planning Inspectorate’s report into the practical ending of the Cranford Agreement will not be sent to the local government minister Greg Clark until November. That pushes a decision well into 2016.
The 60-year old Cranford Agreement prevents easterly take-offs from the northern runway, forcing them over Colnbrook and Windsor instead.
In theory Gordon Brown’s government scrapped the Cranford Agreement in 2009 and David Cameron confirmed the decision in 2010. The public inquiry which recently concluded considered an appeal by Heathrow Airport into a refusal by Hillingdon to support the building of new taxiways to enable easterly operations.
The direction of operation is determined by air traffic controller in relation to the wind speed and direction on the airfield at 1,000ft and 2,000ft. Officially an average of 25-30% of the airport’s operations are easterly, three of the last five years have averaged in excess of this.
During these periods there is no respite at all for Colnbrook residents.
But it is variable, as anything weather-related inevitably is. Some months easterly operations can be significantly more. If you thought it was noisier than usual in March and April you were right – in March you had no respite 38% of the time while in April it reached 47%. In September and November you had no respite for well over 50% of the month, while March 2013 saw 78%, according to Heathrow’s figures.
As Hillingdon itself noted in its assessment of the unfairness of Cranford:
“For some communities (such as Windsor, Colnbrook and Hatton) during prolonged periods of easterly operations this results in several days of overflight without any respite and for others (such as Old Windsor, Stanwell Moor and Cranford) unexpected periods of relief”.
On 17 May 2013 a planning application was submitted by Heathrow Airport Limited for the creation of a new hold area at the western end of the northern runway, the construction of new access and exit taxiways and the construction of a five metre high acoustic noise barrier to the south of Longford Village. The application was put to the London Borough of Hillingdon which refused planning permission on 21 March 2014. On 17 September 2014, Heathrow Airport Ltd appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission.
The appeal was heard by way of a Public Inquiry that commenced on 2 June for a period of three weeks.
Where they stand on ending Cranford restrictions
|Hillingdon and Hounslow Councils, along with the Greater London Authority, supported the case against Heathrow’s proposals at the planning inquiry, citing adverse noise and air quality impact on residents, schools and community facilities.
South Bucks lodged an earlier objection with Hillingdon. HACAN has maintained an objection to ending Cranford, despite acknowledging the unfairness. It fears it would enable mixed-mode operations – planes landing and taking-off from both runways at the same time – and an end of respite.
|Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council supported the proposals, as did theWest Windsor Residents Association.
|No stated position
|Slough Borough Council and Colnbrook Parish Council made no comment on the application.
The impact of ending the Cranford Agreement would be substantial for Colnbrook.
During easterly operations, areas under the final approaches to the northern runway such as Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle, would see overflights reduce in total by 302, from 630 to 328 movements per day.
The appeal decision was originally expected as early as August 2015.
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.
Heathrow lodges appeal with Planning Inspectorate over protection of Cranford against take-offs
Heathrow has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate over the London Borough of Hillingdon’s refusal, in March, to grant permission for taxiway infrastructure. If the government inspector approves the appeal, it would allow Heathrow to alternate the use of both its runways, regardless of wind direction. At present, due to the “Cranford Agreement”, made in the 1950s, planes cannot take off from the northern runway, to the east, except in exceptional circumstances. When there are easterly winds, planes therefore have to land from the west, on the northern runway, but take off from the southern runway. Ending the Cranford Agreement would give Windsor residents more respite, with up to 50% cut in the number of planes currently landing from the west of Windsor. The Cranford Agreement was formally ended in 2010, but to operate on easterly operations, Heathrow says the taxiways are required. But ending the Cranford Agreement will mean more noise, on easterly operations, for those in Old Windsor, Horton and Wraysbury, while residents in Windsor would get a better deal. People can submit comments – by 19th November. Details below.
…. with a lot more information about the Cranford Agreement issue