Gen­tle­man’s agree­ment could soon be ter­mi­nal

Public in­quiry into Heathrow deal on flights over Cran­ford

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Robert Cum­ber robert.cum­ber@trin­i­tymir­

A THREE-week public in­quiry has be­gun over plans which would spell the end of a 60-year-old gen­tle­men’s agree­ment at Heathrow.

The Cran­ford Agree­ment was a ver­bal con­tract made in 1952, which pre­vented easterly take-offs from the air­port’s north­ern run­way.

It was scrapped by the Labour gov­ern­ment in 2009, which ar­gued it was un­fair on other com­mu­ni­ties which bore the brunt of air­craft noise as a re­sult.

How­ever, there have been only a rel­a­tively small num­ber of de­par­tures over Cran­ford since then as new taxi­ways are needed to en­able more such flights.

Heathrow’s ap­pli­ca­tion to cre­ate those taxi­ways was last year re­jected by mem­bers of Hilling­don Coun­cil’s ma­jor ap­pli­ca­tions plan­ning com­mit­tee, who raised con­cerns the ex­tra flights would in­crease air pol­lu­tion in the area.

A public in­quiry into the ap­pli­ca­tion was launched by the Plan­ning In­spec­torate af­ter Heathrow ap­pealed against the coun­cil’s rul­ing. It be­gan on Tues­day, June 2 at Hilling­don Civic Cen­tre and is sched­uled to run un­til Fri­day, June 19.

Heathrow says en­abling sched­uled de­par­tures over Cran­ford would al­low for more re­li­able run­way al­ter­na­tion, giv­ing res­i­dents in ar­eas like Wind­sor, Houn­slow and Feltham more respite from air­craft noise.

At present, one run­way is used for land­ings and the other for de­par­tures, with the roles switch­ing each af­ter­noon to guar­an­tee res­i­dents a pre­dictable noise-free pe­riod.

How­ever, be­cause planes have to take off and land into the wind, that means when they are on easterly op­er­a­tions all planes cur­rently have to land on the north­ern run­way and take off from the south­ern run­way. Heathrow’s sus­tain­abil­ity and en­vi­ron­ment direc­tor Matt Gorman said: “While our air­port is work­ing at re­duc­ing noise lev­els over­all around the air­port, we know from our con­ver­sa­tions with lo­cal res­i­dents that pre­dictable pe­ri­ods of respite are ex­tremely im­por­tant.

“Al­low­ing us to mod­ernise our taxi­way sys­tem would al­low us to op­er­ate full run­way al­ter­na­tion and in line with Gov­ern­ment pol­icy spread noise more fairly, so that Wind­sor and other com­mu­ni­ties around the air­port can re­ceive respite.” End­ing the Cran­ford Agree­ment in prac­tice would mean roughly 35,000 ex­tra flights a year over the area but no in­crease in the over­all 480,000 flights a year at the air­port. Gur­pal Virdi, an in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor for Cran­ford, has crit­i­cised Heathrow’s plans in his writ­ten sub­mis­sion to the public in­quiry, in which he ac­cuses the air­port of “destroying the Cran­ford com­mu­nity”.

He claims end­ing the agree­ment in prac­tice would cre­ate ex­tra noise and air pol­lu­tion, which would im­pair the health and ed­u­ca­tion of Cran­ford res­i­dents. He also ac­cuses Heathrow of wear­ing res­i­dents down with re­peated con­sul­ta­tions, the re­sults of which he says are “usu­ally mis­rep­re­sented”.

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