HEATHROW bosses have been warned to expect more complaints as the second phase of a controversial trial gets under way.
From Sunday, July 1, airport chiefs will again be allowed to use both runways simultaneously for departures or arrivals in a bid to reduce delays.
Normally, one runway is used for take-offs and the other for landings, with their roles reversing midway through the day to guarantee residents half a day’s peace.
The change is part of an ‘operational freedoms’ trial introduced by the government, the first phase of which ran for four months until the end of February.
The second phase had been due to last three months but was controversially extended by transport secretary Theresa Villiers to run until the end of March next year.
Only three per cent of flights were part of the trial during phase one, leading to a slight reduction in delays.
The number of complaints about noise doubled during this period to 674, though BAA, which runs the airport, claimed this may have been due to increased publicity.
John Stewart, chairman of anti-expansion campaign group HACAN, said he expected many more complaints this time around.
“There were fewer complaints than expected during the first phase, but we expect the impact to be more noticeable during the summer, when more people will have their windows open,” he told the Chronicle.
“People value their half day of peace throughout the year, particularly during the summer months, and I would urge any residents who are affected to contact BAA and make their voices heard.”
As well as using the ‘wrong’ runway, more planes will be allowed to land before 6am during the second phase of the trial, in exchange for fewer flights in general in the morning. The results will be used to help determine the government’s future aviation policy.
Campaigners fear it will be used to justify an end to runway alternation and fewer restrictions on night flights, though ministers have promised to consult the public before making any such changes.
BAA has pointed out the trial will not mean an increase in the total number of flights and could benefit residents by helping cut late-running departures and arrivals.