What is the Cranford Agreement?
The Cranford Agreement was established in the 1950s. Cranford is a village at the eastern end of the northern runway. The agreement prevented aircraft from taking off over the village except in exceptional circumstances and applied when Heathrow was on easterly operations.
The agreement favoured residents of Cranford at the expense of other communities such as Windsor and southern parts of Hounslow. Although the agreement is no longer in place we cannot implement full runway alternation on easterly operations as we do not have the appropriate taxiways in place to support a full service.
In 2010, the then Government confirmed that the Cranford Agreement should be removed and that Heathrow should take the necessary steps to implement easterly alternation as soon as possible to ensure a fairer distribution of noise when operating on easterlies.
Heathrow submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Hillingdon in 2013 to construct an additional taxiway at the western end of the northern runway to enable full runway alternation on easterly operations.
In 2014 the London Borough of Hillingdon refused our planning application, which we appealed. Following a public inquiry in 2015, our planning appeal against the London Borough of Hillingdon’s refusal was eventually allowed on the same date that the Government published the draft Airports National Policy Statement (2nd February 2017) on Heathrow Expansion and a third runway.
What have we been doing since then?
Following the Government’s decision to overturn Hillingdon Council’s refusal of our planning application in 2018, we assessed whether the taxiway works approved fit with the airfield design for an expanded Heathrow. The work has indicated the potential need to reposition the taxiway works further to the east. Moving the location of the taxiway works will change the noise impacts from departing aircraft. Taken together, this will require a new planning application to account for these changes.
After careful consideration, we have taken the decision to pursue this work through the planning process for expansion – the Development Consent Order (DCO).
What are the reasons for pursuing this work through the planning process for expansion?
We will not have sufficient certainty of the airfield design for a third runway until summer 2019 following our second public consultation. We would not, therefore, be able to submit a new planning application until we have that certainty in order to avoid further changes being made.
We therefore believe that there would be little practical difference in the timescales for delivery of easterly alternation, whether we pursued this through a new local planning application or through the DCO for expansion.
What are the timescales for this?
We plan to submit our DCO in 2020 with consent expected in 2021. We would plan to move ahead with this project as quickly as possible following DCO consent and the approval of the necessary airspace changes. Our view is that runway alternation could be introduced in 2022/23.
We understand that for some communities, the delay to the implementation of runway alternation on easterly operations is disappointing. However, having considered our options we feel this is the most appropriate way to take this forward.
We can assure local communities that we remain fully committed to providing runway alternation on easterly operations.
For more information about Heathrow's operations, you can download the Heathrow Operations Handbook 2018.