Heathrow complaints unit too busy to deal with complaints

Heathrow Airport's noise complaints unit are so inundated that they have given up providing individual responses to disgruntled residents.

Theresa Gruber, Community Communications Manager at Heathrow Airport Ltd, emailed an H&F resident, who was complaining about increased aircraft noise last month, to say: “Thank you for your email and I hope this finds you well. Unfortunately due to the high volume of complaints we are receiving at the moment, we are currently unable to provide detailed individual responses. We aspire to providing individual responses in future.”

The revelation comes as H&F residents, concerned about disruptive aircraft noise at Heathrow, are being invited to a public hearing in November.

Senior executives from the airport’s owners, BAA, will attend Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s Transport Select Committee on November 6th to answer questions about BAA’s trial of new runway rules.

Complaints about BAA’s ‘operational freedoms trial’ – which allows the airport operator to use runways simultaneously under certain circumstances – are soaring in H&F, according to the council.

Fulham resident Carolyn Smyth said: “Since just before the end of July the incoming aeroplane noise has been horrendous. The flights are continuous so as the terrible scream of one flight is beginning to slightly fade the next one follows on. I have never experienced flight noise to this extent and it is unbearable on both sides of my house.”

Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Cabinet Member for Transport & Technical Services, said: “Residents’ complaints over aircraft noise have overwhelmed Heathrow’s complaints department to the point where they can no longer function properly. BAA should not try to ignore this massive groundswell of opinion as, if this trial were to become permanent, residents could be subjected to intolerable disruption forever.

“We now need to get more detailed answers from BAA about what has gone wrong with their trial at our public scrutiny meeting.”

Chelsea & Fulham M.P., Greg Hands, added: "As residents know, I am strongly against any third runway at Heathrow, and against night flights to Heathrow. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in the whole of Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow. If the airport cannot deal properly with noise complaints from its existing operations, what hope is there that it could do better with a larger operation?"

Cheryl Monk, BAA’s Head of Community Engagement, and Tim Hardy, BAA’s Director of Airside, will give a presentation on the Operational Freedoms trial followed by a question and answer session with Transport Select Committee councillors and residents.

The public meeting, which will focus solely on the operational freedoms trial at Heathrow, starts at 7pm at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday, 6th November.

Residents, who are disturbed by aircraft noise, should respond directly to BAA so that concerns are formally logged in their consultation. Visit www.heathrowairport.com/noise or call 0800 344 844 or email noise_complaints@baa.com.