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Sep 17 2013

John Nickolay Says: Commercial flights using RAF Northolt

cllr_john_nickolayDear Sir

Commercial flights using RAF Northolt

I must confess to being puzzled by the Harrow Council Labour Group as well as the MP for Harrow West expressing concern at the prospect of an increase in commercial traffic using RAF Northolt. Having lived close to the flight path all my life the noise of low flying aircraft probably worries me less than it does other residents. I certainly find aircraft less bothersome than some of the heavy traffic that shakes our home when “rat-running” and speeding over the road humps in Malvern Avenue to travel between Alexandra Avenue and Field End Road. Now that I do describe as environmentally unfriendly!

I well remember watching spitfire squadrons taking off and landing over our house during WW2 and am so proud that RAF Northolt remains in use, being the last operational Battle of Britain airfield. It is so appropriate that we still commemorate the sacrifices made by so many young men, including those brave Polish airmen whose squadrons operated from there. The only time air traffic in and out of Northolt seemed a nuisance was when it was used up to the early 1950s as the commercial airport for European traffic, pending Heathrow becoming totally operational. The TV screen used to go crazy when a Viking or Dakota flew overhead. This reminds me of an item on the BBC News Quiz about twenty years ago when a local Labour Councillor was quoted as having come to the conclusion that the low flying aircraft over Roxbourne Ward must have had something to do with the nearby airfield!

Which brings me back to Labours attitude. If they really are so worried about air traffic over Harrow why oh why did they allow Cllr Phil O’Dell (PFH for the Environment) to cancel Harrow Council’s membership of LAANC (Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council) two years ago? That organisation comprised representatives from local authorities right across the western sector of London (including those outside Greater London) and stretching from Barnet to Richmond. It was well organised, provided up to date and useful information and was at the forefront of the campaign to stop a third runway for Heathrow. I was one of Harrow Council’s representatives for about six years (until Harrow ceased to belong to it) but not once was I accompanied by anyone nominated by the Labour Group to attend the meetings. Time after time I reported back to our Council with information not only regarding London Heathrow but Northolt too but now begin to fear that since 2010 (when Labour took control) I must have been reporting to thin air because no one seemed to care about the prospect of night flying in and out of Northolt during the London Olympics. Neither did their Portfolio Holder understand the consequences for our Borough if and when the BAA ceased to honour the Cranford Agreement that protected Brent, Harrow & Barnet from excessive overflying in and out of Heathrow.

It is a disgrace that these people are now trying to scare residents with the prospect of increased commercial traffic in and out of Northolt when the fact is (as they well must know) that the long standing arrangement limiting those flights to 40 per day (Monday to Friday) remains as it always has been. Whether or not the average daily flights increase is totally dependent on the demand. This facility has been of tremendous help to operations at Heathrow which no longer serves small aircraft, thus enabling more of the heavier commercial traffic to be accommodated.

Yours faithfully – (Cllr) John Nickolay, Conservative  – Pinner South

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1 comment

  1. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    I wouldn’t have been watching the tv. I would have been watching the Dakotas!

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