A new approach

Since 2010, we’ve learned from previous plans and have taken a new approach to sustainability and expansion. Our new plans can be delivered within strict UK climate-change targets and provide a combined £3.5 billion for environmental mitigation and local community compensation.

compensation above market value for homes compulsorily purchased
fewer people, at least, within Heathrow's noise footprint
less carbon produced from Heathrow energy use
local jobs created

A third runway will be further west than previous proposals, which means that aircraft approaching over West London will be higher in the sky. By introducing steeper angles of descent (which we trialled in 2015), we can cut noise even further for surrounding communities.

The aircraft using Heathrow will also be quieter. We will phase out the noisiest aircraft altogether and incentivise airlines to switch quickly by charging the noisier ones more to land.

By investing in new technologies and practices the airport compared to today will consume less water and less waste per passenger, with over 80% of waste recycled.

Did you know?

The A380 makes half the noise of the Boeing 747, previously the world's largest aircraft, on take off.

The lowest noise levels since the 1970s

By the time a third runway opens, 90% of Heathrow’s air traffic will be quieter, next-generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Airbus A320NEO.

Heathrow’s noise footprint has already fallen around tenfold since the 1970s, despite the number of flights doubling, and we expect the reductions to continue.

Five steps to reduce aircraft noise


1 Quieter
2 Quieter
3 Noise
4 Relief from
5 Runway
90% next generation aircraft like the A380, B787, A350 and A320neo Only quieter aircraft get new take-off and landing slots Phase out remaining noisiest aircraft
New flight paths to avoid most populated areas Steeper landing approaches Aircraft touch down 700m further along runway
£550 million allocated to noise insulation or compensation 100% insulation costs for high noise areas or significant new noise
Maintain principle of runway alternation Periods without over-flight for every community
Each mile west means aircraft are 300 feet higher over London
At least 200,000 fewer people within Heathrow's noise footprint.

We will also push for the introduction of ‘green slots’, a way of restricting new slots to airlines that operate quieter aircraft.

Compared to other European hub airports, Heathrow already has the strictest limit on night-time operations and the fewest night-time flights and we are not proposing any extra planned night flights.

And for people living under existing flight paths, a three-runway Heathrow will mean fewer disturbed nights and all communities will experience periods of relief from noise. We’re committed to working with local communities to develop our plans further.

Improving air quality

Significantly, our plans will also ensure expansion can be done at Heathrow within air quality limits. Heathrow has already cut emissions by 16% in five years.

Did you know?

Boeing 787 Dreamliners produce 20% fewer emissions than their predecessors.

Planned transport upgrades – including the introduction of Western Rail and Crossrail – are set to contribute to this, with almost 60% of passengers estimated to be using public transport to the airport in 2040.

Our mitigation measures will also include:

  • Incentivising staff and passengers to use public transport and make more efficient use of cars, with methods such as taxi backfilling;
  • Reducing staff car parking spaces;
  • Continuing to increase the use of zero and low emission support vehicles;
  • Investigating a congestion charge to reduce the number of people travelling to the airport by car, should this be needed to manage traffic and emissions.

Our New Approach infographic – The North West proposal compared to 2009

new approach infographic

To find out how we’ve already listened tolocal communities and improved our plans, click here.

Source: Taking Britain Further, Volume 1 (Heathrow, 2014), Heathrow’s North-West Runway Air and Ground Noise Assessment (AMEC, 2014)

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