Heathrow residents welcome runways pledge

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The Independent Online

Heathrow residents today welcomed Government confirmation that there will be no change to the way runways at the west London airport are used.

The residents had been concerned that, with a third runway at Heathrow ruled out, plans that would have created more noise on the existing two runways would be introduced.



Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said earlier this summer that the new Government was opposed to altering the Heathrow system where, at present, the runways are restricted to either take-off or landing and switch each afternoon.



And today Transport minister Theresa Villiers confirmed, in a Commons statement, that the Government would not be approving a switch to "all-day" take off and landing - known as mixed mode operations - at Heathrow.



Mrs Villiers said: "This Government believes that any potential benefits mixed mode might bring to the airport are outweighed by the negative impact such operations would have on local communities."



John Stewart, chairman of Heathrow residents group Hacan, said: "This is good news for residents under the flight paths. The Government has resisted pressure from the aviation industry to bring in more planes on the existing runways in order to compensate for the cancellation of the third runway.



"Mixed mode would have meant the end to the half day's peace and quiet residents enjoy when planes switch runways at 3pm."













The Government decision was welcomed by Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council in south west London, who was speaking on behalf of the 2M Group - a coalition of councils which campaigns on behalf of communities affected by Heathrow operations.

Mr Lister said: "For people in our part of London, the threat of losing runway alternation was a greater fear than the third runway.



"Our worry was that, if planes were allowed to land continuously on one runway, it would effectively double the noise dose for people under the flightpath.



"At least with runway alternation you know will get a break from the noise. The closer you are to the airport, the bigger the problem. The minister's announcement will put people's minds at rest."

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