18th April 2008

What half a million planes a year overhead would mean

The reality of the prospect of being overflown by half a million planes a year using a two-runway Stansted was brought home today (18 April) when representatives from four villages at the end of the proposed second runway joined their counterparts in Great Hallingbury.

Residents of Great and Little Easton, Tilty and Duton Hill assembled at the invitation of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) at St Giles Church, Great Hallingbury to see how this community, which currently suffers the worst of the impacts of the airport’s current operations, is already affected by noise.

Great Hallingbury lies immediately to the south of Stansted Airport, with the ancient Hatfield Forest forming its eastern border with Little Hallingbury just below.

All aircraft landing and taking off from Stansted Airport to and from the south west pass over the village, and aircraft noise from the present throughput of 24 million passengers each year adversely affects the quality of life of residents – adults and children – particularly in the summer months when planes can pass overhead at two to three minute intervals during peak periods. The residents of Broxted, at the other end of the single runway, experience the same, although the noise impact in Great Hallingbury is worse overall, since aircraft are noisier on takeoff and wind patterns mean that most take offs are to the south west.

BAA’s planning application for a second runway is indicating that the airport could be handling some 68 million passengers a year by 2030, although the full capacity of the airport would be closer to 85 million. This would mean some 86 aircraft movements each hour, split between the opposite ends of the two runways (i.e. 43 flights over each end per hour).

Under BAA’s plans for an airport handling more passengers and planes than Heathrow today, all four villages (as well as Great Hallingbury) would suffer significantly more noise, with greater frequency of interruption, since they would be directly overflown to the north-east of the new runway in segregated mode for arrivals when the wind direction is south west (28 percent of the time) and departures (72 percent), when the wind direction is north east.

While there is already some overflying of the four villages at the north east end of the proposed second runway, it is only a tiny fraction of what would happen if the planning application for major expansion were to be approved.

On average, the second runway plans mean that each day there would be 678 arrivals AND landings (ie 1356 total per day, compared with c570 total at present), although this is only an average and on many days it would be more according to the time of year.

The concentration of the full output of a two-runway airport would occur as a result of the segregated mode of operation being proposed by BAA, where planes would land on one runway and take off on the other. However, as the airport operator’s advance publicity brochure made clear last year, the introduction of mixed mode, where planes take off and land on both runways would only be a step away if required for operational reasons. While spreading the burden, mixed mode would impact heavily on Broxted, Thaxted, Takeley, Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak too in the longer term.

Speaking at the event, SSE’s Deputy Chairman Norman Mead, resident of Great Hallingbury stressed the importance of fighting the second runway proposals because of the devastating impacts they would have across such a wide area. “BAA’s plans would concentrate half a million flights a year over our communities and would have a shattering effect on our quality of life and everyday activities, education and sleep. It is essential that we all stand up to BAA’s insatiable desire to ruin the lives of thousands in the pursuit of its own self-interest.”

For information on BAA’s planning application for a second Stansted runway and how to lodge objections before the closing date of 26 June see the Second Runway Quick Links page.



Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits