Richings Park and Thorney Residents Association

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February 4th Meeting

Following the publication of the Davies Commission Report in December 2013 a meeting was set up at Richings Park Sports Club on February 4th, 2014 to give HAL the opportunity to explain their proposal for the North West Runway expansion.  Their slide presentation can be viewed by clicking HERE.

We invited our MP, Dominic Grieve, to attend but he was unable to and sent the following message.

I am sorry that I cannot be with you this evening for your meeting with Heathrow Limited, because of Parliamentary commitments in London.   

I am glad that this meeting is taking place and that it will provide an opportunity for Heathrow Limited to explain to residents in Iver and Richings Park how the proposed expansion of Heathrow that they are promoting will impact on the local community.  In this context, it is quite clear to me that the expansion has the possibility of serious negative impact on the quality of life of local residents. In particular, the amount of noise that will be generated from the use of the runways and aircraft taxing at the airport is going to be of prime importance along with the effect on any flight paths close to the village.  Furthermore, I would also be interested to learn from the meeting as to how Heathrow Limited propose to manage the impact on the River Colne which as far as I can see in the proposals will be culverted over along a substantial part of its length. 

I am committed to ensuring the views of local residents are fully represented in this matter. At this stage of the proposals, however, I hope that the evening will provide an opportunity for an open and frank dialogue about how Heathrow Limited intends its project to be manageable in environmental terms. 

Dominic Grieve

A set of questions was sent to HAL prior to the meeting which we requested that they address in their presentation.  These are listed below.

We would like to see large scale maps of the following:

­   The new north-west runway proposal showing the entire Richings Park area with the entire motorway realignment and the public safety zone.

A  the same map as we had seen before was displayed.  Subsequently a map was sent to us which can be viewed HERE.

­   The new north-west runway proposal showing the entire Richings Park area with the noise contours and the proposed NPRs.

A  no noise map was available

General questions

·         During HAL’s last visit, you mentioned that you were looking at optimising the north-west runway proposal and moving it further south to avoid demolition of some listed buildings in Harmondsworth and to avoid relocating the motorway junction:

­   Why did this option not feature in the Davies Commission report?

A HAL stated that the detail of the option was not ready in time for the Davies Commission, however the date on the map displayed contradicted this

­   Is this proposal still under consideration?

A yes

·         The Davies Commission recommended that those promoting schemes consider what steps can be taken to help those who may face an urgent need to sell their homes before the final report is published, but are unable to do so because they are blighted by the proposals (Executive Summary, paragraph 51).  What arrangements are you making to help householders in this position?

A no compensation packages will be considered until 2017

·         The basis for reducing the overall number of people affected by the third runway proposal is a steeper angle of descent.  Has this method of operation been tested at Heathrow and why is it not currently being used?

Not answered

·         Are you proposing any change to the current NPRs?

Not answered

·         Is HAL looking at early vectoring and what would be the implications for Richings Park both with and without a 3rd runway?

Not answered

·         In HAL’s submission to the Davies Commission, you state that there will be 950 residential properties lost under the new north-west runway proposal (Figure 16) but the Davies Commission Report states that the number of demolitions will be nearer 1,500 (paragraph 6.106).  Why the discrepancy and where are the additional 550 properties located?

A  The 2 figures were calculated on a different basis and HAL claims theirs is more accurate

·         In HAL’s submission to the Davies Commission you have included the cost of compulsory purchase of properties that “fall within the airport boundary together with appropriate additional compensation for those affected.”  What is that compensation and who is included?

Not answered

·         You also included for “the cost of mitigating the effects of air noise... The measures covered will vary from minor home improvements to improve noise insulation, through to offers to buy those properties worst affected.”  Which properties are included in your costs?

Not answered

·         The Heathrow Hub proposal included costs for “an optimism bias of 50% added to the airfield scheme and 60% to the Heathrow Hub Interchange based on the range 44-66% given in Transport Assessment Guidelines for the various types of element within the scheme.”  What allowance was included in the HAL submission for this?

Not answered

·         What are your plans to investigate the Heathrow hub proposal and to consult with communities on this?

A  HAL do not believe that the Hub proposal is viable and do not intend to consider it.

Motorway impact questions

·         Under the new runway proposal:

­   Why couldn’t the motorway junction stay on its original alignment?

­   Would it be possible to put sections of the motorway within a tunnel to reduce the impact on Richings Park?

A  the proposals are only at an early stage, it is not possible to be precise about the need for motorway realignments or their exact locations

·         When would the motorway reconstruction take place?

A it would be carried out first if necessary

·         How many houses in Richings Park would need to be demolished if this proposal were approved?

Not answered

·         What would be typical compensation payments for properties that would be demolished, who would pay and what would be the timescale?

A no consideration of compensation will take place until 2017

·         What would be the extent of the safeguarding zone?

Not answered

·         Which property owners might be able to qualify for statutory blight compensation and when would it come into effect?

A No compensation arrangements will be put in place until 2017

Noise impact questions

·         What would be the combined noise impact on Richings Park from the realigned motorways and the proposed new runway?

A work on looking at the noise impacts has not yet been carried out

·         There is already significant noise impact on Richings Park from westerly departures on the northern runway.  What respite would there be for Richings Park under the new third runway proposal?

Not answered

·         There is also significant ground noise impact on Richings Park – what measures would be taken to reduce this impact?

Not answered

·         Would there be compensation for those who would not qualify for statutory blight but were profoundly affected by cumulative noise from the airport and motorway (in addition to Crossrail and WRATH)?

Not answered

·         What other measures are you considering to reduce the environmental impact on Richings Park?

Not answered


 A written response from HAL was received to the questions on February 25, 2014.  this is shown below.


General questions

 Why was the optimised scheme not mentioned in the Airport Commission’s Interim Report when it was submitted by HAL in July 2013?

The optimised plan was submitted to the Airports Commission as part of Heathrow’s full submission to the Airports Commission. This variation was developed quite late in the process and due to the timescales for submitting the options, we were not able to do as much work on it in terms of assessing the likely impacts and costs. We have since carried out this work however the Airports Commission carried out their assessment on the original north west proposal. We have now been asked to submit a refreshed proposal by 9 May.

 The Davies Commission recommended that those promoting schemes consider what steps can be taken to help those who may face an urgent need to sell their homes before the final report is published, but are unable to do so because they are blighted by the proposals (Executive Summary, paragraph 51). The proposed schemes are already affecting house prices and the ability to sell. What arrangements are you making to help householders in this position?

It is unprecedented for promoters of schemes to introduce hardship schemes in the absence of policy support for the proposed development. Without policy support, there is no regulatory support so we are currently considering the options. We hope to come to a conclusion by 9 May.

 In HAL’s submission to the Davies Commission you have included the cost of compulsory purchase of properties that "fall within the airport boundary together with appropriate additional compensation for those affected." What is that compensation likely to be and who would be included?

We have said will offer greater than market value compensation (at least 10% premium) for any homeowner whose property is subject to compulsory purchase. The precise details of any blight and compensation schemes and who qualifies for this will be worked out and consulted on.

 You also included for "the cost of mitigating the effects of air noise... The measures covered will vary from minor home improvements to improve noise insulation, through to offers to buy those properties worst affected." Which properties are included in your costs?

The precise details of any blight and compensation schemes and who qualifies for this will be worked out and consulted on.

 The Heathrow Hub proposal included costs for "an optimism bias of 50% added to the airfield scheme and 60% to the Heathrow Hub Interchange based on the range 44-66% given in Transport Assessment Guidelines for the various types of element within the scheme." What allowance was included in the HAL submission for this?

As an airport operator used to building airport and airport facilities, we did not need to include an optimism bias as we were confident our figures were correct. In their assessment of our options the Airports Commission agreed with our estimates and put the cost of our proposal between £13-18bn (we had said £17bn).

  The basis for reducing the overall number of people affected by the third runway proposal is a steeper angle of descent. Has this method of operation been tested at Heathrow and why is it not currently being used?

Currently aircraft approach Heathrow at an angle of 3 degrees which is the angle used at most international airports. We believe an angle of 3.25 degrees could be possible in the short to medium term. We have been working with the industry to determine the feasibility of this and have recommended that we run a trial at Heathrow. Steeper approaches such as those used at City Airport (5 degrees) have an entirely different fleet mix which precludes this angle being used for all aircraft at Heathrow (or most international airports)

 Are you proposing any change to the current NPRs?

Regardless of any airport expansion, airspace changes will take place by 2020 as part of the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy. There is a move right across Europe is simplify and modernise airspace to reflect the capability of aircraft. This will involve some changes to arrivals and departure routes. Heathrow is running a series of trials over the next couple of years that will culminate in a public consultation sometime in 2016.

Flights paths with a third runway have not yet been finalised. In our submission to the Airports Commission we attempted to give a broad guide to which areas we expect will experience more or less noise with a runway to the north west of Heathrow. However the noise contours will depend on the final flight paths which will require public consultation and are purely indicative at this stage. We feel that publishing indicative routes now causes more anxiety for residents since they are likely to change. We are carrying out more work on this over the next few months and currently plan to share this with residents later this year.

 Is HAL looking at early vectoring and what would be the implications for Richings Park both with and without a 3rd runway?

Airspace changes means early vectoring won’t be necessary. Early vectoring was used as part of the Operational Freedoms trial and was trialled due to issues with the current departure routes. These issues would no longer exist by redesigning airspace.

Motorway impact questions

 When would the motorway reconstruction take place?

This would need to take place early in the construction programme as it’s an important part of the enabling works.

 You advised that HAL did a count of the number of properties that would be lost. How many houses in Richings Park would need to be demolished if this proposal were approved?

Approx. 80 properties would be required to reconfigure the motorway junction.

 What would be typical compensation payments for properties that would be demolished, who would pay and at what point in time will properties be valued for compensation?

We have said we would pay greater than market value for any homeowner whose property is subject to compulsory purchase. The precise details of how payments would be worked out are being worked out over the next few months and will be consulted on. Heathrow would not purchase properties until the Government introduced policy support for a third runway at Heathrow.

 What would be the extent of the safeguarding zone?

The redesigned motorway junction roads would require verges and a buffer zone to adjoining properties. At the moment this has been assumed as a minimum of 6m but would require more detailed design in later stages if the updated plan were to continue to require the modification to the M25 / M4 junction

 Which property owners might be able to qualify for statutory blight compensation and when would it come into effect?

Property owners that would be able to qualify for statutory blight compensation would be those people who are being compulsory purchased or most affected by noise. The precise details of any blight and compensation schemes and who qualifies for this will be worked out and consulted on.

Environmental impact questions

 What would be the combined noise impact on Richings Park from the realigned motorways and the proposed new runway?

It is too early to say. We will be putting together an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of our proposal which we will submit the Airports Commission later this year. We currently plan to share this with residents later this year.

 There is already significant noise impact on Richings Park from westerly departures on the northern runway. What respite would there be for Richings Park under the new third runway proposal?

With a runway to the north west of Heathrow, we will still be able to provide significant periods of relief from aircraft noise through a system of runway alternation. The exact operation of this alternation programme would be consulted on with local residents.

 There is also significant ground noise impact on Richings Park – what measures would be taken to reduce this impact?

A third runway to the north west of Heathrow would bring Richings Park closer to Heathrow and therefore it is likely ground noise will increase although how much given other noise sources in the area such as the M4 has not yet been calculated. Ground noise will be included as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment we’ll be carrying out on our proposal.

 Would there be compensation for those who would not qualify for statutory blight but were profoundly affected by cumulative noise from the airport and motorway (in addition to Crossrail and WRATH)?

Anyone profoundly affected by noise will qualify for statutory blight. The Government define what this level is. This will apply whether it’s noise from aircraft or the motorway or both.

 There would be a significant amount of additional traffic in the local area from both construction and operations – what plans are you making to upgrade local infrastructure?

This will be considered in more detail as we develop our north west runway proposal.

 Can we expect more air pollution in our local area from the proposed new runway?

We believe it is possible to build and operate a new runway with no exceedences of EU Air Quality Limits due to the airport in 2030. Cleaner vehicles, an increased proportion of passengers travelling by public transport and new aircraft technology will means that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) would be within EU limits.

NOTE: EU limits are already being breached around Heathrow now, let alone if a third runway was built causing as it would an extra 20 million vehicles journeys per year.  Heathrow's director of Policy and Political Relations, Nigel Milton, did say at a recent meeting that planning permission for expansion could not be given unless air pollution fell below EU limits.  Milton seemed to think that air pollution rather than noise was the main obstacle to expansion.  He also said at the same meeting that only 1-2000 extra jobs would be created at the airport in the event of a third runway. This may well disappoint people who were expecting a much bigger increase. For more information about Air Pollution visit this BBC web page .  As a measure to try and reduce air pollution arising from motorway traffic the Department for Transport are considering a scheme for the local section of the M4.  Further information can be found on this BBC web page.

 What other measures are you considering to reduce the environmental impact on Richings Park?

These will be considered as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

 Will there be any community payment as compensation for Heathrow expansion and to whom?

This level of detail will be worked out we progress through the process. Heathrow spends £2m a year supporting local community projects, schools; employment and regeneration programmes. We would also be subject to Community Infrastructure Levy payments to both the Mayor and Local Authorities although the actual ends to which this money would be put would be decided by those parties and not us.

We have been advised that if HAL are given permission to build a 3rd runway then the Community Infrastructure Levy that they would be duty bound to pay out as general compensation would be paid to Hillingdon and Greater London where they are resident and not to South Bucks or Slough!!!!!

At the end of the meeting residents were asked to write comments about what they had seen and heard.  A summary of these comments are listed below.


·         Liar, liar, be honest

·         If the runway is inevitable, how do we stop re-routing the M25 and destroying RP?

·         Noise contour maps for the proposed new M25/M4 interchange

·         Noise profile data for both runways

·         Flight paths for both proposals

·         Do not ruin the heart of our community

·         Road traffic affected and infrastructure needed

·         Noise – what will we be left with?

·         Flight paths/ noise pollution

·         Pollution – 3 children in 3 weeks have died in Langley

·         Clarity is required – stop the cover up

·         Clarity of flight paths

·         Currently selling home – affecting prices

·         Our properties are blighted – at what point in time will our houses be valued for compensation?

·         Why was the optimised HAL option not mentioned in the Airport Commission’s Interim Report?