Boris Island: Thames Estuary airport consultation gets underway

Discussion in 'Public Transport' started by theonlyidiotinthevillage, Jan 18, 2012.


Do you think an airport in the Thames Estuary is good or bad for South East London?

  1. Good

    34 vote(s)
  2. Bad

    5 vote(s)
  1. The government is to hold a formal consultation on controversial plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
    The study on the airport, championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, is due to be announced in March.
    Downing Street said no decisions had been made but ministers wanted to explore all options for maintaining the UK's status as a global aviation hub.
    But Mr Johnson - who is running for a second term as mayor in May - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he believed cost was not a issue and there would be plenty of sovereign wealth funds willing to invest in the project.

    "The difficulty would not be the financing of the airport per se... the difficulty obviously would be in the infrastructure, connectivity between the airport and central London, and that's why the consultation is essential," he said.

    The mayor said Heathrow was "fundamentally in the wrong place" - given the huge disruption it caused to the population of west London - and expanding it would only "entrench" that mistake further.
  2. The Resurrectionist

    The Resurrectionist Proper Local

    I think that this airport is off the Kent coast? So therefore none of the plans should fly over London at all, unlike those from Heathrow and City. That's got to be a good thing.

    I would like to tackle an issue has been previously written about elsewhere (so apologies to anyone that is fed up already with this)!

    I live in Lausanne Road (the SE15 side - so Nunhead not the Lewisham side). After a couple of weeks of respite due to easterly winds, the planes approaching Heathrow are back over Nunhead to the rate of one every 40 seconds. Last year I wrote to the Heathrow noise complaint as we started to hear three planes betweeen 5am and 5.30am going over Nunhead (they are not really supposed to start until 6am). The response I had (pasted below), explained that Nunhead "sits in an area that lies between the two Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) for the northern and southern runways, when the airport is on westerly operations. Therefore you will see and hear aircraft approaching both runways". Considering the fact that 'westerly operations' are on for 70% of the time on average (as explained below and on the Heathrow website), we see a lot of air traffic even if we are nowhere near Heathrow.

    This morning there were again three noisy planes flying over our house between 5am and 5.30am. I have asked Heathrow again for information on which routes these planes are flying as they are really noisy (I sleep with earplugs and I have double glazing but I still hear them) and I find it incredible they are allowed to fly at that time.

    I am hearing one plane every 40 seconds or so. I admit I might be particularly tuned into the noise they make, but it's a sound that I find very difficult to ignore as it's not continouous, but you hear it coming and it finally 'explodes' to then subside again. The it starts all over again within 40-50 seconds.
    The current 'agreement' between the goverment and Heathrow to limit night time flights ends in October 2012 and, as the e-mail says: "There is not and never has been a ban on flights operating to and from Heathrow Airport at any time of the night. However, in order to try to balance the interests of the local communities and those of the airport's users, there are restrictions and rules regarding night flights". This is basically saying they limit flights out of the 'goodness of their hearts'.

    What I am really concerned about is that, due to the fact that the third runway will not be built, Heathrow will decide to 'forego' on the goodwill and increase night time flights in order to make up for the loss of another runway.

    I have filled in the consulation, I have double glazing, I do sleep with earplugs so as to avoid being woken up at 5am every day (however people with kids CAN'T sleep with earplugs and they can - and do - cause ear infections if used regularly) and I am aware that I live in London and that large cities are noisy. I also know that because of this issue, I will probably leave the area in about 3 years' time (when my finances will allow) although I wish I didn't have to because it's a lovely place where to live.

    I wanted to know whether this is an issue that has been discussed in Southwark council meetings at all, particularly the future menace of the (albeit informal) agreement coming to an end in October 2012 and potentially making things a lot noisier for Nunhead residents. I know that Wandsworth Council has been very vocal with Heathrow about defending their residence's rights to respite (at least during the night) and it might perhaps be a issue that Southwark should start discussing well in advance. If it is not on the cards to discuss it, what can I do or who can I contact to bring this to the council's attention? Will this post suffice or do I need to write something more formal and to whom?

    I know that aircraft noise problems do not affect everyone in Nunhead so I apologise for the long post, but we might find that more people are affected in the future if operations increase as a result of the end of the night time flight agreement.

    Here is the response from Heathrow Noise Complaint:

    Heathrow Airport - Early morning arrivals:

    Thank you for your email enquiry on 18th April. We are sorry you have been disturbed by aircraft into Heathrow.

    Background information:

    Your property is in an area that lies between the two Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) for the northern and southern runways, when the airport is on westerly operations. Therefore you will see and hear aircraft approaching both runways.

    The ILS is explained in the enclosed arrival factsheet and is used to guide aircraft down to the runway. The ILS provides a glideslope down to the runway of 3° and so aircraft must join the ILS at the correct height for distance. Therefore once using the ILS, all aircraft will be at roughly the same height a particular distance.

    Current technology also dictates that the ILS must be in line with the runway. Therefore, any area beneath the ILS will necessarily be over flown by arriving aircraft.

    Wind direction
    Heathrow’s runways lie in an east/west direction, this is due to prevailing wind direction in the area of Heathrow and the safety requirements for aircraft to land and take off into the wind. The prevailing wind direction is from the west, this means that for the majority of the time Heathrow aircraft take off to the west and arrive from the east (over London). Westerly and easterly operations are explained in our arrival’s fact sheet.

    As explained above, it is when we are on westerly operations that your property will be over-flown. The annual split in recent years has been approximately 70% westerly and 30% easterly. The annual figures for 2010 were 66% westerly and 34% easterlies. Unfortunately, as the direction of operation is dependant on the wind direction, we cannot control or predict when which direction the airport will be operating in.

    Night flights / early morning arrivals:

    There is not and never has been a ban on flights operating to and from Heathrow Airport at any time of the night. However, in order to try to balance the interests of the local communities and those of the airport's users, there are restrictions and rules regarding night flights.

    The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for making the restrictions on the types of aircraft that can be scheduled to fly at night. In setting the restrictions the aim has been to maintain a balance between the need to protect local communities from too much aircraft noise at night and the operation of services where they provide economic benefits and are necessary in order to correspond with time differences and schedules around the world.

    We have enclosed our night flight's fact sheet which sets out the rules and restrictions in detail, specifically in relation to early morning arrivals. Generally speaking, each aircraft arriving before 06.00am will count towards the movement and quota limit which is explained in the fact sheet. The first scheduled arrival into Heathrow is at 04.50am but aircraft can and do arrival earlier than this. Additionally, you will see that the noisier aircraft types (QC 4, 8 and 16s) cannot be scheduled to land or take off between 23.30 and 06.00 hours. On average there are around 16 flights a night. The majority of these are early morning arrivals between 04:50 and 06:00 hours local.. Please note there is no change to the system at weekends.

    As you may be aware the night flights regime is reviewed by the DfT every five years. The current regime runs until the end of October 2012 and we are expecting the DfT to publicly consult on the new regime before that date. You may therefore wish to provide your feedback to any proposals as part of the consultation in due course.

    We confirm we have registered your complaint under reference 78752.

    Yours sincerely

    Flight Evaluation Unit

    The govt. is soon to consult on the question of night flights (see, and we hope that residents can rely on the council defending their interests and quality of life. Francesca also contacted Southwark cllr for Nunhead, Fiona Colley, who replied:

    I've checked with my colleague Cllr Barrie Hargrove, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Recycling and he's let me have a copy of the letter he sent to the Civil Aviation Association earlier this year on the subject of flights. He tells me that most of the work is being led through London Councils (the co-ordinating body for all 32 London Boroughs which conducts a lot of pan-London work) []. The letter includes the contact details for our lead officer at the Council, but I would suggest that would also be a good idea to contact Harriet Harman MP as this is very much a matter for national government as well as regional and local.
  3. Heathrow's definitely in the wrong place. This is the first and probably last time I shall agree with Boris Johnson about anything.
  4. Stuart

    Stuart South East Crusader

    Good to see Cameron's now publicly warming to the idea.

    The reality is the Government has no choice - they must either back third runway at Heathrow or a new airport elsewhere. 'Boris Island' is only practical alternative.

    For transport links the proximity to HS1, which already exists, is a great benefit. A spur would be built making St Pancras the place to go for the airport as well as the Eurostar. It truly will be International. Also, Stratford International will finally get services that partially justify the name. The Abbey Wood branch of Crossrail could also be extended from South East London to the airport as well.
  5. EdHammond

    EdHammond South Eastern Guru

    What, really?

    Reminds me of the failed Maplin Sands plans in the 1970s - that got as far as the construction contracts being tendered.

    It is, at first glance, a seductive idea (particularly bearing in mind the problems we have here in SE London - I'm never disturbed by the planes because I'm a ludicrously heavy sleeper but my wife is, every night). It does solve the capacity issue at Heathrow nicely as well.

    But the simple logistics of constructing a facility of that size and in a place where it would be particularly subject to rising sea levels and tidal forces do make it a really difficult proposition. And of course there are those connectivity issues (although I hadn't thought about the Crossrail extension which sounds quite nice).

    I agree that in the long run, it probably will happen and and Heathrow will go "freight only" but we're probably talking 2030/40.
    SE15 Mick likes this.
  6. SE Steve

    SE Steve Super-South-Easter

    IIRC an extension of the Abbey Wood branch is already safeguarded all the way to Gravesend, which is about two and half miles from the HS1 station at Ebbsfleet International.
  7. EdHammond

    EdHammond South Eastern Guru

    What, so there’s the prospect of CR1 being properly linked to the High Speed Rail system at both ends?

    This sounds dangerously like properly planned, well-integrated public transport. Routes being intelligently safeguarded and going to the right places, and future plans being made which seamlessly link in? This is dangerous, Continental thinking. If we don’t watch out we’ll end up having a proper national railway network by 2040, that takes people to the place they want to go in an efficient and straightforward manner – then what will we complain about? Worrying times.
    SE15 Mick likes this.
  8. Pete_Algiers_Road

    Pete_Algiers_Road Respected Local

    We can't have that Ed, that's the sort of limp wristed pinko thinking that makes Germany so superior to the UK and the conservatives won't like that...
  9. Pete_Algiers_Road

    Pete_Algiers_Road Respected Local

    I can't say I ever really notice the noise from the planes, or at least not to the extent that it disturbs me. We did have my wife's parents live with us for a few months a while ago and they did really notice it though.
  10. Tamsin

    Tamsin Super-South-Easter

    It has become quite grim again of late. Makes one want to go and prod the volcano in Iceland (provided one could get out in time!).
  11. Peckham Wry

    Peckham Wry Respected Local

    My parents (who haven't lived in London for 40 years) came to visit at Xmas and they mentioned the plane noise all day long, esp when we were in Peckham Rye Park. My Dad kept looking up in amazement and I actually said to him 'You look like you've never seen an aeroplane before.'

    So for this reason alone I'd support the new airport proposal. It makes much more sense for European and Asian flights if it was on the eastern coast anyway.
  12. Pete_Algiers_Road

    Pete_Algiers_Road Respected Local

    A friend of mine lives out in west London and the noise there really is incredible. When they fly over you can't actually hear conversation when you're outside.
  13. Bendr

    Bendr Proper Local

    I'm not sold on the idea of a new airport. London has six airports already - SIX! No other city in the world has anywhere near as many. That's seven runways in total, nearly twice as many as Schiphol and twice as many as Frankfurt.

    We need to take a more strategic view of how existing airport space and runways are rationalised. Heathrow is full, but there is capacity at London's other airports. The only airlines that need to use LHR are those that use it as a hub, i.e. Virgin; BA and partner airlines in oneworld; and BMI and partner airlines in Star Alliance. All other airlines should be strongly disincentivised from using LHR.

    Furthermore, BAA would have no interest in closing Heathrow, unless they were able to operate the new airport, and handsomely compensated for closing Heathrow. They have put a lot of investment into the airport in recent years: the new Terminal 5; Terminal 2; refurbished Terminal 4; Heathrow Express; etc. There, I've just increased the bill for the new airport by £billions.

    Furthermore, it makes no sense to spend many billions on a new airport when the country is already spending billions it can ill afford on HS2 to Birmingham. It's all very well to suggest that political will is all that's needed for Boris Island to happen but there's the small matter of £70 billion as well. Given that HS2 is going to hoover up pretty much all of the UK's transport expenditure during the '20s, I wonder what other, more worthwhile, public spending would have to be sacrificed in order to pay for the massive vanity project of Boris Island airport...

    And talking of HS2, if Cameron is now backing this proposal, why has he also just given the go ahead for the HS2 spur to Heathrow? Crossrail is already building a Heathrow branch as we speak. Joined up thinking, not.
    EdHammond and Michael_FH like this.
  14. Ravedog

    Ravedog South Eastern Guru

    I have serious doubts that by the time your children will have babies of their own, planes noise pollution and sky congestion will still be a problem in London.

    Call me sceptical, but with raising fuel prices, fossil fuel extraction peaking shortly (peaked already?) and economic downturn starting to bite tourism like everything else (according to latest think tank, in the UK and EU your pocket money is not expected to be the same as it was pre 2008 crash until at least 2020), I can only forecast a steep decline in air travel demand over the next 10 years and beyond.

    Electric engines might be good enough for cars, but I doubt they will get a large plane off the ground. And although I am not sure about hydrogen jet engines (but certainly not enough biofuel ), I expect soon only business travellers or fat cats families will be able to afford to fly.

    Should we not be investing in affordable housing, alternative energy sources to get to work, to heat and lit our homes cheaply, to ensure affordable quality food supplies for all, instead of buying an expensive new Armani suit for a dying man?
  15. 4onthefloor

    4onthefloor Fountain of Southern Knowledge

    Mambo Italiano.
  16. Ravedog

    Ravedog South Eastern Guru

  17. SE Steve

    SE Steve Super-South-Easter

    Interestingly, Boris has moved away from the "two floating oysters" island plan at Whitstable and has thrown his considerable weight behind Norman Foster's four-runway Hoo hub.

    Lord Foster says: "We propose a North-South spine, via a new orbital rail line around North London, linking HS1 (the Channel Tunnel rail link), HS2 (the planned high-speed link to the Midlands) and the Great Western, West Coast, Midland, East Coast and Anglia railways. This would establish a fast and direct link from the Channel Tunnel to the northern cities of the UK."

    "As well as being visually unobtrusive, the spine would also absorb noise and incorporate gentle cycle paths and hiking trails. Bypassing London as a northern orbital, it would continue to the Thames Estuary and connect to a new hub combining airport, a rail interchange, tidal power station, Thames Barrier and river crossing."

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