Gatwick hopes noise compensation pledge will help it win battle for a new runway
As competition hots up to persuade the Airports Commission, and ultimately Parliament, on their own cases for building a new runway, Gatwick and Heathrow have both stressed the importance of dealing with the aircraft noise issue, or at least hoping people believe they are dealing with it. Gatwick has committed to pay annual compensation of around £1,000 to local households most affected by aircraft noise should it receive approval for a 2nd runway. Heathrow, meanwhile, has pointed to a [dubious] survey it commissioned from Populus that aircraft noise is only the 7th most important aspect of a London airport for Londoners. The Gatwick scheme would only pay up when a new runway starts to be used, and might affect around 4,100 households inside the 57 db(A) Leq noise contour. The compensation would not be paid to new residents choosing to relocate to the area once the runway is built. Earlier Gatwick announced plans to offer hundreds of local homes up to £3,000 towards double glazing and loft insulation to mitigate aircraft noise. This level of payment if offered at Heathrow would be vastly more expensive, by several orders of magnitude.
Gatwick goes on the noise offensive with compensation pledge to help win battle for a new London runway
Possible layout of a two-runway Gatwick Airport (image: GAL)
27 Mar 2014 (GreenAir Online)
As competition hots up to persuade the UK government-appointed Airports Commission, and ultimately Parliament, on their own cases for building a new runway, London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports have stressed the importance of winning the aircraft noise debate. Believed to be the first airport in the world to make such an offer, Gatwick has committed to pay annual compensation of around £1,000 ($1,600) to local households most affected by aircraft noise should it receive approval for a new second runway. It has also released a supportive noise management report that benchmarks its approach with other leading UK and European airports. Heathrow, meanwhile, has pointed to a survey it commissioned from pollsters Populus that aircraft noise is only the seventh most important aspect of a London airport for Londoners.
Under the Gatwick compensation scheme, which would only come into effect if and when a second runway comes into operation, around 4,100 households situated within the 57 db(A) Leq noise contour would each receive an annual payment equivalent to the Band A Council Tax – the lowest band of property tax charged by the local authority. The compensation would not be paid to new residents choosing to relocate to the area once the runway is built.
“Expansion at Gatwick would, without doubt, deliver many upsides for our local community in terms of jobs and investment. But we must also recognise the negative noise impacts on local people from more flights,” said Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport. “How we best compensate communities affected by major infrastructure projects is an issue facing a growing number of sectors – from aviation to energy.
“Environmental issues are at the centre of the debate about runway capacity in the South-East [of England] and noise reduction, mitigation and compensation are therefore at the heart of our expansion plans. This scheme will be a cornerstone of our planned package of measures for local residents.”
Earlier this year, Gatwick announced plans to offer hundreds of local homes up to £3,000 ($5,000) towards double glazing and loft insulation to mitigate aircraft noise, which will add 40% more homes to those covered already by the old scheme.
Last week, Gatwick published a report it had commissioned from aviation noise consultancy Noise Communications Solutions (NCS) that looked at the airport’s noise initiatives and benchmarked its approach to noise management against leading European airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Frankfurt and Schiphol.
Vicki Hughes, Managing Director of NCS, said the airport had implemented several innovative measures that would help ensure its position as an industry leader in the management of airport noise. Such measures include being the first UK airport to introduce Precision Navigation on all its departure routes which, claims Gatwick, allows aircraft to fly on more precise routes and therefore reduce the number of people impacted by noise.
“We take noise management very seriously and it is great that our approach has been independently validated by renowned noise experts,” commented Wingate. “However, even as we try to remove hundreds of thousands of people out of the flight path in line with government policy, we recognise that there will always be some communities affected by aircraft noise.”
As it steps up its case for expansion, the airport unveiled a new campaign this week, ‘Gatwick Obviously’, to promote the economic, connectivity and regenerative benefits of a second runway. The independent Airports Commission is due to recommend its solution to the London and South East England capacity debate after the next general election in May 2015. Subject to government approval and quick decision-making, Gatwick believes it can start construction of a new runway before the end of the next parliament in 2020, with the first flights taking off in 2025.
Next week, Gatwick is starting a six-week consultation with local residents and businesses over three options it is looking at for the proposed new runway. The airport’s own preferred option is a 1,045m runway south of the existing runway, with both being used for landings and take-offs. The airport will hold a series of 16 public exhibitions during the consultation period.
“The views of the local community are an essential element in shaping Gatwick’s second runway options,” said Wingate. “Therefore it is important we hear from as many people as possible through our consultation so that we can consider local opinions fully in our refined runway proposals.”
However, GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign), which includes local environmental groups and councillors and is fighting the runway proposal, said the consultation was a bogus exercise as it provided no provision for the public to vote against the runway. GACC Chairman Brendon Sewill said the outcome of the consultation was already pre-ordained, particularly over the three options. “Whichever option the public choose, the decision has already been taken,” he said. “And a vote for any option will be counted as a vote in favour of a new runway.”
GACC also criticises the more precise routes now being taken by aircraft departing the airport. “Concentrating flight paths may mean fewer people affected but at the cost of misery for those under the narrow flight path,” it said.
Sewill described the compensation payment offer as a “small bribe” and said the amount would be tiny compared to the loss of house values and the deterioration in the quality of life “of hundreds of thousands of people”.
Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport has published a report it commissioned from independent polling company Populus that shows aircraft noise was less important overall to a majority of Londoners compared to the economic benefits. The poll of just over 1,000 participants found noise ranked as only the seventh most important aspect of an airport, with only 8% ranking it the highest, and fewer than a quarter or respondents rated noise as among their top three issues.
Issues such as the number of destinations an airport flies to directly (35%), its proximity to central London (18%) and the economic benefits it delivers (10%) were all seen as more important considerations.
Commenting on the findings, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, Colin Matthews, said: “Noise is a vital issue for many people. This survey puts the spotlight on other aspects which are vitally important for Londoners when considering an airport.”
The Heathrow poll saying noise is 7th most important aspect of a London airport: [It is hardly surprising if Londoners, living far from the airport and nowhere near a flight path, say noise is not important to them. It is the opinion of those who live in the noise-affected areas that matters on the issue of noise. It is like asking the population of a town their opinion of the provision of local veterinary services, when most of them don’t have a pet].
Noise less important than economic benefits when considering airports say Londoners
24 March, 2014 (Heathrow airport press release)
- New poll shows noise ranks as only the seventh most important aspect of an airport
- Fewer than a quarter of people (23%) rate noise as among their top three issues
- Most important factors about a London airport are the number of destinations it flies to (35%) proximity to central London (18%) and economic benefits (10%)
A new London-wide survey shows that aircraft noise is only the seventh most important aspect of a London airport for voters, according to new research from independent polling company Populus.
8% of those surveyed ranked noise from flights as their most important issue. Issues such as the number of destinations an airport flies to directly (35%), its proximity to central London (18%) and the economic benefits it delivers (10%) were all seen as more important considerations. Fewer than a quarter of those polled said noise from flights was among their top three issues.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s Chief Executive said:
“Noise is a vital issue for many people. This survey puts the spotlight on other aspects which are vitally important for Londoners when considering an airport: For most people, the number of destinations an airport serves, the economic benefits it delivers and its proximity to central London are more important than noise.
A 3rd runway would enable Heathrow to serve more destinations and deliver greater economic benefits while continuing to reduce the number of people exposed to noise.”
Three quarters of those asked (75%) also believe that London needs a world class airport if it is to be a world class city.
Notes to editors
Populus interviewed a representative sample of 1,039 participants in March 2014.
[Needless to say, the results of the survey and the raw data, are not published].
Gatwick hopes that by giving another 1,000 homes double-glazing it will defuse opposition to a 2nd runway
February 3, 2014
Gatwick airport continues to spend a lot of money in attempting to get backing for its 2nd runway and soften up opposition. It has now set up a new scheme – starting on 1st April – to give people overflown more double glazing and house insulation, to attempt to cut some of the noise. That, of course, does not work when the windows are open, or when people are outside – in a garden, or elsewhere. Gatwick says it is expanding its noise insulation scheme, to cover over 1,000 more homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. People will be able to apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing for their windows and doors as well as loft insulation; ie the scheme could cost Gatwick some £3 million in total. They are now taking the 60 Leq contour, rather than the 66 Leq contour, as in the past – hence increasing the catchment area. They are also extending the area covered by 15km to both west and east of the airport. Stewart Wingate said “We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was”… Gatwick is pushing hard to compare the noise problem it causes with the much larger noise problem caused by Heathrow, where flight paths go over many more densely populated areas. They ignore the issue of the low level of background noise around Gatwick, compared to background noise in a city or large town. Click here to view full story…
Zac Goldsmith challenges Heathrow to take a leaf out of Gatwick’s book
Friday 7th February 2014
Zac Goldsmith has challenged Heathrow to match Gatwick’s pledge to reduce the impact of aircraft noise for people living under the flight path. In a recent expansion of its noise insulation scheme, to be rolled out from April, homes around Gatwick can apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing, while loft insulation has increased by up to 40%. If Heathrow was to adopt a similar scheme up to 70,000 homes would be eligible to apply for funds – nearly double the current number. The Conservative MP for Richmond Park said Gatwick’s move was a bold and responsible one by an airport willing to adapt to aircraft noise in line with the latest scientific evidence. He said: “Heathrow continually downplays the effects of aircraft on the community in its bid to expand its airport, and is using wildly outdated formula for its own insulation scheme. Even without expansion, the airport already impacts more people than all other major European airports combined, and it’s time for the management to tackle the issue responsibly and seriously.” There are currently about 40,000 homes around Heathrow eligible for noise insulation. http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/10993513.Goldsmith_challenges_Heathrow_to_take_a_leaf_out_of_Gatwick_s_book/