Residents concerned as Heathrow gears up for busiest Christmas in years

Heathrow Airport is preparing for its busiest Christmas in years following the pandemic but some people living nearby are concerned about noise and pollution levels.

A statement from the airport said its increase in passenger numbers this year is higher than at any other airport in Europe and it is expecting a returning demand for leisure and business travel to drive up passenger numbers.

Keith Gould, a 43-year-old theatre technician, has lived in Chiswick, Hounslow, Brentford and Sipson throughout his adult life.

He said the planes have always annoyed him living in west London and noise and pollution was one of the reasons his daughter moved out of the area.

He added: “The noise is impacting me directly and personally. The planes wake me up if I’m sleeping and interfere with whatever phone call I’m on. I can’t stream videos when the planes are overhead.

“When I lived in Sipson the smell of aircraft fuel would permeate the village and sometimes I would get headaches from that.

“It’s been an ongoing problem. Concorde used to be the noisiest, now every plane just seems to make a din.”

Born in Hammersmith, Gould said he has always been aware of the flight path and in 2020, he lived for a year in a climate protest camp in Sipson called ‘Grow Heathrow’, a land squat dedicated to opposing airport expansion (although by 2021 the group were all evicted).

GROW HEATHROW: Keith’s Grow Heathrow home which was demolished after the eviction. Credit: Keith Gould

However, Hounslow resident Sharon Tallent has lived under a flight path for most of her life and said she learned to ignore the planes in the same way she ignored noise from the roads.

Tallent added: “If you choose to live near an airport then you have to expect to live with the noise or move somewhere else.”

She also explained that night time restrictions were in place, although some residents claimed those restrictions aren’t always followed.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We have come so far since Omicron grounded Christmas travel plans last year.

“Heathrow, our airline partners and their handlers are all working together to make sure everyone can be reunited with their loved ones this Christmas.”

The airport predicts that things will go back to pre-pandemic levels by the peak summer holiday period in 2023 and companies across Heathrow have already recruited over 16,000 colleagues over the last year to keep capacity and demand in balance.

They have also announced plans for investments of over £4bn in the next few years to improve the journey through Heathrow, including new security lanes and a new baggage system for Terminal 2.

Despite efforts to make the Christmas peak run smoothly, the airport acknowledges potential strike actions could still impact operations at this time.

They added: “We are aware of potential strike action at a number of organisations, including a national Border Force strike.

“We are supporting organisations on contingency plans to minimise any impact, and encourage all parties to put the interests of passengers first.”

Related Articles