Below are links to stories about noise in relation to airports and aviation.
ICAO’s environment committee comes up with some standards for new aircraft, years ahead
The meeting of the ICAO "Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) in Montreal has ended. The committee's purpose is to try to reduce and limit the environmental damage done by the aviation industry (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions). It has not been very successful to date. This meeting has agreed on an Aircraft Engine Standard: "A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimise their potential environmental and health impacts." ie. for planes yet to be built, with any impacts decades ahead. At least admitting the problem of PM particles produced by planes. On noise ICAO said: "The meeting also delivered ...improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3% per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production." Again, for new planes, with no real impact for decades. On CORSIA they said CAEP had agreement (not spelled out) on how to assess life-cycle CO2 emissions reductions for biofuels or other lower carbon fuels. ie. not a lot.
Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, etc residents horrified & stunned by likely impact of Heathrow proposed airspace changes
Residents from Chiswick, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith were stunned to hear that their area would experience 25,000 extra flights by 2022 - and a further 260,000 by 2026 if a 3rd Heathrow runway were ever to open. Over 300 residents turned out to a heavily over-subscribed meeting, organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to learn how the plans for airspace change at Heathrow will drastically impact their area. The meeting also heard from local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Stephen Cowan, as well as local campaign groups Chiswick Against the Third Runway, Bedford Park Society and Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway. The airport is currently consulting across west London (and wider) on how future operations at the airport would work with a 3rd runway, with a range of options put forward for consultation. By the end of the meeting there was outrage as people understood the impacts, and the extent of the noise nuisance, that is proposed for the communities of Chiswick, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. Those changes could start within a few years. It is vital that people who will be newly, and very negatively affected, respond to the consultation, stressing their strong opposition.
European aviation report “in numbers” highlights growing noise and carbon problems which will continue
A report about aviation in the EU has been produced as a joint publication by EuroControl, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Called the second European Aviation Environmental Report(EAER), it shows the growing impacts of the industry in recent years, saying: "the contribution of aviation activities to climate change, noise and air quality impacts is increasing, thereby affecting the health and quality of life of European citizens”. Comparing 2005 and 2014 with 2017, on noise, in 2017 more people were exposed to noise than in 2005. Measured across some of Europe’s busiest 47 airports, the number of people inside the 55dB Lden noise contours rose to 2.58 million in 2017. The average noise energy per flight decreased by only 1% between 2014 and 2017 compared to a decrease of 14% between 2005 and 2017. On carbon emissions, though aircraft fuel efficiency improved 8% for commercial flights between 2014 and 2017. But the increase in flights meant that compare to 2014, gross CO2 emissions in 2017 rose by 10% to 163Mt CO2. NOx, which has a net climate warming impact when emitted at altitude, increased by 12% to 839,000 tonnes. So there was a 3% rise in net European aviation CO2 emissions from 2014 to 2017.
Richmond Council reaffirms opposition to more Heathrow flights, as plans show there will be no escape from aircraft noise
Richmond Council voted to reaffirm its stance against Heathrow expansion last night, in a motion criticising the airport's proposal to add an additional 25,000 flights a year, prior to expansion. Last week the Council condemned Heathrow’s latest consultation which considers several issues, including; 25,000 flights added prior to expansion, noise, runway alternation and night-flying relating to its 2 existing runways, as well as the proposed controversial new 3rd runway. At the full Council meeting, members from all political parties were united in agreeing that the proposals were unacceptable and would prove disastrous for Richmond upon Thames. The impact from the additional flights would be felt across the whole borough, as curving flight paths may impact on areas that haven’t been impacted by aircraft noise before. By contrast, currently most aircraft noise from approaching aircraft is concentrated over the north of the borough including Barnes, Kew and Richmond. A key councillor said this 25,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. An extra runway would mean an additional 260,000 flights a year. That is unacceptable for our health, our sleep and our environment. It will ruin the lives of thousands of people.
Driving tired, with under 6 hours of sleep per night, increases vehicle accident risk
In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “drowsy driving" is responsible for a lot of vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries. Evidence from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the USA shows that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less more than doubles your chances of falling asleep at the wheel. It seems likely that most accidents to sleepy drivers happen between midnight and 6 am, although late afternoon also has a spike in incidents. Many UK airports are allowed night flights, eg. Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands etc. This is going to increasingly be a problem for people affected by the noise from Heathrow planes. Already planes taking off, heading away, may be heard routinely till 11pm (often later) on some routes. Each morning planes can be hear arriving from about 4.20am. That does not leave anyone who is sensitive to the noise enough time for healthy sleep. There are many known health risks, of noise disturbance during the times people are sleeping, or trying to. The risk of more vehicle accidents, to those who are woken up an hour or two before they want to wake, is another cost of aircraft noise. The loss of quality of life, and the health costs, need to be part of the calculation of the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway.
London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise
A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing. Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.” If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year. It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “...aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”
Report from London Assembly says due to noise, air traffic should NOT increase at Heathrow or London City airport
The London Assembly's Environment Committee has produced a report on aircraft noise, particularly now that Heathrow not only wants a 3rd runway, but has also recently announced plans for 25,000 extra flights a year, bringing new areas of London under its flight paths. The noise is increasing the negative impact for those who have no choice but to live with a debilitating noise invasion. The report found that noise nuisance levels are unacceptable; it calls for a halt on all air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports. The report details the impact of altitude, flight paths and out-of-hours flights on the noise suffered by many Londoners. Among its recommendations are that the noise thresholds for disturbance should be lowered, to take account of people needing to open their windows. They say: "Air traffic at Heathrow and London City should not increase and Heathrow’s third runway should not go ahead." It also says that planes should be kept higher, and the impacts of noise from both Heathrow and London City should be considered together, not separately. Night flights should be stoped, and there should be better restrictions on flights in the early morning.
Local residents not at all happy about noise plan for Dublin airport
Some residents living under flight paths of Dublin Airport are unhappy that a new plan is not adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on permitted noise levels for aircraft. Fingal county council will become the noise regulator for the airport under proposals drawn up by transport minister Shane Ross. Fingal county council submitted a draft 5-year noise action plan for the airport to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. The public made more than 50 submissions in the consultation period, and most queried why new (October 2018) WHO noise guidelines were not adopted. WHO guidelines say that average noise exposure from aircraft should be limited to 45 decibels during daylight hours and 40 decibels at night. The council’s plan sets no limits for noise and instead focuses on mitigation measures. In the UK the WHO noise guidelines are not followed either - nowhere even approaching them. The number of people exposed to plane noise of 55-60 decibels was over 18,000 in 2016, and that is likely to rise due to more activity at the airport and more housing built near it. Fingal council said it is awaiting national or EU-led policy guidance on noise levels. Construction of the new 2nd runway, for yet more flights, is due to be completed in early 2021 and commissioning will then take place.
Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution
Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent." He said it was a bad case of the government "putting the cart before the horse" in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.
New flight routes (NextGen or PBN) may save airlines time, but they damage health of those suffering the extra noise on the ground
More planes are flying directly over densely populated areas, due to airport computer systems that automatically chart the most "efficient" routes - so airlines can save fuel (= money). A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concludes that the benefits of the reduced flight times are outweighed by the health effects on residents below, who suffer from the noise burden. Looking at the increase in noise pollution around New York City’s LaGuardia Airport since routes were changed when NextGen (concentrated, accurate routes, all planes along approximately the same line) was implemented in 2012, the researchers determined that people living in certain Queens neighbourhoods will lose an average of one year of good health over the course of their lifetimes, due to their heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and other ailments linked to stress. They looked at costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). “Ideally, airports should be built farther away from urban centres,” says lead author Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management. “The next-best option is to use flight patterns that send planes over green space, waterways, and industrial areas.”