This week, I met up with Nigel Milton (Heathrow’s Director for External Affairs) and Cheryl Monk (Heathrow’s Head of Community Relations), along with Molesey Councillor Steve Bax (who sits on Heathrow’s local Noise Community Forum). The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue since last year’s highly disruptive flight trial paths over Molesey (and Walton). I live under the path, so I hear the noise first hand. Two interesting points emerged from the meeting in that regard. First, no further flight path trials are (at least currently) planned across the same areas. Second, Heathrow have sought independent verification of the noise levels, using a Dutch firm, given the discrepancy between what some residents are reporting and Heathrow’s data. My strong sense is that noise levels have reduced significantly, but there have also been a lot of ‘Easterly Operations’ lately, which increase noise levels, dictated by weather conditions.
Of course, there is a much bigger issue looming, namely the decision on expansion of airport capacity, following the Davies Report. I have made clear that I am scrutinising the Davies Report carefully, including testing the economic and environmental assumptions – both pros and cons – with business groups, local authorities, and other groups.
As part of that process, I particularly want to test the assumption that a 3rd runway could be developed in a way that reduces noise levels (affecting Elmbridge and more generally). I want to check the facts and evidence very carefully before coming to a firm view, and I will feed my views, our community’s interests and concerns into government, before a decision is taken.