Aviation noise

MQT on 2013-06-19
Session date: 
June 19, 2013
Question By: 
Murad Qureshi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What have you done to reduce the noise disturbance experienced by residents affected by the Heathrow flight paths?


Answer for Aviation noise

Answer for Aviation noise

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Thanks. Murad, thank you very much for that and you have been consistent for a long time, like Conservative Members here. You have spoken up against a third runway at Heathrow and changes to operations at Heathrow that would adversely impact Londoners, in particular west Londoners.

You ask what I have been doing to reduce noise impacts. The most important thing obviously was to campaign against in 2008 and effectively help to stop the creation of a third runway. We have called for the Government to prohibit flights at Heathrow between 11.00pm and 7.00am when most people are asleep. I have called on the Government to ensure that Heathrow is subject to much more rigorous and independently assessed noise monitoring plus a penalty regime. We are looking very closely at the impacts of all the changes to the new operational freedoms that are being advocated. I do not want to reiterate the numbers but you and I are probably at one on a lot of this.

Murad Qureshi (AM): Thank you, Mr Mayor, for that response. I will just inform you that 94% of Hounslow residents in response to the council's community consultation on an expanded Heathrow demanded that there be better noise mitigation. What I need to really know is what you are doing in the here and now given that there is no sign that you are going to be revising the Mayor's Ambient Noise Strategy - this document here has not been touched for almost ten years now - and also the fact that one of the first things you did was to cut your noise team in 2008 and outsource it.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry. Just to repeat, the most important thing that we are doing to try to improve things is to prohibit flights out of Heathrow between 11.00pm and 7.00am. At the moment we have a very difficult situation. What I worry about is that we have a strong body of opinion now in the Labour Party that thinks it is absolutely essential to keep Heathrow at the minimum as it is and to allow no real prospect of long term improvement for the people of west London. I think there is obviously a lot of pressure coming from the various unions that are there and I can understand what is going on. For my own part, I think that is the wrong way forward. I think we should be looking at and you hear a representative of that view from John [Biggs]. It is a view taken by some parts of the Labour Party. It is not my view. I think that we should be looking for a better solution. We already have in Heathrow an airport that produces a third of the excess aircraft noise pollution suffered by all populations in the whole of Europe. They measure 76 airports around the EU for excess noise pollution. Heathrow generates about 28% of all that excess noise pollution. Three quarters of a million people in London or 766,000 suffer excess noise pollution already. We want to bring those numbers down, not up.

Murad Qureshi (AM): Just one brief comment. The reality is there are different standards of mitigation between the airports. That is the issue you are missing and you need to tackle that.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If there are further ideas that you wish to bring for doing that, then I am more than happy to discuss it. Can I suggest you talk to Daniel Moylan [Aviation Adviser to the Mayor of London] about your ideas?

Tony Arbour (AM): Do you not think it scandalous and outrageous, Mr Mayor, that Heathrow has recently issued a statement suggesting that Heathrow is going to be closed and there will therefore be devastation right across west London unequalled since the Luftwaffe? Do you not think that it needs to be said loudly and clearly that it has never been your intention or indeed the intention of those people who live near the airport and who are the principal protesters that Heathrow should go? What we and you have been advocating is that there be additional aircraft capacity possibly in the Thames Estuary which will take most of the traffic which goes to Heathrow but Heathrow in itself will continue to be an economic driver for west London.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think certainly you could imagine a much reduced airport there in the future. But do not forget that Heathrow at the moment only supplies about 3% of the economic activity of west London. That corridor is already one of the most dynamic and competitive parts of the whole of the United Kingdom (UK) economy. You could imagine that with a four runway hub airport elsewhere, a lot of that space could be released. We have talked a lot about the shortage of housing. That land could be released for fantastic quality housing. You have an area roughly the size of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. You could imagine new high tech industry, university campuses and an incredible employment future for that area.

In the meantime, the economy of this city and this country would be driven forward even faster by our ability to compete once again with other European countries in aviation capacity. We are losing that. We are losing jobs. We are losing market share to Schiphol, to Frankfurt, to Paris. We are seeing jobs that should be British jobs migrate overseas. It is an absolute tragedy and we need to regain our competitive edge. That is why I think we need a new airport