Below are links to stories about noise in relation to airports and aviation.
New calls by CAGNE on Grant Shapps and MPs to curb Gatwick expansion plans
Campaign group, CAGNE, against the expansion of Gatwick, are appealing to newly-elected MPs to help curb the airport’s growth plans. They are also urging local residents, along with the MPs, to protest to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps. CAGNE says Gatwick’s expansion proposals will lead to an extra 55,000 flights per year by 2033 - and that there is insufficient infrastructure to cope with the growth. It will also lead to large increases in noise levels and CO2 emissions, which are environmentally unsustainable. Air quality will also deteriorate. CAGNE is calling on transport secretary Grant Shapps to subject Gatwick's expansion proposals to more scrutiny by declaring the proposals a ‘National Significant Infrastructure Project’ (NSIP), which requires it to be subject to a different process than a smaller expansion, of under 10 million more annual passengers. A project that qualifies as an NSIP has to go through the Development Consent Order process. CAGNE said in their letter to Shapps that Gatwick's growth plans "are neither compatible with the current climate emergency, nor with achieving the Government‘s net zero carbon target."
Boris Johnson unveils plan to increase number of flights, despite global climate emergency: ‘A total disregard for the planet’
As part of the Queen's Speech on 20th December, there is to be an "Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill". This will have the effect of squeezing more flights into same airspace and grow the airline sector. The details in the Speech documents say the aim of the Bill is to: "Maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in aviation, ensuring that regulations keep pace with new technology to support sustainable growth in a sector which directly provides over 230,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy every year." Its alleged benefits would be: "Making journeys quicker, quieter and cleaner through the modernisation of our airspace". [Note greenwashing language]. The Bill will give government powers to "direct an airport or other relevant body to prepare and submit a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to modernise their airspace..." And "Modernising the licensing framework for air traffic control". The government says the aim is to remove obstacles to growth in the number of flights airspace can accommodate. The CAA last year published an Airspace Modernisation Strategy, setting out general principles and methods.
Effective anti Bristol Airport Expansion Jamboree held in Weston-super-Mare, by Extinction Rebellion and other groups
On 7th December, a protest Jamboree was organised by a number of groups oppose to the expansion of Bristol Airport - including several local Extinction Rebellion groups. The protest took place in the busiest part of the High Street shopping area of Weston-super-Mare, where thousands of local people pass through. There were a number of gazebos decorated with banners, flags and other XR branding. There were three large boards containing factual information about the airport’s plans, a table of flyers, pre-addressed postcards for objections and posters galore. There was also a questionnaire. Ninety-six postcards of objection were completed on the spot with many more taken away to be completed later. Approximately 3,000 leaflets giving ‘Reasons to say No to airport expansion’ were given out. The town had been chosen because it is the largest town council in North Somerset and has 11 councillors on the planning committee, considering whether the airport should expand or not. It is therefore a place of considerable influence in this vitally important decision. Talking to people, it emerged that too few were aware of the problems, and the likely local impacts of the planned airport expansion, showing how local engagement on the issue had been inadequate.
Environmentalists protest outside Luton Airport expansion consultation event in Stevenage
Environmental campaigners gathered to protest against the proposed expansion of Luton Airport outside a consultation event. Protesters from Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, LADACAN and SLAE joined forces for the peaceful demonstration. The airport plans to build a new terminal and increase passenger numbers from the current 18 million per year to 32 million a year. Former Herts county councillor Amanda King is now an active member of Extinction Rebellion which she set up locally in Stevenage; the airport expansion demo was its first action. She said: "Flying has the highest carbon footprint of all forms of transport. Taking one return flight generates more carbon than people in some countries produce in an entire year. ...[aviation] is expected to account for 25% of CO2 emission by 2050." As well as CO2, the protesters emphasised the airport expansion will also increase noise, traffic congestion and air pollution. The airport knows there will be hugely increased carbon impact from the expansion, as well as the other negative consequences, but falls back on the old chestnut of there being more jobs and more local prosperity. In reality, most passengers using Luton are British people taking leisure trips abroad (spending their money there).
Hertfordshire County Council objects to Luton Airport expansion, due to negative environmental impacts
Proposals to expand Luton Airport have been described as "madness" by a Hertfordshire county councillor. The council unanimously voted to oppose further expansion of Luton airport at a meeting on 26th November, as they realised the expansion plans to increase to 32 million passengers a year by 2039 (from almost 17m now) would harm the environment. The airport's proposals - to be decided by Luton Borough Council - include a second terminal north of the runway, an extensive new airfield infrastructure and a third station. There is a huge conflict of interest, as Luton Council both owns the airport, and decides on its planning applications. At a time of growing realisation of the climate crises the planet faces, and with no realistic ways to reduce the carbon emissions from aviation, the industry should NOT be given permission to expand. The growth plans of airports across the country add up to a massive expansion in the number of flights and passengers, way above what could be compatible even with aiming for net-zero carbon by 2050 (and that is at least 20 years too late). The motion also called for Luton's plans to be deferred until the new government has set out the Aviation Strategy, for the UK aviation sector, taking into account the advice of the CCC.
Local campaigners, AXO, encourage local residents to respond to the Southampton airport expansion consultation
There is a planning application consultation by Southampton Airport, that closes on 23rd December. The airport has published plans for a 164-metre runway extension. The planning application, lodged with Eastleigh Borough Council, is the first phase of its growth set out in its "masterplan" which it charmingly calls (oxymoron) "A Vision For Sustainable Growth." The application is likely to be considered by the council on 21st January 2020. Local opposition group, AXO (Airport Expansion Opposition) Southampton is urging people to read the application, and submit their comments. There are serious concerns about road congestion, and increases in air pollution - as well as the inevitable increase in noise. The longer runway would mean larger aircraft could use it. AXO warns that the application should not be decided before the CAA's Airspace Change consultation process is completed, as this may change significantly the impact on residents under or near the flight path. It also should not be decided until the government has finalised its Aviation Strategy, for all UK aviation, expected in early-mid 2020, when it has taken into account the new legal situation for aviation carbon emissions, with a net-zero target for 2050.
Heathrow growth – election briefing (one page) from the No 3rd Runway Coalition – check your candidates’ views
The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a simple one-page briefing on Heathrow and its proposed new runway, to help people quiz their parliamentary candidates, and check they know the real facts. The Coalition says: "Supporting Heathrow Expansion comes at the expense of the regions and to the UK as a whole. Here’ s why it should be opposed." The briefing deals with the Economic costs, the carbon implications, noise, air pollution, transport impacts, and connectivity. Lots of key points, including on economics: " The Government’ s own economic analysis found that once all negative impacts are monetised, a third runway could bring net NEGATIVE economic benefits to the UK overall in the long term. There is no explicit job model and no clear job creation analysis included in the Airports National Policy Statement. Many of the few jobs created will be low-skilled and short term. The costs of the project are now expected to rise to over £31bn, increasing Heathrow’s debt from £11bn (2014) to over £40bn in 2028. This could still increase further." On noise: "Data from the CAA reveals that 2.2 MILLION people would experience an increase in noise from an expanded Heathrow."
300th Frankfurt Monday demo against aircraft noise – 1,000 people -. “Only when no one comes, is it over!”
Back in October 2011 the Frankfurt airport 3rd runway opened. It was greeted with huge anger, because residents had not been informed how much new noise there would be, and that there would be noise where there previously was none. Huge protests started on Monday evenings (airports are public property in Germany, so protests can happen). These carried on with often as many as 1,000 people each week. People were devastated by the noise battering they were being subjected to. Now, 8 years later, the protesters have had their 300th protest, again with perhaps almost 1,000 people present. They say they will not give up, until there are no more protesters. "Only when no one comes, is it over." Their complaints have not been addressed, about noise or particulate air pollution, or the health issues people are suffering - including depression. The airport is continuing to expand, with a new terminal. Its opponents now hope the increasing awareness of carbon emissions from aviation, with campaigns like Fridays for Future, will help put pressure on Frankfurt airport. There is a new campaign against domestic flights.
The Labour, LibDem, Conservative, Green party and SNP manifestos – bits on aviation
The election manifestos for the LibDems, Labour, and the Green Party are not available. They all have short sections on aviation. Labour comments (disappointing) include: "Any expansion of airports must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution, climate change obligations and countrywide benefits. We will examine fiscal and regulatory options to ensure a response to the climate crisis in a way that is fair to consumers and protects the economy." LibDem comments include: "Reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international fights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for those who take one or two international return fights per year, placing a moratorium on the development of new runways (net) in the UK, opposing any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted ". The Greens include: "We will lobby against the international rules that prevent action being taken to tax international aviation fuel. ... Ban advertising for flights, and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy (FFL)to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights. This FFL only applies to people who take more than one (return) flight a year, discouraging excessive flying... Stop the building of new runways." Conservatives say nothing of any consequence, avoiding mention of carbon.
Scientists say rules on noise pollution, including aircraft noise, should be tightened to protect wildlife
Road traffic, aircraft, ships, factories and oil drilling are all human activities that produce noise, much at frequencies at which many animals communicate. Studies have found noise pollution can affect wildlife, from disrupting their communication to affecting where they live and the efficiency with which they forage for food. For example in bats, they try to locate their prey via acoustic cues, so with noise in the background they can’t really so well and have to fly longer and invest more time and energy to find food. Studies have looked at various aspects of animal behaviour and biology, including changes in hormone levels. Bird communication is affected by noise, making life harder. Some prey species benefit, if the noise makes it harder for predators, but all impacts can affect ecosystems. A lot more research is needed into the impact of noise on biodiversity, with most studies so far being done on birds. Some birds near airports have been studied, but not specifically those under noisy flight paths. Some birds may become habituated. Some birds may move away if they can. There is little research on these aspects.