Heathrow unexpectedly closes southern runway for repairs
Residents of Brentford and Isleworth are set to experience an unremitting level of aircraft noise due to the decision by Heathrow to close their southern runway.
The northern runway flight path overflies the area and until October there will be a significant increase in plane noise. Normally Heathrow alternates between the two runways to give residents some respite.
There has been an angry reaction to the announcement with no notice having been given and the works starting this week. Campaigners argue that this concentration of all operations on the northern runway will bring “noise misery” to those living under and around the northern runway flightpath, as they will experience all of the noise generated by Heathrow’s operations for the next three months.
From Monday 13 July the southern runway will be fully closed (day and night) so that Heathrow can carry out more extensive repairs that require deeper excavation. During this period, only the northern runway will be in operation. Heathrow say they do not currently anticipate this work to be completed before 2 August.
They say that because of the length of time required to carry out this type of repair, it would not be possible to carry out these repairs overnight as they have done for previous runway maintenance, such as routine runway resurfacing.
Flight path of northern runway
In the second phase of the work there will be a switch to overnight working which will mean the southern runway will reopen and partial runway alternation can resume. At 7pm each evening, the southern runway will close until 7am the following morning - meaning the northern will be the only runway in use during that time. This means that all early morning flight arrivals will be coming in over the Brentford area.
During this period, Heathrow will follow the published runway alternation schedule - and runway alternation will take place at its usual time at 3pm when they are on westerly operations. They anticipate these works will continue into September and possibly through to October.
A spokesperson for Heathrow said, “We recognise this may be disruptive to local communities, however by carrying out the repairs now whilst flight volumes are significantly lower than normal, we believe this provides us with the opportunity to carry out the works in the most efficient and quickest way. This should then minimise unplanned repairs in the future, causing less disruption to both our operations and local communities e.g. with fewer interrupted respite periods.”
Heathrow scaled down the use of the runways at the beginning of April, with the introduction of “mixed mode”, allowing aircraft to both land and take off on the same runway, with runway use alternating every Monday. Campaigners fear that the use of mixed mode could become the “new norm” if Heathrow seek to use this method of operating permanently, post-pandemic, as a way of increasing the current flight cap of 480,000, to an estimated 565,000 flights per year.
Stop Heathrow Expansion are calling for Heathrow to offer those that will now experience an increase in noise – just as flight numbers are increasing – a better deal, such as ceasing operations at night, from 11pm until 6am.
Geraldine Nicholson from Stop Heathrow Expansion, said, “Heathrow have had three months of significantly fewer flights and now they choose the time where flights are picking up to close a runway. This means noise misery for hundreds of thousands of people living under the northern runway flight paths and close to the northern runway. We were given no notice of this change whatsoever.”
July 13, 2020