London Heathrow Airport

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Residents' concerns over Heathrow runway closure

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Heathrow Airport has closed its southern runway until October to carry out repairs – leaving communities around the northern runway fearing greater disruption.

Anti-expansion campaigners say the move will mean “noise misery” for residents as Covid-19 travel restrictions ease and flights begin to increase.

But the airport says it needs to carry out maintenance on the runway, and working during the pandemic will lessen disruption.

In normal times, Heathrow uses both runways every day, with flights landing at one and departing from the other.

The runways rotate at 15:00 to provide noise relief to locals.

During the coronavirus outbreak, amid reduced demand, Heathrow switched to so-called ‘mixed mode’ operation – using a single runway each day, and alternating between the two.

But the airport closed the southern runway at midnight on Sunday (12 July) – good news for residents of nearby Stanwell, East Bedfont and Hatton.

Until 1 October, all flights departing and arriving at Heathrow will use the northern runway, near Longford, Harmondsworth and Harlington.

The southern runway will be reinstated just days before the Supreme Court hears an appeal from the airport on plans for a long-anticipated third runway.

In February, the Court of Appeal ruled plans for an extra runway unlawful because of the environmental impact of expanding the airport.

Now Stop Heathrow Expansion campaigner Geraldine Nicholson says the airport must prioritise residents by ending night flights “altogether”.

“This [closing the southern runway] means noise misery for hundreds of thousands of people living under the northern runway flight paths,” she said.

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport said reduced flight demand during the pandemic had provided the “opportunity” to carry out “necessary repairs” on the southern runway with less disruption.

“Over coming weeks, we will close the southern runway for an initial short period to allow preliminary works to take place,” it said.

Donnell Rhule: Second man charged over stabbing death

Donnell Rhule

A second man has been charged with the murder of a man stabbed to death in south-east London.

Donnell Rhule, 18, was found with fatal stab injuries on the Kingswood Estate in West Dulwich on 8 July.

A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered a stab wound to his chest.

Sean Robinson, 25, of Newlands Park, Sydenham, was charged with murder on Monday.

Eren Inniss, 26, of Turpington Lane, Bromley, south-east London, had previously been charged with the murder.

Heathrow suffers 95% passenger drop in June

Getty Images

Heathrow's passenger numbers were down 95% year-on-year in June, with just 350,000 people travelling through the airport.

Its North America and Africa markets saw the biggest declines, according to Heathrow.

Across all destinations, the number of flights was down 82% as demand for travel remained low due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand for inbound travel was "immediately" hit when the Government's quarantine policy came into force on 8 June.

Total passenger numbers for the first half of the year were 60% down on the same period in 2019.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kick-start the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world.

"We're ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from 'red' countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane.

"This requires a common international standard for testing, which the UK Government could take a global lead in setting up."

Covid-19: England's worst affected area
The Somali community in Brent, in north-west London, has been hit particularly badly by the disease.

Two offices for Mayor of London to save money

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Sadiq Khan will have two offices under plans to move City Hall to Newham – one at his new East London base, and a second in the city centre.

But most GLA staff will work two or three days a week from home on average, under the proposals.

The Mayor wants to move City Hall from its £43 million base beside Tower Bridge to the Crystal in Canning Town to save £55 million over five years.

Mr Khan would have a second office at TfL’s Southwark base, Palestra, to accommodate frequent meetings in central London, including at New Scotland Yard.

The Mayor’s chief of staff David Bellamy revealed the plans at a meeting of the London Assembly yesterday.

The current rent on City Hall is £11.1 million a year, rising to £12.6 million a year from December 2021.

But by moving to the GLA-owned Crystal the Mayor will save £55 million over the next five years,.

Chief finance officer David Gallie said he was “very confident” of the figure, but admitted savings in the next two financial years would be “limited”.