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?
We have been assessing whether the taxiway works approved at appeal 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 for an expanded Heathrow.
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) application.
This decision has been taken because we 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 happens next?
Following two rounds of consultation, we plan to submit our DCO in 2020 with a decision 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 current view is that runway alternation on easterlies could then be introduced in 2022/23.
For more information about Heathrow's operations, you can download the Heathrow Operations Handbook 2018.