Heathrow Airport noise complaint every five minutes

By Daniel Wainwright
BBC News

image source, Getty Images
image captionNoise complaints are made to Heathrow Airport on average every five minutes

Heathrow Airport receives a noise complaint on average every five minutes, according to official data.

Figures for January to October 2016 show 84,000 complaints, one for every five take-offs and landings.

But the airport said half the complaints received over the summer period were from just 10 people.

Campaigners believe the planned third runway will result in more complaints and called for the airport to vary flight paths.

In a report, the airport said a total of 2,218 people made 25,200 complaints between July and September 2016.

Of those, 12,312 - just under half the total - were said to have come from the same 10 people.

Slough accounted for the most complaints during the same time period, with 3,944. Heathrow Airport said they came from just 22 people.

Further analysis by BBC News found that since the start of 2016, an average of 72 people have complained every day.

The total number complaints received is an average of 283 per day, just under 12 every hour.

Get the data here

John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (Hacan) said: "I would expect complaints to rise, certainly initially, if a third runway was built.

"The biggest thing that Heathrow could do to reduce complaints would be to give more communities a break from the noise during the day by varying the flight paths.

"Most of the complaints are coming from areas that get noise all day long."

Given up complaining

Justine Bayley, part of the Stop Heathrow Expansion Campaign, lives in Harmondsworth. Half the village will disappear due to the third runway.

The archaeologist believes many people have given up complaining about noise.

"If you get woken up at 1am you don't immediately complain and by the morning the moment has passed," she said.

"If I asked people near me, many would say they had tried complaining but they have given up because it doesn't make a difference.

"With half the village demolished and the rest up against the Heathrow fence, with the third runway I doubt I'll be able to open my front door without ear defenders."

Heathrow Airport publishes daily data on aircraft movements and complaints.

media captionHeathrow's tricky landing - in 60 secs

Interactive See how proposed flightpaths with the third runway differ from current flightpaths

Proposed Flight Paths

Current Flight Paths

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: "Heathrow's plans for expansion will ensure fewer people are impacted by aircraft noise, offer more predictable respite than we can now and a world-class noise insulation scheme.

"Heathrow has consistently reduced the number of people impacted by aircraft noise, by incentivising airlines to bring their cleanest, quietest aircraft to the airport and driving forward changes in how they operate through measures like steeper approaches.

"Independent experts agree. Following the most in depth study of aviation expansion in a generation, the Government's Airports Commission confirmed a bigger Heathrow can be a better neighbour."

More on this story