Richings Park and Thorney Residents Association

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October 2013

Below is the email from HAL following the meeting

As was explained at the meeting we are not in control of the Airports Commission process.  This means that we are not able to answer all the questions people may have at this stage but we are committed to meeting with residents and answering questions where we can and we would be delighted to continue this engagement as the Airport Commission process moves forward.   

Regarding the realignment of the motorway junction, we have checked with Heathrow’s master planning team and can confirm that the number of residential properties shown as affected in each of the options does include the impacts as a result of potential changes to the motorway system. However, it must be emphasised that the nature and extent of the amendments required to motorways as a result of these options are at a very early stage of development and are likely to change considerably during any future design development and stakeholder engagement process.   

You will see for example that while the original NW option we submitted shows the realignment of the motorway junction, we also submitted a revised version – called North West Option – potential optimisation where the motorway junction is not moved (this is available on our website see section called Our Submission).  I appreciate this means there is a lot of uncertainty and concern for residents from Richings Park.  Once we know if any of the options are shortlisted by the Airports Commission in December we will be in a position to develop plans in much more detail and will of course, ensure we consult with local residents on our plans.  Until then we are not able to provide more detailed maps.  We suggest that we pencil a date to meet again towards end January/early February and we can review this once the Airports Commission has announced their shortlist in December.

Noise monitoring

We are sorry that you were unhappy with the position of the noise monitor.  Placing a noise monitor in any location will only give a snapshot of that particular location.  Thorney was the site we were asked to place the monitor and the threshold was set to rule out as many other noise sources as possible in order to only capture the aircraft noise events.  We're sorry if that wasn’t made clear at the start.  

This area is not directly under Heathrow’s departure routes (see attached map which shows a day of departures on westerly operations) and therefore wherever the monitor is placed in the surrounding area, it will have to be set at a certain threshold to ensure it picks up events over the background noise level (which includes road, rail etc).  This would include Richings Park because of its proximity to the M4 however since it would be closer to the noise levels, it is likely it would pick up more noise events. 

Richard committed to coming back to the area as part of the Community noise monitoring programme.  We receive a number of requests for mobile noise monitoring and these have already been allocated for 2014 through the Noise and Track Keeping Working Group.  However we would be happy to monitor another location after 2014 and your request will be put forward to the NTKWG. We will of course make sure you are involved in the location of that monitor next time around.    

Measuring noise and describing its impacts is an inherently complex process. The 57dBA contour is the measurement the government use to measure noise. Like any noise metric it has its limitations.   Any attempt to define and measure noise cannot fully capture the spectrum of personal experiences of noise. We agree with the Government that not everyone within the 57dBA contour will experience significant adverse impacts of noise.  By the same token we also acknowledge that this does not mean that no-one outside of this contour will consider themselves annoyed by aircraft noise.   

Understandably people struggle with the concept of average noise contours and how this relates to their own individual experience.  While noise exposure contours may be helpful to policy makers who need to understand average, area-wide changes in noise exposure, by no means do they represent the only word on the issue.  This is why it is important we meet with local residents to understand your direct experience of noise and to ensure our approach to noise management takes account of this.  Regardless of what happens with expansion, we would like continue our dialogue with you on noise-related issues.  Perhaps it would be worthwhile meeting with a smaller group of residents at Heathrow to take you through what we are doing regarding aircraft noise and complex process of measuring noise.  It may be we can develop better noise metrics that give a better representation of how residents are impacted by noise in your area.  Let us know if you would like us to set something up.  (Their report can be viewed here)