A third runway at Heathrow will expose 1.6 million people to “near constant” noise, according to an investigative report by Greenpeace.
Analysis found that there could be up to 47 flights passing over London every hour if expansion goes ahead.
Researchers looked at documents published earlier this year that showed the possible flight paths Heathrow officials are considering.
By overlaying these paths with population data, Greenpeace found more than 11 million people lived in areas set to be exposed to noise above 65 decibels which is about as loud as being in a busy office.
The 11 million figure is likely to be reduced when the final paths are agreed. However, 1.6 million people living in areas closest to the airportare almost certain to experience noise levels at or above 65 decibels.
Currently around 492,000 people experience 65 decibel noise or above from Heathrow, according to research published in 2016.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said; “When an industrial development is opposed by local residents, they are often dismissed as Nimbys. But Heathrow’s backyard is bigger than the average city and needs to be listened to, ideally while it can still be heard over the scream of jet engines.
“This project is not in the interests of people living in the west of London. It is not in the interests of the UK economy. And it most certainly is not in the interests of the global climate.”
“The government has all the public support they could possibly want for radical climate action. Cancelling Heathrow is the easiest measure available. It will cut millions of tonnes of CO2 and improve the health prospects of millions of people all at the stroke of a pen.” Next month a Heathrow consultation begins where the layout of terminal buildings will be discussed. The airport is already the biggest in Europe in terms of the number of passengers passing through.
A third runway, due to open in 2026, would increase takeoffs and landings from 480,000 each year to around 740,000.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “As part of our extensive consultation process, we are proposing options that would reduce the airport’s noise impacts.
“Our plans are designed to ensure that fewer people will be affected by noise than were affected in 2013, thanks to quieter planes, quieter airport design, quieter operations and a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights.”