The Cranford Agreement
Cranford Agreement – updated 14 November 2011
More than 50 years ago the Government made a verbal agreement with the local community about flying over Cranford. The Cranford Agreement says that the airport should avoid the use of the northern runway for take-offs in an easterly direction over Cranford unless absolutely necessary (for example, when the southern runway is closed). Easterly take offs occur for about 30 per cent of the year.
The existence of the Cranford Agreement meant that the airport could not operate a system of runway alternation during periods of easterly operations, as we do when we have westerly operations. The majority of aircraft therefore depart to the east using the southern runway and arrive from the west using the northern runway.
In January 2009, the previous Government announced that the Cranford Agreement would end, a decision that was supported by the Coalition Government and reaffirmed in September 2010.
Ending the agreement would redistribute noise more fairly around the airport by allowing the introduction of runway alternation on easterlies. However, in order to do this we need to make changes to the airport’s taxiway system. This is because the airfield has developed over many years with the Cranford Agreement in place and as a result the taxiway system for the two runways is not symmetrical. The works will provide improved access to the western end of the northern runway for departing aircraft and additional exit points for arriving aircraft on the southern runway.
In order to build the new taxiways and infrastructure required to end the Cranford Agreement, Heathrow is required to submit a planning application to the London Borough of Hillingdon for the works, originally scheduled for submission in Autumn 2011.
Delay to planning application
In November 2011 we made an announcement to say that we are not going to submit a planning application to the London Borough of Hillingdon at this time.
The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, Heathrow believes this could lead to confusion given the current trial of ‘Operational Freedoms’. The trial, which means aircraft take-off over Cranford under certain circumstances, will be taking place at the same time as the London Borough of Hillingdon would be required to consult on Heathrow's planning application for the enabling works. This could make it difficult for members of the public and other key stakeholders to make the distinction between the two.
In addition, the requirement for Heathrow to carefully monitor the impacts of the Operational Freedoms trial provides an opportunity to undertake ground noise monitoring in Longford and departure noise monitoring in Cranford. This information will help us to better understand the impact of aircraft using the northern runway for easterly departures, something that would become standard operating practice once full alternation on easterlies is introduced.
A decision on submitting a planning application will be taken at the end of the Operational Freedom trial in 2012.