Pun-Free Headline about Plane Noise

James asks

I have noticed that a lot more planes are now flying over Greenwich, which wake up my girlfriend and I at 6 in the morning. I know there was a trial that London Heathrow ran a few months ago, but it does seem that the number of flights over Greenwich have risen over time.

Has anyone else noticed this to be case? Do you know of a group that is currently organising protests against this?

The Phantom replies:

Perhaps a little – and I guess as the weather gets warmer and we keep our windows open at night it’s going to get more intrusive. Certainly there are a load of helicopters that hang over us, circling in the holding pattern waiting for permission to enter London-proper. Occasionally when they hover directly overhead I panic and assume an escaped serial killer is hiding in the back yard. And those Chinooks can be damn loud.

Thing is, I find it really hard to get worked up about this one. We live in a city and cities create noise. Yeah, I get woken up occasionally by a plane, and quite a lot by helicopters. But I also get woken up by neighbours’ parties, tipper trucks, dust carts, the ex-mysterious siren, police cars, teenage boy-racers and the warehouse depot near Phantom Towers where the trucks seem to be in permanent reverse mode. They are all irritating, even rage-inducing, but when we live cheek-by-jowl with each other I don’t really see any real way round it.

It’s not like Greenwich used to be a quiet haven of tranquility. It’s always been noisy – whether you’re looking at dinosaurs crashing their way through the primordial jungle, the glassworks, the armour workshops, the factories, the trams, the aggregates yards or the constant foghorns of the ships that have been replaced by the aircraft.

Our government is convinced that the only way ahead for Great Britain PLC is to increase airport capacity – and frankly they are not going to stop until they get their way. As a vaguely green-leaning enviro-Phantom I detest the idea of a fourth runway/new airport – I don’t believe that if we aren’t the giantest air-hub in the universe people will forget we exist and stop trading with us.

So, personally I do actually oppose extra flights/ runways/ airports, but more as a general thing – and not because of the noise. While the Chicago Convention of 1944 remains in place and the world continues to subsidise aviation fuel, air travel will continue to fly asparagus from Peru in September and French beans from Kenya in January, and I find that difficult to deal with, not the noise.

I know I am alone here and that many are getting really angry with the aircraft noise, but it’s a Monday morning, I’m in a right old mood and it’s my blog.

In the interests of balance, however – and to acknowlege the fact that I’m on me tod here, yes, there is a pressure group – HACAN Clear Skies who campaign across the South East against aircraft noise in general and especially around Heathrow.

I guess I’ll get a lot of flack from this one – let the turkey shoot begin…

21 Comments to “Pun-Free Headline about Plane Noise”

  1. Nikki says:

    You’re not alone, Phantom. I also think that to the degree we get plane noise over this side of town it’s not worth the effort of complaining, and is part of the price you pay for living in a city. We benefit from not having to travel 7 hours to a major airport; our part of the bargain is some of this noise.

  2. bats says:

    I’m with you phants, you can’t complain about noise pollution living in a capital city. I thought about moving to the country but I got woken up by the sheep….led Mrs Bats to wonder if sheep ever sleep. The irony was lost on her!

  3. Michael says:

    Sorry Phantom but only half with you on this one. I’m less concerned about plane noise as I’ve not noticed it getting any worse, but the helicopters flying around and around in circles, drives me mad. I swear they follow me around whilst I’m out walking the dogs. One can complain to the CAA about civil helicopters but there is a different body to complain to about the armed services ones (I can remember what they are called). My experience with them is that they are polite and listen to the complaint but generally I get the feeling that can do what they like.

  4. Adam says:

    I agree totally. Zone 2/3 simply isn’t the place to live if you want to guarantee quiet surroundings. And anyway, aren’t the loudest planes we have to hear the large-ish jets which use City Airport? To be honest, unless I lived within a couple of miles of the end of a runway, I don’t think I’d get woken up anyway, which is fortunate obviously, and on balance I prefer being able to watch them than worrying about the noise in our area… But regardless of my personal perception of planes and their noise, as previously noted by others, you can’t have a large city like London, that a lot of people are pretty proud of, without noise of some sort, so deal with it, or don’t, but you’ll stay stressed about it! There’s always the countryside to move to – I think there’s still a fair bit of it around…

  5. David says:

    Two things: FT has an interesting article on planes/Heathrow today arguing, among other things, that if they get a 3rd runway noise will decrease, partly because descents will be steeper. So perhaps the aircraft would be higher and quieter over Greenwich? Second, didn’t I read not very long ago that a heliport in London (Battersea?) has been granted permission to run tourist flights down the Thames to…Greenwich, of course. Previously, you had to drive far out of London to get a tourist flight which was a deterrent to the mass market. So expect more whirlybirds everyone.

  6. Geoff3 says:

    Quite a lot of the new noise (especially at weekends)is coming from helicopter tours. There’s been a big increase in companies offering this service and all of them have Greenwich on their itinerary.

  7. tintinhaddock says:

    Most of the noise comes from turning onto the ILS (Instrument Landing System) which lines the plane up with the runway at Heathrow.

    There was an increase in noise back in the mid 90s when planes were being turned further out – probably an attempt to keep residents of west London quiet while they were pushing through with T5.

    Maybe a similar thing is happening now with the third runway?

    Incidentally the third runway will have a beneficial effect on aircraft noise in Greenwich as it is further to the north whereas we line up with the southern runways. There will also be a reduction in congestion which should mean fewer turns this far east.

  8. Bob says:

    There is definitely more noise from the planes as they all seem to be flying over Greenwich now instead of turning over Canary Wharf, this started a few months ago and my friend living in the high towers near Canary Wharf couldn’t be happier. :D

    But yes the helicopter tours are really starting to be annoying as they hover over the same spot for about 10 minutes, I presume so that the high paying customer can get a good picture of all the cars stuck in traffic going through Greenwich.

  9. I would agree with phantom to be honest – having lived in London for quite a few years now I barely notice the noise from planes any more.

    I was sat in a Greenwich beer garden one afternoon with a friend from out of town and he was stunned at the regularity of them, but I only noticed as he pointed them out!

    I’m not a great fan of the helicopter noise, which is more intrusive when they hover, but I do tend to assume it’s @MPSinthesky catching baddies, so it doesn’t annoy me too much.

    Tourist helicopters on the other hand may be a sticking point, especially if they are low flying over the Thames. I regularly train on the river at Greenwich with Globe Rowing Club and it is difficult enough navigating the wash caused by the clippers, let alone having to be worried about the downdraught of passing choppers!

  10. Tina says:

    The helicopters are very annoying. It’s not just the noise, they cause things to vibrate and rattle – if there’s any damage to house/belongings who can we sue?

  11. JR says:

    Seriously? There are helicopter tours? How have I never seen or heard them? I feel like I’ve been missing out.

  12. rp says:

    I wonder what the chinnoks are doing when they fly over – are they depositing some high-ranking person in central London or something? There must be a good reason for their appearance.

    Oh and one more thing – just be glad you don’t live in Kew – the noise in West London is just astonishing!

  13. Crossfields says:

    Definitely think the helicopters are too noisy and should be objected to in the strongest possible terms. Used to live near Heathrow and the plane noise was awful in the summer with the windows open, but the helicopters are louder than the telly with the windows SHUT.

    As you say, Phantom, you either think there’s an escaped killer on the loose, or an awful traffic jam due to a terrible accident. Interested to hear it maybe just tourists.

    Wish I had one of those guns that was on the heath during the Olympics so’s I can shoot ‘em down. Though of course, the reason not to wish this is the same reason we didn’t want big guns on the heath (aircraft falling into houses). Now that I know it’s likely to be tourists and not some cops from Blade Runner, I will definitely be out on the balcony giving them plenty of hand signals.

  14. Charlie says:

    I live right by the river and have the same problem as Crossfields: helicopters drowning out the sound of the TV even when the windows are closed.

    When that helicopter crashed in Vauxhall a while back I remember reading that London choppers are required to fly up the river in order that, in the unlikely event of one of them falling out of the sky, they don’t land on our heads, so I suppose up to a point it goes with living by the waterway.

    There do seem to be a hell of a lot of them though; I thought it was just because I’d lived away from the area for a few years and needed to get used to them again.

    Curiously, having lived away, I’ve not really noticed the aircraft noise, and I work from home so am here all the time. I might be mistaken but I think the original correspondent was objecting as much to the early hour at which the planes start as aircraft noise in general.

  15. Chris says:

    Why should you get flak Phantom? Perfectly reasonable views to me.
    I disagree with you on runways though, we need another one at LHR, but as others have pointed out, that won’t have a big impact on us per se.
    Chopper flighs do seem up but they are restricted to the river (civvie stuff). I know where the Chinooks go, but I’d have to kill you if I told you.
    As far as I know the amount of flights into LHR during the morning have not increased. I’ve been here for 14 years and am used to them.
    On flying in fruit and veg, I completely agree with you. Bought some spuds from Marks at the Standard yesterday and they were from Israel. What’s wrong with Lincolnshire? Grrr.

  16. John Norman says:

    I can remember when I first moved to Greenwich sitting in my garden, glad I have moved out of central London to ‘quiet’ Greenwich. 1 year later planes were driving me mad. One over my house every 50 seconds.
    - I wondered why the sudden increase.

    The best I found was that planes need to land into the wind, which means depending on wind direction, planes will fly over Greenwich – hitting the brakes (therefore noise) over Woolwich, or will be landing from the West side – obviously quieter for us.

    As for helicopters – hate them. Chinooks – why practice flights over the city? Surely not a way to gain favor for the armed forces. The police helicopter (obviously good to have it around if its doing necessary work), but I’ve often noticed how much backwards and forwards it does on nice days. Cant help thinking ‘who’s getting the joy ride’.
    Helicopter tours – let me see, giving a couple of people a thrill at the expense of annoying many more people… Hmm that’s nice.

  17. Michael says:

    @Chris, try the re-opened Grocers for your spuds…they may well be local but no promises (either way you get to support your local independent shops).

  18. joe says:

    A letter in The Mercury today also mentions helicopter noise, albeit they’re talking about police helicopters over Lewisham. I must say that the helicopters (both civilian and military) circling several times low over Greenwich and the Park is pretty disruptive, and it does happen a lot, suspiciously often on sunny days… I’m sure it’s just someone having a laugh and isn’t necessary at all. Of course there’s no problem with essential services, say the Air Ambuance, but if it’s just rich businessmen showing off then that should stop.

  19. Katrien says:

    Remember when spring did not seem to get started? We had a long period of Eastern wind then, which meant the airplanes for Heathrow did not fly over Greenwich, but had to approach Heathrow from the West (they land against the wind). When the wind turned, we finally got some pleasant spring weather, but the downside of this was that the airplane noise was back after a long period of blissful silence.

  20. nakka says:

    “which wake up I”….. *holds head in hands*

  21. DaiSmile says:

    Try this for an accurate view of overflights. Most avoid Greenwich