The London Assembly has today passed a motion put forward by London Liberal Democrats calling for the protection of Richmond Park from increased flightpaths.
The motion comes as Heathrow Airport is in the process of seeking its Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) approval to proceed to Stage 3 of its Airspace Modernisation Plans.
An analysis carried out by the Friends of Richmond Park found that under the current proposals (which remain at an early stage) as many as 60,000 arrival flights could pass over the park. As flight options are expected to be adjusted over the course of the airport seeking regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Authority, that number could rise or fall significantly.
The Liberal Democrats have warned that the potential increase in the number of flights over Richmond Park each year could damage the area’s wildlife and impact local residents.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member & Transport Spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon AM said, “This potentially significant increase in flight paths within Heathrow’s proposals would mean that far more Londoners will be impacted by noise pollution from the Airport.
“Large numbers of Londoners live where they do because the current flight paths have been in place since the 1950s. They made life decisions based on those flight paths and the rest of life at ground level has similarly evolved and adapted itself around the current paths.
“We also know that noise pollution from aircraft can contribute to a range of mental and physical health problems, most often linked to disturbances in our sleep cycles.
“We urge Heathrow to go back to the drawing board on these plans.”
Liberal Democrat London Assembly & Environment Spokesperson Hina Bokhari AM said, “The impact of these potential proposals is not just limited to London’s human residents.
“Richmond Park is one of the most nature-dense parts of our City. There is ever increasing evidence that low flying aircraft have a significant impact on wildlife.
“This includes strong evidence that man-made noise is responsible for changing the foraging behaviour of brown long-eared bats, which have been sighted in the park recently. And it is also likely that this kind of disruption affects the singing of bird species such as robins, sparrows, starlings and bullfinches.
“Knowing this, increasing aviation activity over an area generally seen as a safe haven by people across London and the world, could end up transforming it into one associated with disruptive noise, diminished wildlife and general abandonment.
“We have a duty to defend Londoners’ rights to quiet, tranquil places and a duty to London’s non-human population to protect some of their most valuable habitats and I’m glad we had the support of the Assembly today.”