26 JANUARY 2015
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Last week the London Evening Standard ran a piece by its Political Editor, Joe Murphy. One did not have to be a brain surgeon to spot some lobbying. www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/heathrow-noise-complaints-soar-in-flight-path-test-9992331.html The accompanying editorial was along the same vein To be fair the next day the newspaper featured the Heathrow Hub but with noise being mentioned by only as a side issue. www.standard.co.uk/business/markets/the-third-challenger-taking-on-heathrow-and-gatwick-in-the-dogfight-over-airport-expansion-9998365.html
The real facts are not the same as those articulated by the Evening Standard, which are completely misleading.
Heathrow received 94,114 complaints last year from 8,458 different people. In other words an average of 11 complaints per person. In fact it was a very small number of people who were responsible for a large proportion of these complaints.
The top 10 complainers (excluding the automatic email complainers) made 18,903 complaints in 2014, almost 2,000 complaints per person. The top two complainers made 7,888 complaints between, on average over 10 a day throughout the year.
Some 28,577 complaints were received from 37 complainers. They used computer software to send complaints automatically when aircraft where scheduled to fly over them.
Heathrow noticed that when the clocks went back in October, this tiny collective forgot to change the timing on their software with the airport receiving complaints exactly one hour before the plane took off!
The Evening Standard quotes Zac Goldsmith, the MP for the marginal Richmond Park constituency where there are 77,071 registered voters. The turnout at the 2005 General Election was high at 76.9% but in fact only 29,461 voted for Mr Goldsmith, or 38%, less than 50% of those eligible. Even of those who voted he did not get a majority. He calls the figures “staggering”. 28,577 complaints from 37 complainers is!
By 2030 very few people will still be with us who lived in the Heathrow area when flights began in 1945. In other words everyone who has moved in knew that a major airport was in the vicinity. The noise and environmental impact of today’s (let alone a future) Boeing 787 twin is 10 times less than a 1960’s smoky 707.
As Heathrow points out reducing noise is a key priority but as recent polling shows, more local people back a third runway because of the jobs and careers it would bring, than oppose it.
If the readers of the Evening Standard are to believe the news it publishes it has to be more open and honest, and not just for Heathrow. A balanced newspaper is a healthy newspaper.
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