Heathrow noise respite trials benefit 100,000 residents

Nearly ‘100,000’ people living under the Heathrow flight paths have benefited from the noise respite trials carried out earlier this year, according to an independent report.

The Helios Report found that the ‘Early Morning Noise Respite Trial,’ supported by Heathrow, British Airways, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and HACAN, which campaigns against aircraft noise, benefited thousands of people in South-East and East London as well as many residents of Berkshire. During the five-month trial, which ended in March this year, planes were directed to more specific flight paths to protect people from noise in dedicated areas between 04:30 and 06:00.

There were very few infringements of the designated areas. However, the Helios report said the trial should not continue and that ‘pre-trial assessments should be undertaken to predict likely outcomes to better understand the balance of the likely benefits against the unintended negative outcomes’.

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, said, ‘This is the first time we have worked with the aviation industry in this way. Although the trial had some problems which would need to be addressed in any future experiments, to bring relief to 100,000 people is a considerable achievement.’

Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s sustainability director, said: ‘The results of this trial are very encouraging, showing that by working with local communities and our partners across the airport we can find new ways to bring noise respite to thousands of residents.’

Ian Jopson, head of environment and community affairs at air traffic control firm, NATS, said, ‘The trial was a very positive example of how the industry and community can work together to look for ways to limit the impact of noise.’

Captain Dean Plumb, strategy and environment manager for British Airways, said, ‘British Airways is glad to have played a role in trialling these innovative procedures to reduce early morning noise. We are entering an exciting era where modern aircraft are capable of flying more flexibly and quietly than ever before. It is particularly satisfying to be working with local communities, through HACAN, to understand how to best use these new capabilities.’

Those areas covered in the trial included Vauxhall, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Common, Westminster, Bermondsey and Streatham to the east of the airport, and Binfield, Reading, Purley-on-Thames and Winnersh to the west of the airport.