Hundreds of flights could cross Richmond Park every day as part of proposed changes to Heathrow’s flight paths.
The Heathrow Airspace and Future Operations Consultation, which finished gathering feedback last Monday, indicates that up to 47 planes could fly over London’s largest nature reserve every hour as part of an expanded flight schedule.
The airport is hoping to run an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021 onwards. It currently runs 480,000 flights annually.
Ron Crompton, chairman of the conservation charity Friends of Richmond Park, said: “The proposed flight paths will shatter the peace and tranquility of Richmond Park and we call on all the millions of visitors who treasure the Park to protest against these proposals.”
Mr Crompton pointed out that the park is home to thousands of nocturnal animals including 11 of the UK’s 17 bat species, all of which are protected by law, and Little and Tawney owls. Five and a half million people visit Richmond Park each year.
Many of the proposed flights would cross the park at low altitudes, between 1,000 and 3,000 feet.
Twickenham MP Vince Cable said that Heathrow’s consultation was confusing, observing that tenants (as opposed to owners) had not been notified, whereas his late wife, who died 18 years ago, was asked for her views.
He added: “Those who troubled to go to one of the public events will have been mystified as to what the exercise was all about.”
Mr Cable said the key point was that flights may well increase irrespective of the development of a third runway.
“Residents were promised at the time of the Terminal 5 inquiry that there would be no increase in flights, but that has been long forgotten,” he said.
“Heathrow is gearing up for around 50% more flights, come what may.”
In a statement on their website, Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “Heathrow’s aim is to design a sustainable, fair and more efficient future airport while connecting the UK to global growth.
“We are committed to delivering expansion responsibly, and we encourage everyone to have their say and take part.”
Last year MPs approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which is due to be completed in 2026.