Aircraft Noise over SE23 [2017-2018]

Admittedly, I live over the border in Dulwich constituency but the planes fly directly overhead and as per the last line, I didn’t find that letter remotely helpful

1 Like

Here’s my take on some of the positive things that have happened over the last few months as a result of letter writing and actions by SE23 residents.

In August I published a report (‘SE London, No Respite from aircraft noise’) mapping aircraft activities over our area and criticising the lack of joined up thinking by the authorities; links can be found further up this thread.

As a result of this, I was invited to address the Heathrow Community Noise Forum (HCNF). My presentation, summarising the issues (as I see them) for SE23 was to a Heathrow director and managers, the Deputy Director of Aviation at the Dept for Transport, and similar level bods from Civil Aviation Authority, BAA, local councillors from across west London and Heathrow campaign groups. Details of what I said are here.

As a result, we now know that the interests of SE London are known by Heathrow, and our objective that they work with London City on this and on ‘London’s airspace modernisation’ has been heard.

I was invited to join the HCNF, and I notice that the Aviation Minister, Baroness Suggs, referred to the HCNF discussion of SE23 issues in a letter to @stepover shared on here yesterday.

Only 37 responses were made to the recent London City Airport Noise Management Plan consultation, I estimate about one third using information shared on SE23.Life. Yesterday, City published their detailed response. The good news is that they have adapted their noise plan to make recognition of the need to work with Heathrow on flightpath crossing, pay attention to noise of arrivals over SE London, the complaints of low flying across SE London and many others. So we have successfully placed our issues on their agenda. There is a lack of new measurable outcomes, but hey, we are new to this and it’s a start.

Separately, at the Forest Hill Society AGM last week, it was resolved that FH Soc would take forward local aircraft noise issues as part of its portfolio of community interests where it will seek to influence affairs. I will be accepting the invitation to the Heathrow Community Noise Forum as a representative of FHSoc. A small group from FHSoc are developing our plans. These will include seeking engagement on air noise and pollution from our Council and elected representatives. It will also include sharing information with other civic societies with similar experiences of Heathrow and City planes – to that end I have been invited to talk with the Dulwich Society in early December. If any local people here, FH Soc member or not, would like to be involved in discussing and developing a simple plan for FHSoc with us, please pm me.

Some of you will know of Plane Hell Action, based in Camberwell, which campaigns for SE London interests on City and Heathrow issues. Through them and the No Respite report, we will be meeting with the GLA Environment Committee Chair and GLA representatives later this month to view overflying aircraft together and to put forward SE London’s environmental interests on Heathrow and City flights over London.

It can be dispiriting to receive standard letters from the air industry and government – they are well resourced, have well rehearsed lines to take, and polished PR. I hope some here will agree there are small signs that we are beginning to effectively represent our area - I have to say in the absence of any interest from LB Lewisham so far.


some new info about aircraft noise levels in the local press. Aircraft from both London City and London Heathrow routinely exceed 65 decibels as they fly over Horniman Gardens. City airport planes are at one every 4 minutes at peak.


Some news received from London City Airport today. They confirm that they have recently installed a noise monitor in Forest Hill to monitor noise levels created from aircraft using Heathrow and London City airport (we don’t know exactly where). Also that there are joint meetings taking place between the two airports to discuss altitude restrictions and to explore whether any changes can be implemented to help alleviate the noise experienced by residents in the area.

In the short term these are two things we have been asking for, so a good result for all who have taken the time to register concerns with both airports and with our MPs - including Ellie Reeves who I know has been very supportive in following up complaints from our area with London City in particular.


Great news. I hope the noise monitor is located somewhere representative - under the LCY concentrated flight path or up at the Horniman.


Poor news and my sympathy this week for all who were troubled thru the summer by noise from London City aircraft flying a concentrated flight path at 1600 feet over Forest Hill, Dulwich and Herne Hill. The long awaited CAA report on the changes of 2016 is out, and they say it will not change. The upshot is that fewer people are overflown than before, but much more frequently and that is exactly what was planned.

"Environmental Conclusion

  1. The noise impacts are consistent with the impact anticipated in the airspace change proposal. On that basis, we consider that there has been no increase in the number of people significantly affected by noise as a direct result of the airspace change.

  2. As anticipated, there has been a net reduction in the number of people overflown, whilst there is also a proportion of the population that are being overflown more often.

  3. This Module, in conjunction with Module B, has not achieved the reduction in annual CO2 emissions that was expected. Instead these two Modules have resulted in an increase in CO2 emissions."

Here is a short summary blog.

More positively, representing the Forest Hill Society I attended a meeting with the Environment Committee of the Greater London Assembly this week, where I and others were asked to brief GLA Members on exactly what has happened, and how combined noise from two Airports affects residents. This ahead of their forthcoming meetings with the two Airports. It seems important that we keep briefing our elected representatives on how aircraft noise affects us, but this is a long term game.


Thanks for all your efforts on this ThorNogson. It is pretty tortuous from very early morning up here behind the Horniman.


Meeting the brand new Heathrow Community Engagement Board with a small group of south Londoners later today. HCEB is what?

‘Our purpose is to ensure that all key stakeholders of Heathrow Airport have the opportunity to contribute to decision making concerning on-going operations and any proposed future development of Heathrow Airport. We plan to promote meaningful and inclusive engagement, which has a demonstrable impact on decision-making at the airport. It will scrutinise and challenge Heathrow Airport’s consultation plans and activities, making recommendations for improvement. We will also hold Heathrow Airport to account for the commitments they have made as part of the development consent process.’

The SE23 issues about Heathrow I have in mind to talk about are:-

  • early morning wakeups
  • double overflight of Heathrow planes with London City ones, from Catford to Herne Hill
  • height/noise of planes over SE London many miles from landing at Heathrow
  • two stacks of arriving planes , from SW and SE of us overflying Forest Hill- Brockley corridor
  • asking how SE London interests can be included in future airspace discussions, not just those of people nearer the airport
  • asking how SE London Councils like Lewisham can represent us/be included in future airspace discussions.

A GLA Member from west London told us last week that noise and frequency are worse in west London. Well yes, obviously… but irrespective of that, trying to ensure that the environmental interests of SE London are heard and not overlooked by those who may incorrectly think Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich are not relevant to the discussion.

any additional thoughts very welcome.

1 Like

I do find the 05:30 flights coming in from the Far East and Africa rather disruptive. Haven’t quite worked out how the daylight saving changes impact this, but there seemed to be more activity at 04:30 this morning than usual (with Heathrow landings coming in from the east). This was a bit surprising as the cloud cover usually absorbs most of the noise.

However, having only recently flown back from GMT+3, I might still be a bit jet lagged, and getting back into the swing of noisy skies.

The problem, as others have said, is the frequency of planes taking exactly the same route. When they are about four minutes apart and are audible for at least a minute (possibly two from high vantage points), it doesn’t give much time to get used to the constant rumble or the silence.

1 Like

I do think the number 1 issue is the “flight path superhighway” into City. As far as I know it’s unique in its frequency, low altitude and victimisation of the same minority of residents. We’re Londoners, of course we all expect and accept all sorts of noise, but to arbitrarily (and essentially without consultation) build a “plane motorway” 1300 feet above the heads of SE London residents that focuses all the misery of flight path noise onto the heads of an unlucky few seems to me to be completely unjustifiable. Given the clear association with stress, anxiety and mental health, what’s it going to take the CAA to reconsider? A spate of suicides under the City flight path perhaps?!

[EDIT: Sorry I note the board you are meeting today is concerned with Heathrow engagement and therefore the City flight paths are perhaps only tangentially relevant, but I stand by the comments anyway]


yes, agree totally, that has to be the no 1 London City Airport issue.

Although HCEB is only concerned with Heathrow, we made sure they are fully aware of what I suggest is a recent failure of airspace planning and consultation that has allowed Heathrow planes to fly further east since about 2013 bringing more planes over Brockley/Crofton Park/Forest Hill, and also to overfly London City plane route, which concentrated in 2016. This created a rugby ball shaped area from Catford to Herne Hill of double overflight- which in turn means people in this area never have a time with no overflying planes. Hard to accept that if this had been realised DfT, CAA and NATS might all have said fine, lets just do it anyway…

That aside SE London people on the ground had a very good hearing about Heathrow yesterday, and I believe our issues are now properly understood by this new independent body at this early stage of their planning.



Great news: Vicky Foxcroft has also developed an interest in this. I am pleased, as she didn’t respond to my email to her some weeks ago. There’s a public meeting in Brockley on 15 Nov - can I encourage everyone able to attend to come? Details here:


Some may recall that the GLA environment committee met with me, representing FH Society and other SE London people a couple of weeks back to explore what the aircraft issues are in our area?

Late notice, but the GLA Environment Committee are today putting questions to execs from Heathrow and London City at 10am. I expect them to ask about noise and pollution, Heathrow expansion and low flying over our area, and about double overflight. A transcript will be available in due course, but it will be webcast here.

Should give us a pretty good idea of the corporate approach to environmental issues from the two airports.


I watched the relevant section of the meeting on noise and was encouraged to see the committee taking it seriously and asking some tough questions. I was less encouraged by the stock evasive answers given by the representatives for Heathrow and City, so much so in fact that I felt compelled to contact Liam McKay ( - that email address is on their website in case anyone is concerned about data protection!) the COO of City (who was appearing on their behalf) directly and I also copied in Caroline Russell ( - ditto) the chair of the London Assembly Environmental Committee.

I won’t recite my letter in full but the central point was this:

"In between the regular deafening roars of aircraft, I heard Ms Russell ask you on 3 separate occasions about the impact the implementation of concentrated flight paths has on people living under them. On all 3 occasions you evaded the question, providing a rehearsed answer about the benefit to the many people who do not live under them and now have a reduced airport impact. That wasn’t the question Ms Russell was asking, so I’m going to try again on her behalf:

What is City Airport’s position on the thousands of residents who live under or near the concentrated flightpaths who were unaware of the imposition of the flightpaths and now find their lives completely ruined by the intolerable frequency and intensity of aircraft noise?"

Just in case anyone else feels compelled to contact Mr McKay you know where to find him… :arrow_up::wink::airplane::tired_face:


Liam McKay from City Airport made these points. London City plan and have permission from Newham Council to increase flights from 84k to 111k per year, that is by 32%. They plan to expand more into leisure flights, moving away from just being a business airport. They do not plan to change the concentrated flight path route; these new flights will all follow the same routes as now. During this year, 50% of their flights have overflown Forest Hill, not the usually quoted 30%. The size of planes landing at City is set to increase, he says the bigger jets will be about 4 decibels quieter.

The only good news here is that it genuinely seems that our pressure has encouraged them to work on a ‘case study’ with Heathrow which they refer to as the Dulwich area, regarding double overflight of arrivals from the 2 airports. There was a lot of talk about wanting to ‘understand the issues’. This might lead to something, and they promised to be open and transparent about this case study.

The City airport corporate view is quite clearly that by concentrating flightpaths they have removed flight noise altogether from a very large number of people. They seem unconcerned that they have achieved this by simply moving all the noise to a much smaller number of people, some of whom were not previously overflown at all. Predictably, complaint numbers have fallen as a result , but they get more repeat complaints from the same people.

Meanwhile Brendan Kelly representing NATS said he did not know about the noise impact of London City concentrated flight paths because he lives in west London. I will be writing to him.


Any idea why all they require is permission from Newham Council? Their planes have considerable impact in several other boroughs including Lewisham!

1 Like

If they intend to continue on with the policy of overflying tight corridors, then they need to put their hands in their pockets and, at the least, offer help with new windows etc for those impacted. Otherwise, they get all the benefit of more cash from airlines and passengers without any increase in their costs.

1 Like

Some really helpful posts on here. I have drawn on stepover’s and emailed Mr McKay at City Airport complaining along similar lines. Be good to inundate him.


the airport is located in Newham, so all airport planning has to go through them. Newham Council is a huge supporter of London City, because of the money and employment the airport brings to their area. It is not just Newham that has to approve - on aviation matters I believe increase of flight numbers will have gone to the CAA and Government level.
Regarding other Councils, their input is taken in the City Airport consultative committee. online, LCACC pages are where performance data of the airport can be found. Many Borough Councils are represented on LCACC, but Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth are absent. Their meetings are open to the public but I’ve not yet been to one. List of current members here.

1 Like

Yes on this point - Mr McKay told the committee yesterday somewhat misleadingly that City compensated people who suffered noise disturbance over 57dB (see here I have monitored (via a phone app) that City flights regularly exceed 55dB over my house so I emailed them and asked to arrange for them to provide me with noise insulation - to say I found their reply utterly pathetic would be an understatement - reproduced below, essentially you are eligible for compensation if you live within about 500 metres of the boundary of the airport…

The 57dB obligation refers to LAeq - the sound level in decibels equivalent to the total A-weighted sound energy measured over a period of 16hrs. This contour is reassessed annually and is produced by an independent noise consultant. Please see the below image which visualises this:

1 Like