Adam Afriyie
MP for Windsor
Heathrow’s Achilles Heel

The recent decision on airport expansion is deeply disappointing. Yet in some ways it’s understandable given the groupthink surrounding a third runway to which the Airport Expansion sub-committee has been subjected.

We need new airport capacity and we need it fast. But it needs to be introduced in the most cost-effective and least environmentally damaging way possible.

Heathrow noise update

The letter below has gone out to constituents in response to queries about what is being done to tackle the airspace changes, that have increased noise over parts of the constituency.

The focus is:

  1. Pressing for a consultation on, and change to, NATs Guidance on airspace strategy.
  2. Asking for NATs to have responsibility for the level of ground noise imposed by aircraft
  3. Urging the use of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) to mitigate noise
  4. Calling for air traffic controllers to monitor flights up to 7,000 ft, rather than just 4,000 ft.

The letter can be read in full below. Click to enlarge.

Heathrow update letter (July 2015)

 

The Airports Commission is stuck in the past

While it is disappointing that the Commission’s first recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow reflects a backward looking view of aviation world, there is good reason for optimism. Gatwick remains on the table as a credible and commercially viable option.

With the door open for Gatwick we may finally be closer to a decision and I will be urging the Government to take the opportunity of a generation to choose Gatwick.

Heathrow – Our Noisy Neighbour

UK Airports 57 db contour graph

Noise comparison at UK airports, Click to enlarge.

One thing is for certain: Britain needs more aviation capacity to remain an open, globally-focussed trading nation. But the decision on expansion needs to take into account a range of issues, including the environment, local communities, feasibility and the needs of Britain’s aviation market.

The argument over noise is often dismissed as small-minded nimbyism. But airplane noise isn’t just a matter of irritation, it is linked to significant productivity losses and health complications such as hypertension, hearing loss, insomnia, mental health challenges and cognitive impairment. We must take this seriously.

Where next for the fight against the Third Runway

Heathrow Noisy Airplane

While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.

During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.