AIRLINES could in future be named, shamed and fined if found breaking noise limits at Heathrow airport.
The hub airport's commitment to lower aircraft noise levels will see carriers publicly ranked on noise performance, and heavier fines imposed for those in breach, in a bid to crackdown on sound levels reaching schools.
A report published on Thursday called 'A quieter Heathrow' highlights the five measures in place to reduce aircraft noise for people living under the flight paths.
Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow, said: "Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.
"We will continue to work with airlines, NATS, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise whilst safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides."
Part of Heathrow's plans include to trial new departure routes with NATS, proposing to trial steeper approaches, and piloting a new noise insulation scheme to replace the existing one.
Its five point plan is for:
- Quieter planes: A 'Fly Quiet' programme to launch later this year publicly ranking airlines according to their noise performance at Heathrow, with reduced charges for the quietest aircraft and higher charges for noisiest aircraft.
- Quieter operating procedures: Heathrow operates runway alternation, uses Continuous Descent Approach and ‘Noise Preferential Routes’. New trials will include a departure route trial for a steeper approach as part of the next night noise regime.
- Noise mitigation and land-use planning: Heathrow is currently running a noise insulation pilot ahead of a new 'Quieter Homes' programme it will launch in 2014: the more a property is affected by Heathrow’s operations, the more help will be available.
- Operating restrictions: A cap is already placed on night flights and noise restrictions on aircraft departing late at night and early morning. Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place for arrivals not to touch down before 4.30am, and departures are not scheduled between 11pm and 6am.
- Working with local communities: The airport works with local authorities and resident groups such as HACAN to trial new operational procedures for noise respite, has a dedicated noise website and uses proceeds from noise fines to fund local community projects. It plans to launch a social media service to keep residents updated.
Campaign group HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, welcomed the measures announced by Heathrow to cut noise, but warned a third runway would still be unacceptable.
John Stewart, HACAN chair said: "These measures are welcome and will improve the noise climate for residents. But all the good work could be undone if a third runway was built and the huge increase in flight numbers would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring."
Hounslow Council's deputy leader, Councillor Colin Ellar, said: "This is a welcome development. Heathrow is moving in the right direction but there’s still more to do. However, it looks as though Heathrow is beginning to listen to the council and residents who have said loudly and clearly in our consultation that they want a better not bigger Heathrow."