Date published: 17th October 2016
  • Areas never flown over before include parts of Kensington, Notting Hill, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush 
  • Gatwick to cap the number most affected by noise and pay their council tax
  • Heathrow expansion comes with up to £25 billion health cost, according to Airports Commission research, compared to £1.5 billion for Gatwick

New animations comparing the number of people overflown with a new runway have been published today – with Heathrow impacting 70 times the population at Gatwick.

The animations show new flightpaths into each airport side-by-side using Googlearth, with Heathrow overflying 278,000 people compared to 3,800 at Gatwick. 

The animations have been published on the day Gatwick has pledged to both cap the number of people most affected by noise, and pay £1000 towards their council tax, should the airport win the green light to build a new runway.

The Airports Commission’s own research says that the noise impact of an expanded Heathrow will generate up to £25 billion in health costs over 60 years, and £1.5 billion for Gatwick.

The flightpath shown is one of several new flightpaths which would cross highly populated areas of London never flown over before including St. Johns Wood, Maida Vale, Kensington, Notting Hill, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, and famous landmarks such as Regents Park and Lords Cricket Ground.

Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, said:

“The difference in noise impact between the two schemes is stark. We have to decide whether to ignore the views of a million Londoners whose health will be affected by constant noise, or expand Gatwick, the environmentally responsible option where we can cap the number most affected by noise.  

“Gatwick’s new runway will deliver the same economic benefit faster and at half the cost, meaning we can finally reap the benefits of new capacity and demonstrate to the world that Britain is open for business.” 


The animations and methodology can be viewed here.

A Cap on the Number of People Most Affected by Noise

Should Gatwick get a second runway, it has pledged to introduce a noise contour cap of 70kmsq covering 15,000 people experiencing 57dB Leq noise and a wider contour cap of 175kmsq covering 40,000 people experiencing 55 dB Lden. 

These limits would materially affect how a two runway Gatwick would operate in the future and would be an important consideration in the annual planning cycle around flight paths and aircraft flight frequency.

Health costs

Airports Commission, Report 5 Noise: Local Assessment, November 2014, gives an account of the commission’s estimates of the health costs of noise impacts from the Heathrow North West Runway (NWR) proposal. The assessment quantifies the costs for 5 health effects: Annoyance, Sleep Disturbance, Acute Myocardial Infarction, Hyper Tension Strokes, Hyper Tension Dementia in sections 4.17.7, 4.18.7 and 4.19.7, on pages 198, 200 and 201.