MEMBERS of the group that led the successful campaign against expansion at Heathrow Airport have no plans to stop pushing for quieter skies above London.
Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) held its first annual meeting in Richmond on Thursday – nearly two months to the day since the coalition government announced it was scrapping plans for a third runway.
While the mood was one of celebration, the focus of discussions remained on ensuring the airline industry and politicians were reminded about the group’s desire to see its ultimate aims met.
Chairman John Stewart spelled out to the audience at St Anne’s Church, Kew Green, how the battle may have been won but the war was ongoing.
He said: “Without question, this year has certainly been momentous. The new government said it would not press ahead with a third runway or the concept of mixed mode [letting runways be used for both take-off and landings].
"This is a phenomenal change from just a few years ago. In fact, it is almost unbelievable.
“Huge credit must go to groups like No Third Runway Action Group (NoTRAG), Richmond
Heathrow Campaign and the 2M group [a collective of councils, MPs and environmental organisations opposed to expansion]. The reasons for our success are many and varied, but the strength of working together, which led to events like the massive rally at Central Hall, Westminster, on February 25, 2008, played a huge part.
“However, there still remains work to be done. We are not just going to go away with the job half finished.”
He said the two biggest threats were night flights and the possibility of BAA seeking to get the maximum use out of its existing two runways by increasing the number of aircraft using them during busy periods of the day.
He introduced two acronyms – TED and TEAM – and explained the threat they pose to residents’ desire to have a quiet life under the flightpath.
TED (Tactically Enhanced Departures) and TEAM (Tactically Enhanced Arrival Measures) are systems put in place to increase the number of landings and take-offs when events like the recent Icelandic volcano eruption disrupt normal day-to-day operations.
He said the key was to make sure these emergency measures were never allowed to be used whenever BAA felt like it.
He also stressed the existing cap on night flights is due to end in autumn 2012, with the new government likely to seek to renegotiate in October of this year.
Mr Stewart revealed all the various groups would continue to work together under a new campaign banner Quieten the Skies and said more details would be announced at forthcoming HACAN meetings.