Heathrow again promoting its “sticking plaster” solution of adobe huts for school noise problem
Last April, keen to persuade politicians that a 3rd Heathrow runway should be allowed, the airport said it was installing noise insulation at the 42 schools and other community buildings (31 in Hounslow) where it promised in 2005 to carry out the work. It has taken 10 years so far. Heathrow said in April 2015 that a total of 10 schools would have adobe structures in their playgrounds by the end of the year. They now say 7 are done with 7 more in the pipeline. The domes are meant to provide a quieter place in the playground, where the aircraft noise of about 87 decibels outside (Hounslow Heath infant school) is cut to 70 decibels. Bearing in mind that average speech is around 60 decibels, and a teacher needs to be able to project their voice at least 10 decibels over background noise, that is still not good. There are concerns that the adobe structures don’t solve the noise problems for schools under Heathrow flight paths. The issue for young children is that they need to play together, and hear each other while playing. That is not easy with a plane nearly over head every minute. The educational disadvantages of schools affected by aircraft noise are now sufficiently well researched; considerable evidence exists to show that it can mean young children suffer impaired performance.
Primary schools given earthquake shelters to protect pupils from Heathrow noise
At least seven primary schools under the flight path will receive funding for new “adobe” shelters this year, and seven already have them. Within the next four years they will be built in the playgrounds of a total of 21 schools.
The domes were originally designed for disaster zones in Asia and Africa and will enable children to play at break times and take part in outdoor education lessons with less disruption from passing aircraft.
They are made from coiled bags of earth with plaster walls and are the shape of an igloo.
The plans were outlined in an updated blueprint published by Heathrow that is designed to minimise the effects of noise, pollution and vehicle traffic around the airport.
The domes cost £85,000 each and accommodate up to 30 pupils. [Surely not if they are running around, and doing the things children do when playing freely outdoor? AW comment] They are able to withstand earthquakes of at least 6.5 on the Richter scale. [But they are not being used for earthquakes – just for unbearable noise ! AW comment]
The first such shelter was built at Hounslow Heath infant school in 2013. Heathrow is also spending millions of pounds on soundproofing and double glazing school buildings. [What they need to do is install proper air conditioning, for when windows cannot be opened. This also requires help to pay for the extra electricity the school has to buy, to operate the air conditioning. Not being done by Heathrow so far? AW comment].
Heathrow said on 4.1.2016:
Heathrow provided funding for five local schools to install ‘adobe domes’ – special outdoor constructions that protect pupils and teachers from noise outdoors – seven more will be funded in 2016. Link