The Airports Commission has published Aviation noise, the 5th and last of its series of discussion papers, for public comment. The Aviation noise paper explores current scientific understanding and existing policy on aviation and noise, and the issue of annoyance and how this develops over time. It contains chapters on: How does noise affect people? (including health, night noise, amenity, quality of life, productivity and learning effects); Measuring aircraft noise (including noise metrics); Quantifying noise effects (including monetising noise impacts); Mitigation (including operational restrictions, and compensation). Sir Howard Davies, the Chair of the Airports Commission, said understanding the impact of noise from aviation on communities around airports and under flight paths is central to the Airport Commission’s work – both for options to make best use of existing airport/runway capacity in the next 5 years, and any future recommendations to Government for new airport capacity. Deadline for comment is 6th September – it is not a technically difficult document, so possible for the public to respond to.
Aviation Noise discussion paper launched
5.7.2013 (Airports Commission)
The paper explores current scientific understanding and existing policy on aviation and noise and seeks responses to questions to develop the evidence base. It discusses the impacts of aviation noise on health, the issue of annoyance and how this develops over time. It considers different methodologies for measuring noise and approaches to mitigation. And it looks at specific issues, including night noise.
Sir Howard Davies, the Chair of the Airports Commission, said:
Understanding the impact of noise from aviation on communities around airports and under flight paths is central to the Airport Commission’s work.
Responses received on this important issue will inform the Commission’s assessment of options to make best use of existing airport capacity and any future recommendations to Government for new airport capacity.
The paper further demonstrates the Commission’s evidence based approach. Parties are invited to submit evidence to the Commission on the issues raised in the paper by 6 September 2013.
Aviation noise (67 pages)
More details about the Airports Commission on the press release at
The Conclusions, and the questions asked:
The Conclusion section states:
This paper has discussed a number of issues around the noise impacts of aviation, including measurement, assessment, and abatement.
6.2 We have set out in the document a number of particular areas in which we would welcome views and evidence. To guide those preparing submissions on noise, we have summarised below a number of our specific questions of interest. This should not be considered an exhaustive list, however, and we would welcome submissions covering
any other relevant topics or issues.
●● What is the most appropriate methodology to assess and compare different airport noise footprints? For example:
– What metrics or assessment methods would an appropriate ‘scorecard’ be based on?
– To what extent is it appropriate to use multiple metrics, and would there be any issues of
contradiction if this were to occur?
– Are there additional relevant metrics to those discussed in Chapter 3 which the Commission should be aware of?
– What baseline should any noise assessment be based on? Should an assessment be based on absolute noise levels, or on changes relative to the existing noise environment?
– How should we characterise a noise environment currently unaffected by aircraft noise?
●● How could the assessment methods described in Chapter 4 be improved to better reflect noise impacts and effects?
●● Is monetising noise impacts and effects a sensible approach? If so, which monetisation methods described here hold the most credibility, or are most pertinent to
noise and its various effects?
●● Are there any specific thresholds that significantly alter the nature of any noise assessment, e.g. a level or intermittency of noise beyond which the impact or effect significantly changes in nature?
●● To what extent does introducing noise at a previously unaffected area represent more or less of an impact than increasing noise in already affected areas?
●● To what extent is the use of a noise envelope approach appropriate, and which metrics could be used effectively in this regard?
●● To what extent should noise concentration and noise dispersal be used in the UK? Where and how could these techniques be deployed most effectively?
●● What constitutes best practice for noise compensation schemes abroad and how do these compare to current UK practice? What noise assessments could be effectively utilised when constructing compensation arrangements?
6.3 Submitted evidence will inform the Commission’s assessment of options to make best use of existing airport capacity, and in considering proposals for new infrastructure.
Noisy Heathrow ranks last in Airports Commission study
Stansted airport handles almost 50 times as many passengers as Heathrow for every person affected by aircraft noise, a new discusion paper from the Airports Commission has found.
By Alistair Osborne, Business Editor (Telegraph)
5 Jul 2013
The study, which will form part of the Commission’s analysis of where to build new runways in the UK, finds that more people are affected by noise at Heathrow than at any other major European airport.
Moreover, Heathrow handles far few passengers and aircraft movements than any other British airport for every local resident disturbed by aircraft noise.
Tellingly, the study demonstrates that if noise was the only factor taken into consideration, it would be much less disruptive to build a new runway at Stansted, Gatwick or Luton than Heathrow.
The Commission’s 67-page report uses the traditional measure of evaluating noise exposure – a level of 57 decibels over a 16-hour period from 7am to 11pm.
On this measure, it finds that Stansted handles 12,467 passengers for every person affected by noise – 47.8 times more than the 261 passengers handled by Heathrow. For Gatwick the figure is 9,233 passengers, while Luton handles 3,927 and Manchester 638.
Stansted also caters for 108.8 aircraft movements for every person affected by aircraft noise versus just 1.8 at Heathrow. The results are based on 2006 figures.
The Commission said the “new metrics are attempts to describe the noise efficiency of the airports”, adding: “This analysis throws up some interesting discussion points. Of the UK’s larger airports, all of Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester position better under the revised metrics than they do under a simple population survey comparison.
“It could be argued, therefore, that these airports are relatively more noise efficient than other UK airports.”
Simply looking at the population affected, Heathrow unsurprisingly comes out worst given the number of people living close to the busy hub that handled almost 70m passengers last year.
At at level of 57 decibels, the Commission report finds that 258,500 people suffer from noise pollution versus 3,700 at Gatwick, 1,900 at Stansted and 2,400 at Luton. Manchester is Britain’s second noisiest airport, in terms of local residents affected, at 35,200 people.
Lowering the decibel count to 55, the study finds that Heathrow is by far the most noise polluting of Europe’s major airports, with 725,500 people affected versus 238,700 at Frankfurt, 170,000 at Paris Charles de Gaulle and 43,700 at Amersterdam’s Schiphol.
A spokesman for the Commission stressed that the study was “only a discussion paper and is not meant to hint at any decision”. It plans to publish a short-list of possible sites for a new runway by the end of the year with a decision in 2015 – after the next election.
John Strickland, an aviation consultant at JLS Consulting, stressed: “Noise is going to be an important component in any decision but the Commission has got to walk a tightrope between environmental factors and economic ones – where to put capacity to boost economic growth and job creation. Heathrow is also in transition towards quieter aircraft with the A380 and new engines on the [Boeing] 787.”
A spokesman for Heathrow said: “We know noise is an issue for people under the flight path which is why we encourage airlines to fly only their quietest aircraft into Heathrow by charging airlines more for noisier aircraft and have schemes to insulate local properties.”
He added the airport had recently published a new document “A Quieter Heathrow”, which sets out our commitments on noise reduction such as publicly ranking airlines according to their noise performance and increasing fines for those that breach the rules.”
He said this would “continue the progress which has seen the number of people affected by noise at Heathrow fall from around 2m in the mid-70s to around 250,000 today”.