Heathrow Night Noise Worries Amid Extended Runway Maintenance

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Advocates have voiced concerns over potentially “intolerable” levels of night-time noise due to runway maintenance at Heathrow Airport for the upcoming two years.

Heathrow, the United Kingdom’s most trafficked airport, is implementing routine refurbishments to its runways, a project typically occurring every decade. These repairs will necessitate altered flight patterns and night-time runway rotations at the prominent West London airport.

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In response to the noise concerns, Heathrow has assured that they would endeavor to minimize the sound disturbance “as much as possible”.

The revised operations would result in flights scheduled later than 22:30 until 6:00 from Sunday evening to Friday morning being redirected to a single runway.

Under standard operations, the chosen runway alternates to provide residential areas some relief from the persistent noise. The refurbishment schedule, which commenced on Monday, is projected to conclude in the summer of 2025.

During the initial stretch of the operation, all airplanes will utilize the northern runway five nights a week, with normal runway alternations continuing on Friday and Saturday nights. This protocol change has alarmed the campaign group ‘Stop Heathrow Expansion’, who predict severe impact on residents living under specific flight paths.

The campaigners highlighted that residents living beneath the northern runway flight paths risk enduring nearly non-stop night-time noise during the commencement of the project, with the ordeal continuing for those under the southern runway flight paths in the subsequent phase.

Justine Bayley, chairperson of the campaign group, accepted the necessity of routine runway repairs, expressing frustration over the extended duration of the operation.

She asserted that a significant number of residents in the vicinity of the airport risk enduring disrupted sleep for an extended period, and also criticized the airport for allegedly failing to satisfactorily inform residents about the planned runway works.

A Heathrow representative countered that they had made efforts to inform residents about the impending works since March via community forums, local authorities, and newsletters.