One of the most read threads of 2019 discussed expansion of Heathrow (3rd runway due late 2020’s, flight path redesign due 2025), and expansion of London City airport (their Masterplan proposed to treble current flight numbers low over SE23, flight path redesign also due 2025). Here’s the link to the 2019 thread.
But now with a New Year = a new 2020 thread!
2019 was incredibly busy, with both airports busy planning expansion and issuing numerous, and simultaneous public consultations. Meanwhile many of those overflown by increasingly low and concentrated flightpaths complain about persistent and unreasonable noise, and increasingly about climate concerns.Many London local authorities including Lewisham and many MPs, including our own Ellie Reeves were persuaded to take a clear public position to defend the overflown against the local environmental impacts of further expansion.
Next up in 2019 will be London City publishing its Masterplan ‘consultation’ findings and a new Masterplan. But rather than go into all the detail (which some of you may have seen me do at the Forest Hill Soc AGM) here is a scene setter which looks at aviation expansion from a climate emergency stance. I thought it well worth a read.
Extinction Rebellion Newham is hosting a peaceful event at one of the main Canadian pension fund backers of London City Airport on 11 Feb. Leading XR spokesman Rupert Read is coming.
Campaign group HACAN East are supporting- we have recently written to key executives in investor organisations pointing out the strong opposition across London to expansion of this airport.
And at the Lewisham Climate Emergency forum this week, Cabinet member Sophie McGeevor confirmed that Lewisham would continue to oppose expansion.
this morning it feels like the efforts of local community groups and the Forest Hill Society have been worthwhile. At yesterday’s meeting of their Consultative Committee London City Airport backed down and withdrew their proposal to end the weekend flight ban and to extend their operations at the beginning and end of the day. Thanks to everyone who wrote, responded, delivered leaflets under the flight path, sent a postcard, spoke to an MP.
Thanks are also due to local MPs Ellie Reeves and Janet Daby, plus several local Councillors including Leo Gibbons and Sophie McGeevor who all totally understood and supported our argument and have ensured that Lewisham residents have been properly represented.
We’ll never know what swung it, but we campaigners are declaring victory, they don’t come frequently. I am convinced that the public campaign including mass postcard campaign from HACAN , our XR demo last month at the London offices of the airport’s owners, the mass anti expansion campaign at Bristol (same owners) , plus our behind the scenes lobbying at the GLA, with Sadiq Khan’s advisors, with AM’s plus with quite a few MPs, and many Councils influenced a wave of anti expansion responses to their consultation from individuals, Borough Councils and MPs. We also lobbied the executives from their owning Canadian investors. And their planning authority, Newham. I don’t think they are ready to apply for expansion planning permission to Newham now. Looks a bit toxic publicly after the Heathrow supreme court and Bristol council decisions, even if they are appealed.
Obviously the air industry is in disarray right now- so, having flown their expansion kite, its not a bad time for them to put expansion plans on a shelf for a while, whilst appearing to have listened to feedback.
For the first time yesterday I thought the CEO appeared as though he understands what the London opposition is about. (He’s under enormous pressure to deliver value to the overseas shareholders who paid £2billion for the Airport). Instead, I picked up yesterday that they plan to differentiate themselves by becoming the leading world airport on use of green (hmm…) fuel and electric/hybrid planes. New strategy. They will publish their new Masterplan by end of the month.
Next week we will press on with the launch to MPs in Westminster of an independent economic report that will closely examine the economic claims that City made in their draft plan.
Where it leaves us is where we were when City launched the expansive draft plan last summer. That is with noisy overlapping flight paths over SE London with Heathrow, and still City have permission to increase flight movements over the present day level within existing planning permissions. The line that we took last year is still a good one - that no expansion should be even considered until such time as the overlapping flight paths over London have been satisfactorily sorted out.
So with the immediate threat of new Heathrow and City expansion at least delayed for a couple of years, local focus moves to ensuring that the Airspace Modernisation (= sort out the flight paths) project, delivery due 2025/26 involves close cooperation between the two airports, with a view to improving the double/simultaneous overflights of SE London, and increasing the altitude of planes from both before their final approaches. The Forest Hill Society is engaged with periodic stakeholder workshops at both airports pushing them to work together and not lose focus on SE London as they push their two projects along.
6 Mar '20
Well done @ThorNogson and everyone else involved, as you say victories don’t seem to come that often and it’s clear from your posts how much work from many people has gone into this. Good stuff!
6 Mar '20
Outstanding result. Congratulations to all those working effortlessly on the committee and with your partner organisations.
The sun came out to celebrate.
6 Mar '20
Great news and a great result! Well done everyone!
6 Mar '20
Well done @ThorNogson and thanks for sharing back to the forum.
Hopefully this kind of successful pressure on airports will help accelerate the transition to quiet electric aircraft as battery energy density improves.
6 Mar '20
Yes hope so. I heard Cranfield Aerospace say on BBC the other day that commercial airliners on electric power are 2-3 decades away. They are currently developing a kind of electric flying car for 5 people by the sound of it. The London City CEO said a bit less time for commercial flights. But said massive investment going into the ideas.
6 Mar '20
It is good news. It’s also a reminder of how dependent we (citizens) have become on volunteers like yourself. It is scandalous and disgraceful that our supposedly representative bodies - Local Authorities and Mayors, Greater London Authority and London Mayor, and Westminster itself - have negligently allowed a situation to develop where human habitat becomes unliveable.
6 Mar '20
As much as I support HACAN and the volunteers, we have a growing population and economy, so we cannot hold off airport expansion forever without damaging opportunities for people, and limiting the supply chains we all rely on for our quality of life. Our leaders aren’t necessarily “negligent” - they are just trying to balance the priorities of everyone, and that can’t be an easy job.
The best hope we have, IMO, is new technology, and new airports built near the South and East coasts to avoid over-flying urban areas.
There’s only so far we can go with zero-sum strategies
6 Mar '20
Well done and thank you to all involved.
7 Mar '20
I had the following recent assurance from Heathrow and London City about my concerns that they are not in fact jointly planning flightpaths and cumulative noise impacts…we will watch closely.
'Thank you for your feedback regarding the recent workshop at Heathrow and the airspace programme in general. As you’re aware, Heathrow and London City Airport are both reviewing their airspace in line with the CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy and CAP1616.
I would like to assure you that all major airports in the South East are working together to ensure that airspace redesign is undertaken in a collaborative way, ensuring that the resulting airspace design is efficient for the airport and takes account of cumulative noise impacts.
We cannot say at the moment what specific airspace changes will occur over Forest Hill because design options have not been fully developed and consultation hasn’t yet occurred. However please be assured that London City Airport and Heathrow are working closely, along with ACOG, to ensure that each airport considers airspace change in a collaborative way throughout the CAP1616 process rather than in isolation. '*
3 May '20
Everyone must have noticed that it is a different experience with London City Airport closed and very low flight numbers in to Heathrow. A new survey asks people from all London postcodes under Heathrow flight paths to report on what difference they are noticing at the moment. please consider completing this. Hope we can make sure SE23 gets a few responses so we are properly represented. Takes just a few minutes.
3 May '20
The difference is certainly noticeable and together with generally less traffic on the South Circular it’s now almost as quiet as being at my family home in Hampshire! The air is definitely less polluted as well but I’m not sure how much that is due to less air traffic as opposed to less road traffic. The worry is how much we’ll notice the changes even more when things eventually start to return to normal! Survey completed.
13 May '20
Four flights coming into Heathrow in quick succession, all at around 4.30am, all from Hong Kong. So bloody loud. I’ll put in a complaint but really hoping this is an anomaly and not a regular occurrence.
Historically flights from Hong Kong have always been some of the first arrivals into Heathrow every morning however this morning’s arrivals landed earlier than scheduled. Strangely though the Virgin flight on your screenshot isn’t displaying on Heathrow’s flight arrivals or Virgin’s or Flight Radar’s!
13 May '20
that’s an early wakeup. Heathrow always argue that the very early morning far east flights are very important to their business as a hub airport as they allow business passengers time to get an early connection to elsewhere in Europe. They have a regulated allowance of night time flights which allows them to fly in at times when we are usually asleep. Looks as though this was worse in our area today, because they were using the southern runway, so they lined them up in a procession over Greenwich, Brockley, Nunhead at about 4500 ft.
All showed up on the Heathrow Webtrak.
Thanks for the responses. Way back in the precovid there used to be a 4.45 ‘redeye’ arrival from the Far East that would always wake me up. Rarely have they arrived at 4.30 and four in quick succession. Very unusual.
Who knows what will happen air travel wise now but I cautiously predict no 3rd runway at Heathrow but Gatwick will cease to exist so Heathrow will absorb the demand and sadly (eventually) return to its old levels of business /noisiness.
2 Jul '20
News is that both Heathrow and London City have stopped work on the redesign of arrival and departure flight paths. Along with the other 18 airports in the South of England. Without the CAA sponsored ‘airspace infrastructure’ project, called FASI-S, there will be no change to the low altitude London City path over Catford/Forest Hill/Dulwich, or any change to Heathrow either. Just the steady build back up to where we were. Might take 3 years though. FASI-S was due to be delivered in 2024/25.
Meanwhile, this is what Heathrow has just reported to its Community Noise Forum and overflown communities.
'As you will be aware, we wrote to you at the beginning of April to inform you that Heathrow would be moving to single runway operations due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
We recognise the importance of keeping local residents and stakeholders updated on any significant milestones or changes to our operations, and so the following briefing aims to give you an update on the current situation, and our medium to longer term expectations as the airport begins to recover from these unprecedented times.
COVID-19 and operational impacts
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Heathrow’s operations with our latest traffic figures showing a continued decline of 97% in passenger traffic compared with the same time in 2019. This has consequently meant that the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow has been significantly lower than we would normally expect.
During 2017-2019 we averaged around 1,300 flight movements per day. In contrast, over the last three months these figures have reduced to an average of 845 (March), 177 (April) and 223 (May) a reduction of around 90% at its lowest point.
With the announcement that the Government will relax quarantine measures from lower risk countries - and as other countries begin to ease travel restrictions and emerge from lockdown - we are expecting to see an increase in passengers flying through Heathrow. Many airlines have already indicated that they will begin gradually resuming services in July to coincide with the easing of restrictions.
Resuming of services will consequently mean an increase in the number of flight movements from July compared to what we have been seeing. Based on our latest forecast and the information we currently have available to us - we are expecting to see between 300-450 flight movements a day during July - although this may vary, as airline schedules are continuously being revised due to the current circumstances and are therefore much more unpredictable the further ahead you look.
Whilst we expect the number of flight movements to increase, they will still be relatively low, and so we will continue to consolidate our operations by operating on one runway until flight movements reach around 45% of our normal operations. At this point, we’ll return to operating on two runways.
We recognise that any increase in the number of flights following a sustained period at lower levels is likely to be more noticeable to overflown communities, and although there will be no more noise than before the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to make you aware that this is what we expect to see from July.
We can also assure you that Heathrow remains committed to finding ways to reduce the impact of our operations. For example, although our airspace and operational projects are all on pause as we focus our efforts on recovering our operation from the impacts of COVID-19 – we have extended the Slightly Steeper Approaches trial, with the aim of completing the Airspace Change Proposal to make it a permanent procedure in 2021.
Slightly Steeper Approaches for arriving aircraft (3.2° as opposed to 3.0°) have been shown to provide noise benefits to communities living close to an airport. Between 2015 and 2017 we ran two trials to investigate how Slightly Steeper Approaches would impact Heathrow operationally, whilst at the same time attempt to measure the benefit in noise reduction that could be achieved. Local communities supported the trials and results demonstrated that a small noise benefit can be provided whilst experiencing no negative environmental or operational dis-benefits.
Last month we published our current view of the future forecast. It concluded that we expect passenger numbers for 2020 to be down by 64% to 30 million, and although we expect passenger demand to steadily increase over the remainder of 2020, it is unlikely to be back at previous levels until after 2022.
Whilst we want aviation to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, we will continue to deliver on our Noise Action Plan and work with our industry partners such as the airlines and NATS to ensure Heathrow continues to get quieter into the future.
We recognise the importance of communicating transparently through this process and so we will provide regular updates to all of our stakeholders on our progress.
8 Aug '20
Ah… I hear that City has reopened
8 Aug '20
Yes it’s been open for a few weeks, but we’ve had westerly winds so no arrivals over us.
Wind changed to light easterly yesterday meaning for the next few days we get Heathrow and City together.
At least London City can’t fly from lunchtime Saturday to lunchtime Sunday and both airports are operating at only a small% of their usual numbers.
Who’d want to expose themselves or families to airports and flying atm though, unless you really have to.
8 Aug '20
I think I’d be more concerned about the Tube ride to Heathrow at the moment.
I want to go up to Scotland to see my family in the next few weeks - as I’ve missed a few family occasions and haven’t seen them since Christmas. And am debating whether an hour’s flight is better or worse than a 5 hour train journey in terms of risk and likelihood of others keeping masks on. Depressingly the flight is less than half the train fare…
If I owned a car, I’d probably drive up as the least risk. Somehow I don’t think my usual cycling mode of transport is a great option this time
8 Aug '20
One hour flight plus time for check in, security, and arrival.
8 Aug '20
I know… but door to door journeys are still 4 hours v 7 hours.
It’s the really enclosed bit that I’m weighing up as should be easier to avoid people not wearing masks at the station/airport. Are plane HEPA filters better than a train’s air-con? And the train goes through bits of the country which have higher R numbers than London at the moment…
But social distancing is likely to be better on the train… even if people are less likely to keep masks on for the full enclosed journey.
8 Aug '20
The air in a plane has HEPA filters and the air is renewed every 4 minutes according to our Queasyjet blurb.
8 Aug '20
Tricky one, and there seem no rights and wrongs. Really hard to weigh it all up when we have so little information to help. Is each hour on a plane with cramped seating and no social distancing a higher or lower risk than 4 hours on a more socially distanced train? Who knows.
With planes, there have also been daily pics of large numbers queuing in close proximity at airports at security/passport control and at least trains avoid that. Maybe I’d feel more in control of my own actions, interactions and events with the train option.
I suspect that the risk of any one individual catching Covid on any given mass transport journey is miniscule. But then so is the risk of any one person catching it in a pub- but we still know clusters have happened in some.
9 Aug '20
In the rush for passport control at Stansted social distancing went out the window. Thank goodness for masks.
24 Nov '20
Very few aircraft in the sky right now, and the industry is desperate to reintroduce leisure flights and reduce quarantine times for passengers. So noise over SE23 will eventually climb back to its 2019 levels again over time, about 3 years.
So how are the noise interests of the overflown to be represented as they build-back-not necessarily-any-better? Not by the Civil Aviation Authority or the Dept for Transport for sure.
But ICCAN, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise , 2 years into its mission, is asking for views on what it should do next.
Critics say ICCAN is a talking shop, providing cover for unlimited expansion of the sector. I’ve met their Head Commissioner a few times, and that’s not what I think, though the pace of meaningful change in aviation is glacial.
To challenge airports and their industry on noise, flight paths and so on, I and others have had to become more expert than we should ever have to be. Without expert resource there is very little the overflown can do. ICCAN is now suggesting it should become a statutory body, with powers to set standards, be a statutory consultee on planning applications and airspace change.
I agree, and will be attending a focus group at ICCAN for the Forest Hill Society in a couple of weeks. Better to have ICCAN there with expertise to keep aircraft noise firmly on the agenda, than for it to either not be there or to have no power to influence anything.
To put your view there is a very easy read 10 page document and questionnaire here.
Not many aircraft over us at the moment, but thought some would be interested in seeing the type campaigning that is going on around night flights - the government has a consultation ending in a few days on national night flights policy from 2024.
One of the most common complaints in SE23 is of the early morning arrivals to Heathrow rumbling over us from 4.30 a.m. on warm summer mornings. Heathrow seem completely resistant to making any change to this, despite of course having runway capacity to spare at the moment if the will were there to reschedule these flights for later to spare Londoners the wake up .
Meanwhile and to recap, locally the Forest Hill Society has had strong support in its campaigning efforts from London Assembly Member Len Duvall, MP’s Janet Daby and Ellie Reeves, and Lewisham Cllrs not limited to but including Leo Gibbons and Sophie McGeevor to challenge in particular London City Airport’s low altitude concentrated flight path over Lewisham. This includes attending meetings with London City Airport with us, taking up our issues with Ministers , asking questions in Parliament and writing supporting statements to our submissions. Ellie gave further assurance of her support at the FHSoc AGM in late 2020.
25 Feb '21
Funny you bring it up as I’ve really noticed planes the past couple of weeks.
Had a really loud plane fly over at about 10-11pm in the direction of Heathrow the other night whilst trying to sleep. And had extremely low flying planes during the day at weekends towards London City, so low that I can see the airline logo (I’m short sighted and can’t watch tv without my glasses).
28 Feb '21
interesting you say that - I wonder if, as both airports pick up again, more people will notice and/or be bothered by the noise than they were before. With our parks and open spaces being used more than ever before, we’ve become used to the peace and quiet of outdoor spaces and gardens.
I realise it’s not a universally popular view, but I think while demand is so low it’s an opportunity to close London City airport for good, leaving the area to be developed for housing and business and improving the environment for millions across London. No need for an expansive, international, increasingly leisure flight oriented airport in the middle of our city when there are so many other airports with capacity within easy public transport range of all Londoners.
28 Feb '21
Yes, I agree .Closing it might not to be the best outcome but it should be discussed. The neighbours of the airport and those who live in the northern part of Thamesmead under very low airplanes have it much worse than us. Of course they tend to be poor in those areas so do not get considered. It is the interests of the City which are but maybe the airport is not going to be that important to the City in the future.
28 Feb '21
I’ve never seen a more complex survey, clearly designed to make people give up.
28 Feb '21
Couldn’t agree more from an individual person perspective. fortunately the major campaign groups are not easily deterred and have submitted detailed responses.
15 May '21
London City Airport Community Fund – 2021 second tranche
London City Airport Community Fund is open for applications.
If you are a charity or a not-for-profit organisation delivering project/programme for your local community, you may be eligible to apply for a grant between £300 - £3000.
Please have a look at the eligible boroughs and funding criteria to ensure your project falls within these. For more information and how to apply please visit our Community Fund website.
Applications are now open, deadline for this round is 5pm on Friday 28th May 2021. Awardees will be announced w/c 26th July 2021.
29 May '21
This feels like a bit of bribery for us SE23 residences who have been putting up with & complaining about the excess noise & pollution from London City airport low flying planes since 2016.
I am very sad to say the planes are back, yesterday was bad with one after another low flying excessively noisy planes over my house & garden. I dread easterly wind direction as that mean City airport are back. I have a app that tells my all the information on said planes, flying over me at between 1600 to 1800 feet. Not the 2000 feet the airport always states when I complain. It has been so nice to be rid of this intrusive damaging noise in the last year, we could live our lives as before 2016 & actually hear the birds song & have conversations.
30 May '21
agree the London City flight path over Lewisham is a disgrace. It is low altitude and in a single line over us since 2016. I attend (for the Forest Hill Society) their consultative committee meetings and despite support from Lewisham Council and our MP, the process of getting this changed for the better is unfortunately glacially slow and tied to a national airspace redesign programme.
As for the airport’s charity it is part of their overall PR strategy, though they would call it community engagement. Set up just a couple of years ago, I believe that they would have limited applicants to the one or two boroughs close to the airport if they hadn’t had pressure from activists. The charitable funds are available to Lewisham, sources of funds are hard to find, and I try to encourage local charities to apply. Even if they have to hold their noses while doing it.
6 Jun '21
At a meeting I attended in 2019 which was arranged by Lewisham East MP & attended by representatives from both Heathrow & London City airports, city airport had not included Lewisham in the grants to Lewisham. The reps for city airport we’re using the grants to justify their low flying aircraft as giving something back for the nuisance they were causing but on questioning conceded that Lewisham was not included. In fact Harmen who replies to complaints to London City Airport stated in answer to my complaints some years ago about low flying aircraft that LCA gives grant to areas affected by the airport. On questioning she agreed that Lewisham was not one of these boroughs, so this grant to Lewisham is recent & will be used as a justification for the disturbance & pollution to us in Forest Hill which will not help our fight to get an acceptable outcome for us long suffering residents.
6 Jun '21
Perhaps the new cameras for ULEZ October roll out should face the sky too! Considering they pump a lot more fuel & fumes out than my poor trusty stead, or are they all euro 6 compliant too?
11 Jun '21
Janet Daby MP made another excellent contribution concerning noise and flight paths over Lewisham in Parliament yesterday.
This concerns not making it worse but it is terrible now.
Was awful this morning - non stop from 6am. Then suddenly stopped soon after 7. There could surely be some way to push back those arrivals until a civil hour on a Sunday morning. That would require them to prioritise those affected by the noise and I don’t think we’re on their radar.
Please keep complaining as each complaint is given a reference number & counted for both Heathrow & London City Airports. Before covid their complaints departments would always say we don’t get that many complaints from Lewisham residents
14 Jun '21
How strange… they were using the Boeing 757 aka C32 which is usually the plane used by the vice-president or secretary of state or other senior officials. Not the Boeing 747. I wonder if that was to accommodate the shorter runway at Newquay?
14 Jun '21
Totally agree. Both airports have to publish complaint levels and analyse them by type, location and so on. London City reports theirs quarterly, so making a complaint at least once a quarter helps keep the numbers up.
With low numbers of complaints they are prone to making generalised claims about aircraft noise not being an issue for many people.
14 Jun '21
Maybe Trump hasn’t given it back yet.
14 Jun '21
I have raised a noise complaint with Heathrow to add to the list.
14 Jun '21
My (default automated arrogant?) response to Sunday’s complaint FYI
18 Jun '21
I have had a slightly different reply to this, which is interesting and may be useful to know.
Thank you for contacting the Community Relations team. I am sorry you have been disturbed by planes using Heathrow.
As you are aware, the SE23 area is affected by arriving aircraft preparing to join the final approach path into Heathrow when we are on westerly operations.
There are no set routes for aircraft moving towards the final approach path and the point at which they join it will vary day to day depending on how they are sequenced by Air Traffic Control. However, the general arrival patterns have remained similar for many years.
COVID-19 has, and continues to have, a devastating impact on Heathrow’s operations. As a result we consolidated our operations and returned to ‘single runway operations’ on January 1st. This means instead of operating one runway for departures and one runway for arrivals, we see departures and arrivals on a single runway using mixed mode operations.
We are alternating which runway we use on a weekly basis instead of the daily alternation we provide normally. This is a temporary measure due to the substantial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on Heathrow’s operations. At present we are not able to predict how long we will need to operate in this way, but we will continue to review this situation and will look to revert to our usual operation when the number of daily aircraft movements significantly increases.
However, SE23 is an area that doesn’t benefit from the runway alternation system to the same extent as areas which are closer to the airport. I’ve attached a couple of maps showing that although your area is closer to the approach for Heathrow’s southern runway, even when the northern runway is in use some aircraft will cross from south to north to join the final approach for the northern runway. Of course, there will be many aircraft already established on the final approach, so the majority wouldn’t be doing this.
Heathrow’s airspace is one of the most congested in the world for a number of reasons: the proximity of four other major airports (Gatwick, Stansted, London City and Luton); the location of the four holding stacks; and the interaction between arriving and departing traffic. Taken together, these mean that until changes are made to the whole of London’s airspace through the Government’s modernisation programme, it will not be possible to make significant changes to how and where aircraft fly.
Due to the Expansion project pause and the COVID impact, our airspace change programme was paused and put under review. Heathrow remains committed to Airspace Modernisation and the UK Future Airspace Strategy Implementation (FASI) programme. At the recent Heathrow Community Noise Forum it was announced that planning is currently underway to consider an Airspace Modernisation Airspace Change.
We appreciate that for you and other residents the noise from aircraft is disruptive which is why minimising the impact of noise is a priority for Heathrow. For example, there are various noise abatement procedures in force to minimise the impact of arriving aircraft on both the local and wider community.
I would like to assure you that Heathrow is continuously finding ways to reduce the impacts of noise. For example, we provide a strong financial incentive for airlines to use the quietest planes currently available through the use of variable landing charges. Our Fly Quiet and Green programme is another step we are taking to encourage airlines to use quieter aircraft and to fly them in the quietest possible way. This has improved airline engagement on both fleet and flight performance.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call me.
Please be assured your complaint has been registered.
London City Airport is back, I expect many here have noticed. They seem to be flying their concentrated low altitude arrivals path over Lewisham even lower than usual.
On 18/19/20 July they were as low as 1750 feet when they reached Forest Hill according to their own tracking system.
City tell us that they are keen to get cracking with the redesign of this flightpath to give us some rest by introducing alternative routes or some kind of dispersal. This looks like being a long and dispiriting process. But they log complaints quarterly and it helps to show depth of local feeling if they have some from our area. Local MP Janet Daby has been pushing the Heathrow/London City double flightpath issue in Parliament and met with some local aviation campaigners very recently . She is keen to push further, and it looks as though she will meet with the aviation minister quite soon.
To complain about noise, and low flying a quick email to email@example.com will do the trick, include your address and postcode so they know where it came from.
In Horniman Gardens these aircraft fly about the length of a running track over our heads.
Here are a couple of screenshots showing the low flying of recent days. I have included some of these in my own recent complaints.
20 July . 1875 feet , 26 km from landing
Can I ask a stupid question? Obviously SE23 is quite hilly, is the height listed the height above sea level, or something else? I guess I am also asking, if it is sea-level, I assume it is therefore worse for those ‘higher up’ in SE23 so to speak?
20 Jul '21
Yes it’s above mean sea level. We live in a hilly area. When they go over, say, Torridon Road, Lowther Hill and Horniman gardens you can take some 300 feet off to reach the actual height above our homes. They are the length of a running track’ 400 m , above you if you are in the Tewkesbury estate.
21 Jul '21
Thanks for posting this. I definitely noticed the increased noise on Sunday (esp. very early in the morning), Monday and Tuesday and was wondering what has changed.
I will log some complaints too. What website/ app are you using to track the aircraft?
So pre 6.30 Sunday morning wake ups must be Heathrow, which also operates night flights.
We only see London City flights over us when the wind is from the east. This unfortunately tends to coincide with summer hot weather patterns when we are outside or have windows open.
22 Jul '21
Thanks, that’s really helpful.
22 Jul '21
Great to see Ellie Reeves MP today pushing in Parliament for Forest Hill against low flying aircraft in our area, from two London airports.
A useless answer, but it needs sustained effort.
24 Jul '21
As you say, a useless answer from Rees-Mogg, although perhaps useful to the aviation industry.
Meanwhile, someone who has benefitted more than most from air travel, is able to get aircraft diverted from her residence.
‘The Queen is set to benefit from a no-fly-zone being imposed over Windsor Castle, after complaining in the past about the “noise in the air” in the skies over her home.’
24 Jul '21
Terrible if it were true, but this article is completely false - I asked the question at the last Heathrow Community Noise Forum.
7 Sep '21
Aircraft noise particularly bad yesterday evening.
Interesting quantitative research here, the report a bit thin but staggering headline figures
7 Sep '21
Apparently BA and Lufthansa started flying their City routes again.
7 Sep '21
Was Lewisham Council’s response to the proposed 2016 concentrated flightpath ever put into the public domain?
7 Sep '21
I obtained Lewisham’s response to the 2016 London City Airport consultation via an FOI request and have used it in several ways, eg in letters and in meetings with London City executives. I think I probably also shared it with you ahead of a meeting we were arranging with them a couple of years ago? Also with Ellie Reeves MP and various current Councillors. I wanted to demonstrate how shabbily the Airport behaved during its ‘consultation’.
It was a letter from a Lewisham policy officer raising a number of excellent questions from LB Lewisham about the proposed changes to flight paths. The Airport did not respond, and then made the changes that introduced a low level concentrated flight path over Forest Hill that we still suffer from today.
18 Oct '21
And I believe the Council did not follow up?
It has been especially noisy this morning with both LCY and LHR jets overhead.
18 Oct '21
Both airports are now involved in developing design principles for flight paths to replace the current ones. Heathrow is slightly ahead of London City. I attended a workshop with Heathrow for the Forest Hill Soc a couple of weeks ago. It is a complex regulated process. Proposals and public consultations are expected next year.
We have just made some excellent progress with LB Lewisham. At the FHSoc AGM last week the Mayor committed that the Council are now to attend the two key regular forums where they can engage with and influence flight paths over Lewisham. That is to say the Heathrow Community Noise Forum and the London City Airport Consultative Committee, both of which I have been attending for several years as a lone voice from our area.
31 Oct '21
We can expect more air traffic into City airport as a result of the Government reducing Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights (within the UK) from April 2023.
9 Nov '21
Got woken up by a loud plane yesterday morning – not sure what time, but it was still dark outside.
9 Nov '21
The early morning planes from around 5am are arriving Heathrow long haul flights from Asia and Africa, a source of complaints across London. Like this one low over Forest Hill at 5.12 am today.
I noticed a procession from the US the day they opened up again, but my monthly update from Heathrow today says there will be little overall change in flight volumes.
"The following provides an update on the number of flight movements we expect to see at Heathrow during November.
"Last month we outlined how we expected to see between 690-950 flight movements a day during October, with a large range due to the half term holiday and the start of our Winter schedule at the end of the month. The lowest daily number of flights in the month was 704 (5 October) and the highest was 902 (31 October), well within our predicted range.
“Our forecast for November ranges between 730-900 flight movements a day, with significant daily variation throughout the month as we continue to see more traffic at the weekends than during the week. However, we expect November to plateau compared to October, and although the US is now open the additional traffic is offset by a reduction in short-haul leisure travel following the end of Summer.”
Since then I have attended workshops with Heathrow, who have been consulting with interested community groups and other stakeholders on the redesign of their flightpaths. They are at the stage (in a process regulated by the CAA) of developing the flight path Design Principles that they will follow as they completely redesign the flight paths over us.
There are some things that are non negotiable- the airport is where it is, and flights have at some point to line up with the two runways to take off and land. But with new navigation methods - effectively satnav for planes- there are multiple flight path and altitude options. Adoption of respite- that is multiple routes used in some kind of rotation - seems to be accepted.
I am also pleased with another thing that we seem to have persuaded Heathrow to adopt. ’Avoid overflying the same communities with multiple routes including those to/from other airports’ is a major win for us. It means that real attention should be paid by the designers to the low, crossing flight paths over SE23 with London City, something we have been campaigning for since 2017 or so.
Remember that at the moment SE London has Heathrow arrivals in westerly winds, and London City in easterly winds, so no respite days. One thing we keep hammering away at with both airports is that it is no good having Heathrow over us one day, and on their respite days we just get London City instead.
Anyway, here are the latest draft design principles. It is important to note that these have not yet been signed off by the CAA, and there will be a lengthy consultation process before complex paths are proposed and eventually adopted in several years time. Our focus is on pushing the two airports to work together and ensure that along with other campaign groups the voices of overflown Londoners are heard and taken into account from this early stage onwards.
Great work! I would love to get more involved in this. How can I help?
18 Dec '21
Thank you for all the work you have been & are doing with Heathrow. For me London City planes are by far the worse for low flying, pollution & noisy planes. Today planes on routes to London City were flying over Forest Hill at 1200 feet, the lowest I have experienced. I have complained with evidence of the low height to LC complaints department with the same automated reply & always say that they fly at 2,000 feet. There are also times when Forest Hill gets both Heathrow & London City aircraft flying overhead at the same time at different heights. When I see planes flying over head from the USA to Europe & beyond I worry that if any of the planes had problems we are right underneath
19 Dec '21
Thanks, I really appreciate your interest and support. yes I totally agree, I was in Horniman Gardens yesterday and noticed planes lower than I have ever tracked using Flightradar to track them. Please keep complaining! They have to log and report on the complaints. I know they just send standard replies, their 2000 ft claim is ridiculous and easy to disprove.
I will write an update on London City progress on flight path design in a few days.
The problem with London City is they follow a single track at very low altitude over SE23. We need the airspace redesign project to make them fly higher for longer, follow a continuous descent approach and for there to be alternative paths rotated in some way to give respite, not just the single one they currently have in easterly wind conditions.
19 Dec '21
Yes that’s right, the two airports change runway direction at different wind speeds, and it means that in light east wind conditions SE23 has Heathrow arrivals at about 4000 feet and London City at about 2000 feet at the same time. This is something that we think should be designed out in the national flight path design project.
Here is roughly what is happening. Multiple Heathrow arrivals curve over from the south while the single track London City planes arrive over SE23 from the east.
20 Dec '21
Thanks @ThorNogson for your always insightful comments and campaigning on this nuisance.
I’m a bit further south and suffer from some excessive noise when LHR bound craft hang a sharp left over Crystal Palace to begin their approach. There was a story that the aircraft designers in an effort to reduce the noise of aircraft overhead used the combination of engines and airframe to direct more sound out sideways. Hence when they bank the benefit is negated.
Or is it simply that when banking aircraft loses lift and the pilot is increasing thrust to compensate? Or is it pure imagination?
20 Dec '21
yes, here’s a pic showing one hour in 2019 of the four Heathrow stacks, it will be the south west stack approaches that curve over Crystal Palace area.
Worth noting that in the flight path redesign and new navigation method the 4 stacks will no longer be required.
I can’t find a reference right at the moment, but I think I’ve seen pics of a ‘cone of noise’ under an aircraft. If the aircraft is low and in level flight the cone at ground level is small in area but noisy. If the aircraft banks then the cone shadow on the ground is bigger , spread over a larger ground area, and a little less intense. But also , as the aircraft turns in level flight more power is needed, which is noisier.
So I think you make a very good point - in our area both Heathrow and London City planes are turning a long curve at low altitude, so sound is spread around.
Seasonal aircraft noise /flight path update Part 2- London City. City airport flies low over us in east wind conditions - such as the past 5 days or so, and frequency is well down on peak in 2019 for obvious reasons. But they expect to come back strongly.
The SE23 problem is that they fly a noisy single track and accurate line at 1600-2000 feet directly through SE23, over the same homes every time. They designed this arrivals path in 2015 against minimal protest, since they gave this concentration of flight paths minimal publicity.
As with Heathrow, London City now have to redesign all paths, both takeoffs and landings, and there is a chance that the SE23 situation will improve. These are the Design Principles agreed with the CAA. Forest Hill Society made strong representations into the Design Principles. We did not get everything we wanted agreed, but there are some hopeful points.
’Avoid overflying communities with multiple routes, including from other airports’ is key. Because we have something similar recently agreed by Heathrow. So in theory they must work together to stop SE23 being under both of their arrivals routes. We’ll see; this is going to take some time.
We did not persuade them to commit to a Continuous Descent Approach, ie stay much higher for much longer. This, we think , is because as their CEO said a couple of weeks ago ‘We need Heathrow to lift their lid’. That is bad news. Making altitude and noise improvement by City airport conditional on Heathrow flying higher is the start of an airport blame game we do not want to see.
One commitment in the Design Principles should bring respite for SE23. ’Provide predictable respite routes’. London City is ahead of Heathrow in the airspace design process, and I and their Consultative Committee have very recently had advance sight of some very early draft route designs. City are clearly considering a second flight path over SE London, which would enable their flights over SE23 to be alternated between two paths in some way - effectively halving their traffic for those living under the current path. Good news for some, but perhaps less so for others.
But if they can combine the extra paths with flying higher for longer and create air space where they do not cross flight paths with Heathrow over the same communities that would seem to me to be as good an outcome as we can get.
So campaigning wise, we don’t have anything to shout about at the moment, but I’m sure there will be a massive bunfight when all of this goes to public consultation! As I mentioned in my update for the Forest Hill Society, we should expect LB Lewisham to be helping to fight our corner when needed, as well as MPs Ellie Reeves and Janet Daby.
So seasonal greetings to everyone here who has taken an interest, it has been great to have occasional feedback, it is a slow process and we will continue with discussions in 2022 I’m sure.
22 Dec '21
This seems at odds with one of the general principles of concentrated flightpaths, which seems to be that it’s better politically to annoy fewer people and load all the pain onto a smaller minority.
22 Dec '21
Nevertheless they have both agreed this principle.
Both airports aim to minimise the numbers of people ‘newly overflown’ as well. And both realise that sometimes Design Principles can oppose each other. So the process will involve judgements and compromises which ACOG and the CAA will oversee. Hence my reference to bunfights!
24 Dec '21
If I am outside locally and planes are flying overhead, I take a noise measurement on my phone using the ExPlane App. I was reading notes about the App and I see that Rotterdam City Council has accepted the App as providing useful and objective data on aircraft disturbance. Is anyone aware of any similar arrangement in the UK? Does anyone know what data is used by Mayor Khan? As far as I am aware City Hall has no environmental officers of its own, and we know that Lewisham doesn’t take noise measurements, so it appears that organs or government would rely on data from the airports.
24 Dec '21
all airports have multiple fixed noise monitors set up around them and report in detail against their noise objectives, set by their local authority. They also use mobile monitors from time to time -eg I think you were involved when London City noise consultants set up a mobile monitor on the Dulwich/Forest Hill border a couple of years ago.
There was an interesting webinar by UECNA on what equipment you would need to do it yourself a month or so ago. UECNA.EU