We would like to thank SEBRA (South East Bayswater Residents' Association) for permission to reproduce this section on the Heathrow expansion plans and consultation.

Do you want to be woken up early in the morning by the loud noise of planes overhead on their way to a much expanded Heathrow?

Do you worry about even more pollution of our air?

  • The proposals to expand Heathrow (detailed below) seem inconsistent with the move towards more environmentally friendly transport methods, such as cycling.

    On the one hand we are looking at radical alterations to land-based transport in an attempt to reduce pollution, while on the other we face air traffic proposals which are likely to increase pollution levels over the same area.

    The disturbance (over 65db) to the Notting Hill area from flights will start at 5.30am from as many as 25 aircraft per hour, with “respite” periods scheduled through the day; aside from particle pollution, the noise pollution will have a considerable impact on residents’ quality of life.

    Please have your say, and help us seek to get this scheme reduced or stopped. Heathrow are seeking your views and their consultation is open until 13th September.

    You can find out more either:

  • By going to SEBRA's guidance on how to navigate Heathrow’s rather complicated website. Please follow this link to do so, or

  • By going to Heathrow's presentation for Central London, which will be at 20 Cavendish Square, W1G 0RN, on Friday 19 July, 2-8pm.

The sheer scale and the huge cost of Heathrow’s plans has been much criticised in the press, and politicians have promised often that there would be no third runway.

For example, on 21 June Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian:

‘.. It is a plan so monstrous, so expensive, so disruptive and so archaic as to beggar belief. No city in the developed world would think of increasing flights over its built up area by 700 planes a day. None would think of jamming its busiest stretch of urban motorway for a decade, consuming 1,000 acres of greenbelt land and building the world’s largest car park (for 50,000 vehicles), all in an area already intolerable with congestion, aircraft noise levels and illegal air pollution — and all at a time of mounting concern over climate change. ..’

There will also be a public meeting on 3rd September which we expect to be addressed by the No3rdrunway coalition. It will be at St Stephen's Church, Westbourne Park Road, W2 5QT.

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 Expanded Airport Map
The map shown above is from Heathrow Airport's consultation leaflet. A larger version, which includes the map key can be viewed by following this link

SEBRA's overview of Heathrow’s scheme.


1.1. This second consultation of this year is about a huge expansion of Heathrow Airport. It is open now, and until 13 September. You can respond online (aec.heathrowconsultation.com) - see the guidance here - or by email to feedback@heathrowconsultation.com

1.2. On Friday 19 July, Heathrow will present their scheme at 20 Cavendish Square, W1G 0RN, from 2-8pm. There you can find out more and also pick up a ‘Feedback Form’.

1.3. The scheme - see the map above - has been criticised in the press as being massive overdevelopment. It is proposed that;

  • The number of flights arriving or leaving should increase by 58%, from 476,000 last year to 754,000 by 2050.

  • Passenger numbers would increase even more sharply, by 77%, from some 80 million last year to 142 million in 2050.

  • Cargo capacity is doubled from 1.7 to 3.4 million tonnes annually. Flights can be passenger plus cargo, or cargo only. Thus it is implied that, within the overall increase of 58%, cargo only flights will increase proportionately more.

1.4. The proposed third runway, situated to the north of the existing two runways, would be of full length and would be built out over the M25, which would have to be diverted in new tunnels situated to the the west of its current alignment. This would add some £12-18 billion to the cost, taking it to some £30 billion overall - nearly twice the cost of Crossrail. This additional cost is to be largely funded by taxpayers, it seems. It has been predicted that airport landing charges would need to increase, in consequence, by some 50%.

1.5. Heathrow proposes two huge new car parks, said to to be the biggest in Europe. One, to the north, would have a capacity of 24,000 vehicles and the other to the south 22,000 vehicles. New rail connections, to the west and south, are planned but are not yet assured or costed, and will be funded by taxpayers.

2. ‘Early growth’

2.1. The new runway would come into operation by 2026, but Heathrow also plans more intensive use of the existing two runways from 2022, an increase of some 25,000 flights, almost entirely very early in the morning.

2.2. This might seem a comparatively small number in proportion to 476,000 but for arrivals the increase would be concentrated in the early morning, from around 5:00am overhead, for an hour or so. At that time there are few departures, so that changing the runway used for departures to ‘mixed mode’ (both arrivals and departures), would allow a concentration of the increase in arriving flights early in the morning, probably on alternate mornings when the northern runway is being used in ‘mixed mode’.

2.3. In the usual situation, when the wind comes from the west, so that the final approach to landing is in the westerly direction, the earlier part of the approach to that runway would probably use new flight paths with a steeper final descent, see 3.2 below. In that way two parallel approach paths would be avoided over most of the approach, but not for the very final approach. For those living under the very final approach, ‘early growth’ would require loss of the respite that they now enjoy on alternate mornings. For more detail on ‘respite’, see section B3 in the link, which is about ‘early growth’ of Heathrow, and section B4 on ‘runway alternation’ (as it would be after 2026, with a three runway airport).

3. New flight paths (both with ‘early growth’ in 2022-26 and with a third runway, after 2026)

3.1. The present consultation says nothing specific about flight paths, which was the subject of the previous consultation. In 2022 there will be a further consultation about flight paths to the expanded airport, if the expansion is permitted.

3.2. However, both the previous consultation and this one have made it clear that new technology already makes it possible for the approach to landing to be steeper than before, and that more precise methods of locating aircraft enables new shorter routes to be taken from holding areas towards the start of the final approach for landing. Flights will therefore be taking new paths, affecting wide areas, as the previous consultation made clear.

3.3. Let’s look at the ‘early growth’ scenario, for example. On alternate days the northern of the existing two runways will be the one used in ‘mixed mode’, and if - as is usual - the wind comes from the west, arriving flights will land from the east. Then, the route for incoming transatlantic flights from their holding area to the north west of London could be shortened by flying on a curved alignment over Brent, Bayswater and Kensington on the way to joining the final approach. It remains to be seen, in 2022, whether concentrated or dispersed flight paths will be chosen. Once runway three is in operation, transit over the same areas will become day-long.

4. Further steps

4.1. The consultation documents include a formal notification of Heathrow’s intention to seek in 2020 planning consent for physically expanding the airport. There will then almost certainly be a public enquiry on the application. Heathrow aim to have consent by the end of 2021, but this seems optimistic, as the public enquiry on Terminal Five lasted five years. SEBRA in its response to the present consultation will notify its intention to put in an objection to this planning application.

4.2. The grounds of SEBRA’s objection will be similar to those that you may wish to deploy yourself, see our guidance in the link: massive and widespread increases in aircraft noise and in emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases, both in the air and on the ground. Add to this the very likely incompatibility of Heathrow’s big expansion with the urgent action needed to deal with the climate crisis and thereby achieve by 2050 net zero carbon emissions, for the UK as a whole.

4.3. On noise, you may wish to make specific objection to the very early start of flights in the morning and to the proposal that - once a third runway is in operation - respite from very early morning noise would only be on one day in four - see section B in the link.

4.4. The link - SEBRA guidance to navigating the on-line consultation can be found here. See its section B on how to navigate Heathrow’s site, and section C for our suggestions for your answers.