Heathrow’s planes over Richmond Park would ‘damage mental health’

Millions of people who use Richmond Park, for peace, quiet and tranquillity, face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway. The noise from the planes, so people cannot escape from the stresses of life and enjoy nature, is likely to have negative impacts on the mental well being of thousands of people. Richmond Park is surrounded by housing and urban development, but it is precious island and refuge, so close to London. With the expansion, there will be more planes, and lower, over the Park. Under the Heathrow expansion plans, hundreds of planes would produce noise levels of up to 80dB – many times over the WHO guidelines for good health – flying at 1,500 feet over the park. It seems that high, and rising, numbers of people living in the London area (and other cities) suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. To help them, the government might want to ensure there are quiet, tranquil areas that people can spent time in, to relax and de-stress. But instead, the government is happy to allow Heathrow to hugely increase plane noise over this treasured, ancient park.  Is nothing worth saving, from the ravages of economic growth etc?


Heathrow’s planes over Richmond Park would ‘damage mental health’

Millions of people who use park face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour under plan

A psychologist who treats patients experiencing stress and anxiety with a dose of nature in Richmond Park says the expansion of Heathrow airport will be detrimental to mental health.

Heathrow will on Tuesday publish a consultation on its “master plan” for airport expansion, including environmental aspects of building a third runway.

Dr Alison Greenwood’s evidence comes days after research which showed a two-hour “dose” of nature a week significantly boosts health and wellbeing.

Under the planned expansion of Heathrow hundreds of planes will fly at low altitude over the park – a national nature reserve – for the first time.

Greenwood said the potential negative effects of increased noise pollution from low-flying aircraft on mental wellbeing were of great concern in a country where one in four people suffered a mental health problem each year.

She said: “With over 91% of us living in urban environments, and studies showing a significant increase in anxiety and mood disorders among city dwellers, one might expect our government to be doing all it could to protect our valuable natural spaces.

“It seems irrational then that the government is allowing Heathrow, as part of its plans for the third runway, to propose routing for the first time 47 low-flying arrivals as well as between 17 and 47 extra departures every hour directly over Richmond Park, London’s largest open space, a national nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest.”

Greenwood said she treated patients with mental health problems who were referred to her by GPs, with doses of nature in the park. “The conclusion of hundreds of scientific studies comprehensively demonstrates the mental health benefits of exposure to nature,” she said.

According to the World Health Organization, environmental noise features among the top environmental risks to physical and mental health and wellbeing. The WHO guidelines recommend reducing noise levels produced by aircraft to below 45 decibels (dB). “Aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects,” it said.

Under the Heathrow expansion plans, hundreds of planes would produce noise levels of up to 80dB – nearly eight times the WHO guidelines – flying at 1,500 feet over the park.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to win the Conservative leadership, has suggested he would drop his longstanding opposition to a third runway at Heathrow if he becomes prime minister, according to the Times.

The former mayor of London, who told his constituents he would “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and … stop the construction of that third runway,” refused to reassure campaigners against the runway earlier this week that he would cancel the scheme.

The park was established by Kings Charles I as a hunting ground in the 17th century and stretches more than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres).

Sir David Attenborough, in a recent documentary on the park, said steps had to be taken to protect it against increased human activity.




See earlier:

Heathrow expansion plan involves large number of low planes over lovely, tranquil (now) Richmond Park