Heathrow and Gatwick airports have been warned by the UK's airports regulator that they must do more to compensate nearby communities if they wish to go through with their runway expansion plans.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) claimed that the two airports risked alienating local communities and losing political support if they did not improve the current situation, and thereby hampering any attempt to get expansion approved.
Less money is currently spent on noise mitigation and compensation for local communities than at other major airports in Europe and the US, the CAA noted.
"Communities cannot be expected to put up with airport expansion without much better engagement and compensation and more of a say in a development that will have a major impact on their local area,” Andrew Haines, the regulator's chief executive said.
It cannot be right that we expect to be able to build more runway capacity without the industry making big improvements to how it minimises its impact on its neighbours.The solution is partly operational – such as using the quietest aircraft available in the most efficient way – but industry improving the way it works with local communities is also crucial.
The Airports Commission has been appointed by the government to choose the best locations for new runways, including a proposal by private company Heathrow Hub to divide one of the airport's existing runways into two.