Heathrow 'super-complainers' bombard airport

Heathrow 'super-complainers' bombard airport

A web developer from south-west London has created his own app to lodge more than 4,000 noise complaints against Heathrow in just two months.

Brad McAllister is one of five “super-complainers” tracked down by the Sunday Times who have each lodged thousands of noise complaints against the airport.

They are at the heart of a fierce battle for public opinion being fought over plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, which were approved by the government last month.

Opponents argue that expanding the airport will exacerbate the noise pollution that already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents.

The airport last week highlighted figures in its quarterly noise complaints report showing that almost half the 25,000 complaints lodged between July and September were made by just 10 people.

McAllister and the others complainants said they did not know if they were among the 10 cited by Heathrow but all had been driven to act by aircraft flying over their homes late at night.

He became so frustrated with the jets over his house in Twickenham that he built an app in 2013 to send complaints with just a couple of taps from his mobile phone, and published it online for others to use.

The father of three would fire off up to 70 complaints a day, racking up more than 4,000 over two months in 2013.

“It has disrupted my sleep. I’ve got three boys, and I’m sure it’s disrupted theirs, too,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll get aircraft coming over every two minutes between 8pm and 11.30pm.”

Andy Lush, an IT manager from Epsom, Surrey, swapped tips with McAllister on his own home-made complaints app.

Lush said he made 195 complaints in 2014 via his app, but stopped after the jet noise gave him an anxiety disorder and drove him to see a therapist.

Another complainant, who asked not to be named, said he had resorted to cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with the stress of aircraft noise over his house in Ealing, after soundproofing his room failed.

The man said he had made more than 1,000 complaints over the past three years although that pales in comparison to the average of 3,600 complaints a year lodged by Murray Barter, a 49-year-old property investor from Ascot.

Mo Williams, a translator from Twickenham, said she made around 2,000 complaints each year, mostly by phoning a Heathrow hotline.

Williams said she had recorded Airbus A380s flying at just 1,700ft over her house as late as 11.30pm. Heathrow’s own figures show flights over her house have increased 29% since 2014.

Heathrow said its expansion would offer more predictable respite and affect fewer people.

It added that it had “consistently reduced the number of people impacted by aircraft noise” with quieter aircraft and steeper landing approaches.

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