3rd Runway at Heathrow Is Bad News for Richmond

There are very few things that I don’t like about living in this area.  Generally we are spoilt with great facilities – parks, restaurants, schools… and even a reasonably good local Council.

But there’s one negative we probably all agree on.  The noise of planes from Heathrow.

flightThe level of irritation depends on a number of factors significantly depends on where in the Borough you actually live.  It generally seems to be worst in Kew / Richmond / Barnes and better in Hampton / Teddington.

But if the wind changes direction, then the planes reverse their take-off direction and then it seems to be Twickenham that gets a significant increase in noise.

Over the last 40 years Heathrow has become busier and busier, and although modern planes are supposely quieter the reality is that most fleets are old.   When a new Boeing 787 costs $352 million, it’s understandable that BA doesn’t want to replace it’s entire fleet overnight.

Here’s a quick video that demonstrates the sound difference between a 707 and 787. Note that the video is made by Boeing themselves, so who knows how accurate it is, or whether the conditions are similar to take off at Heathrow.

So does that mean we can look forward to a reduction in noise? No it does not. Unbelievably there’s now a proposal on the table from Heathrow to add a third runway to the South West which, by all accounts, would bring many more planes over our heads.

According to an article in The Telegraph

“A new third runway at Heathrow would generate £100bn of benefits for the UK economy and be “quicker and cheaper” than building a new hub to the east of London, the airport has said.”

They continue to report that the cost of this new runway would require £6bn of public subsidy (aka – our taxes) and bring a further 260,000 flights a year to Heathrow. Yes you read that correctly – two hundred and sixty thousand additional flights.

Lord True, leader of the Richmond Council, recently published a response to this proposal via video….

I think his most relevant line is that “100,000 people in Richmond and Hillingdon alone lately said they want no expansion at Heathrow”. Surely in a democracy, that must count for something?

The additional noise isn’t just irritating, but potentially a health risk.  Dr Matthias Egger, of the University of Bern, analysed the data from more than 15,000 heart attacks in Switzerland between 2000 and 2005 and determined that being exposed to daily plane noise over 60db were 30% more likely to have a heart attack.  I can’t tell you how loud the plane noise is here, but Google tells me that a vacuum cleaner creates about 70db of noise.

So other than irritation and health risk, is there anything else to worry about?  Yes there is.

This additional noise from planes will undoubtedly impact house prices.  Whilst this may be good news for those trying to get on to the impossible property ladder, it’s potentially very expensive for home owners especially when many are saying that mortgage rates will rise in the short to medium term.

Yes we have noise pollution now, and the average house prices in our area are still more than £600,000 which makes this the 6th most expensive Borough in London, but I have met many people who love Richmond but would never move here because of the constant sound of aircraft. Imagine the prices if there was none!

Finally, Heathrow claim that it’s actually possible that adding this third runway will reduce the amount of noise in Richmond, but Boris Johnson’s response neatly sums up my thoughts:

“There will be more pigs flying than aircraft if we are to believe the claim that three runways at Heathrow will make less noise than two,”

What do you think? Do you think a 3rd runway is a good idea? What are the noise levels where you live today?