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Legal Challenges to Heathrow -Wasting Taxpayer's Money or Not?


Airports, and their proximity to residential areas, has long been a sore point among those who live near them. However, with some exceptions, many of the world's busiest airports were built before expanding towns and cities began to surround them. Protests over airports have been around since the dawn of the jet age, at the end of the 1950s and continued throughout the 1960s and since. The questions however, have to be asked; firstly, if you buy or move into a house under the flight paths to or from a busy airport, do you have the right to complain about something that was there before you? Secondly, how many people live near (or even next to) an airport, doing so because they derive, directly or indirectly, their jobs to that airport?


Above - Heathrow's Terminal 5 has been an unusually empty space during the Covid-19 pandemic (Heathrow Airport Ltd)

Below - New generation aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are much quieter and more environmentally-friendly than earlier jets (Kevan James)



The answer to the second question is most residents. Not all but most - and they do so because of the convenience of being close to their place of work. So where do the complaints come from? Traditionally, airliners use a gradual descent approach to landing, meaning flying level for a time before descending again, flying level again and finally landing. This procedure means many aircraft fly over residential areas that can be some distance from the airport itself and it is from here that many of the complaints arise.


Today however, two things have changed quite noticeably. The first is that jet engines are considerably quieter than they once were. There is no denying that the screaming howl of the first-generation jet airliners did cause a lot of disturbance to those living beneath them. The modern-day engine however, is much less of an intrusion. It is still there however, so the second change is an ongoing and steady alteration from the previous method of a gradual approach to