Greg Hands urges Local Residents to make their views heard on Heathrow Expansion and Night Flights

Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands, is drawing attention to three public consultations, which will determine the future of flights at Heathrow Airport.

The Government is currently holding three consultations to ask for the public’s views on the draft Airports National Policy Statement on the expansion of Heathrow Airport, details of which can be found here; on the design and use of UK airspace, details of which can be found here; and on night flights, details of which can be found here.

On 25 October 2016, the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon. Chris Grayling MP, confirmed that the Government’s preferred scheme for adding new runway capacity in the South East is to build a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport, in line with the recommendations made by the independent Airports Commission in July 2015. The Secretary of State advised that the policy for this expansion would be brought forward by means of a draft national policy statement, which would be subject to public consultation.

The Government’s draft Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the south-east of England, lays down the planning policy framework with which the applicant for a new north-west runway would have to comply in order to get development consent. It also sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the South East, and the reasons why a north-west runway at Heathrow is the Government’s preferred scheme.

The draft National Policy Statement is now open to a sixteen-week public consultation in which the public will have the opportunity to contribute their views. The Secretary of State for Transport will use this National Policy Statement as the basis for making decisions on any future development consent application for a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.

Consultation information events are being held across Greater London, at which local residents can speak to officials and ask about the Airports National Policy Statement.

While none of the consultation information events is taking place in the constituency of Chelsea & Fulham, the nearest are:

  • On Friday, 24 February at Putney Leisure Centre, Dryburgh Road, London, SW15 1BL;
  • On Wednesday, 1 March at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London, W8 7NX;
  • And on Monday, 6 March at Assembly Hall, King Street, London, W6 9JU.

These weekday events are open from 11.00am to 8.00pm.

You can respond online here; complete a response form here; send an email to RunwayConsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk; or write to Freepost Runway Consultation.

In addition, the Government is consulting on proposals to:

  • support the reform of airspace, thereby maximising the economic and social benefits of aviation;
  • and to minimise the negative local impacts of aviation.

The Government is seeking comment on proposals to update policy on the management of UK airspace including:

  • the role of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise to ensure noise impacts are openly considered;
  • providing industry with the ability to assess noise impacts and guidance to help them manage change more effectively;
  • bringing compensation policy for airspace changes in line with policy on changes to aviation infrastructure;
  • greater flexibility for London’s major airports, so they can adapt noise management to the needs of their local communities.

The policy principles set out in the consultation document will influence decisions, including:

  • how local communities can have their say on airspace matters
  • and how industry should take into account the impacts on local communities and act to reduce them.

You can respond to the consultation here; complete a response form here;  send an email to airspace.policy@dft.gsi.gov.uk; or write to Freepost UK AIRSPACE POLICY CONSULTATION.

The Government has also announced new measures to cut the noise allowed from night flights at Heathrow and other London airports.

Measures out for public consultation will help encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the existing benefits to passengers and the economy of night flights.

Current night flight restrictions at the three London airports expire in October 2017, and the new rules will last until 2022.

Measures out for consultation include:

  • reducing the total noise quota at Heathrow Airport by at least 43% in the winter (from 4,080 to 2,340) and 50% in the summer (5,100 to 2,540);
  • and setting a strict cap at existing levels for the number of night flights from Heathrow.

You can respond to the night flight consultation here; by completing a form available here; by sending an email to night.flights@dft.gsi.gov.uk; or by writing to Department for Transport, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR.

Commenting on the Government’s three consultations, local Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “I know that the announcement on Heathrow expansion came as a disappointment to many of my constituents in Chelsea & Fulham, as well as to those I campaigned with when I represented Hammersmith as its MP. I fully acknowledge the need to increase airport capacity in the South East of England, but I continue to campaign against the third runway at Heathrow.

I have been campaigning for a ban on night flight for more than a decade, and the Government’s recommendation of a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights does potentially sweeten the overall blow a little.

“Accordingly, I shall make my submissions to these three consultations in due course, and I urge all my constituents to get their opinions heard by responding to them.”