Concerns raised over BAA's complaints log
A packed meeting has aired concerns BAA has ignored or failed to log their complaints.
Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) heard the complaints at a meeting last week, at which the audience said BAA had never responded to their queries.
BAA said that from July 1, the start of the second phase of operational freedom trials, to September 26 it had received slightly more than 4,000 comments about noise.
Councillor Gemma Stockley told the meeting on September 20 that people could also lodge complaints with Richmond Council.
But Professor Ian Bruce, giving a detailed review of the trials, said the first phase had not successfully proven the benefits of reducing runway alternation, and the extension of the current second phase to nine months gave the impression that BAA was trying to experiment with a long term arrangement for the future.
He said it was important for people to register their complaints to BAA as often as possible, because this was the only way the trials would be measured from the environmental noise perspective.
A BAA spokesman said: “Heathrow has taken out adverts in local papers encouraging residents to give their views on the trial and we welcome any similar moves by local councils.
“Operational freedoms are designed to improve the resilience of the airport and can benefit local residents for example by reducing the number of flights in the late evening.
“The trial does not involve any extra flights and can only be triggered in relation to disruption or delays.”
Richmond Council said it had 250 responses to its survey on the second phase, with 96 per cent of people complaining about noise.
John Coates from the council’s environmental team, said there was also a current breach of Heathrow’s nitrogen dioxide limits, set by the European Commission, which could expose the UK Government to a £300m fine if levels were not reduced by 2015.
He said any further growth in Heathrow would be unsustainable without addressing pollution.
Mr Coates said: “How can they bring in a new runway when they are already exceeding the carbon emissions limit?”
RHC members held recent meetings with officials from BAA, Department for Transport and ACL, which manages slots at Heathrow, with upcoming meetings scheduled with NATS and CAA, to convey the
message that, despite popular misconception, Heathrow was not full and could be used in a more efficient way to satisfy demand without increasing current air traffic.
Gareth Harper provided RHC’s vision of how existing capacity within Heathrow could be utilised, without the need for an additional runway, mixed mode, loss of alternation or night flights:
• Encourage larger aircraft and discourage smaller aircraft.
• Encourage higher seat occupancy.
• Make better co-ordinated use of London’s five main airports.
• Encourage more direct point-to-point services from regional airports.
He said increased code-sharing between airlines and an increase in aviation tax (offset by other taxes), through extending air passenger duty to transfer passengers, increase the rate of tax and possibly replace APD with a duty on slots.
Mr Harper said solutions proposed by RHC were economically more efficient than the proposed £10 billion cost of building the third runway at Heathrow.