Noise News

Below are links to stories about noise in relation to airports and aviation.

 

Areas like Chiswick: Residents affected ‘will find out too late’ about new Heathrow noise only after final consent

The current Heathrow consultation on its plans for a 3rd runway does not give details of flight paths. Conveniently (for Heathrow) the information on those will only come after about 2023, well after (Heathrow hopes) it will have got planning consent for its scheme.  Wickedly, that means people do not know now, and will not for several years, whether they are due to have a narrow, concentrated route above them, or nearby. That will only become obvious too late for them to do anything about it.  It could mean a noisy plane, below - say - 4,000 feet - over head many times per minute. Hour after hour - most of the day. Day after day - most days. Local group Chiswick Against The Third Runway (CHATR) has said it is "unacceptable" that the details of the proposed new flight paths are not part of the Heathrow consultation.  "The scale of environmental degradation and destruction is monumental." The absence of flight path information - which for many people is THE most important aspect of the expansion - is "clearly unacceptable. We believe this is fundamentally dishonest, since the hundreds of thousands of people affected will not discover until after planning consent".

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The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action

In October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its long awaited new guidelines for environmental noise.  These make source-specific recommendations for noise from aviation, as well as road, rail, wind turbines, and leisure. They include tough new lower thresholds set for aviation noise, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the harmful effects of noise on health  - that fall disproportionately on the vulnerable, particularly children, and the infirm and older people. Writing in a blog in the British Medical Journal, the writers say health impact assessments of aircraft noise, if they were carried out, lacked transparency as they were often undertaken by airport operators. Seemingly there has been a reluctance to protect the health of the population in the face of commercial pressures pursuing economic benefits. Unless urgent action is taken using the new WHO recommendations for lower thresholds, the health of communities residing near airports will continue to show marked deterioration.  We need policies and actions to ensure there is an equitable balance between economic benefit and the health and wellbeing of communities. The cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable.

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AvGen’s concerns mount over Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet” statistics – very opaque how they are arrived at

Heathrow produced figures, intended to show how well airlines that use the airport are performing in terms of noise. The criteria include noise quota/seat, plane Chapter number (noise certification), the NOx emissions/seat, the CAEP standard (engine emissions certification), the Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) violations, the airline's Track keeping (TK) violations, and early or late movements between 23:30 and 04:30.  The group, AvGen, assesses the numbers put out by Heathrow, and finds - every time - that the numbers do not make much sense, and do not even match the stated methodology by Heathrow. Airlines get given numbers of points (it is far from clear how these are measured), and rankings for how "quiet" they are.  It appears airlines are bumped up and down the rankings in a fairly random way. Perhaps to make some airlines look good, and gloss over the amount of noise they make? For the Quarter 1 (Q1) results this year, AvGen calculates the figures, using the stated Heathrow methodology, British Airways short haul comes out 4th best (Heathrow put them first); British Airways long haul comes out 14th (Heathrow puts them 6th). Aer Lingus comes out at 10th best (Heathrow has them 4th). And so on. Contact AvGen for the full data.

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Heathrow’s 3rd runway is equivalent to bolting an extra airport onto one that is already the world’s most disruptive

The Heathrow consultation sets out Heathrow’s assessment of the impacts of expansion on local communities and the environment, and their plans (such as they are ...) to mitigate these impacts. Speaking for the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Beckford commented that: “Our communities will be destroyed by these expansion proposals, with 783 homes demolished and another 3,000 homes rendered unliveable owing to the construction and pollution. 2 million more people will be exposed to aircraft noise at levels that have a detrimental impact on health and millions will be exposed to significant increases in air pollution from vehicles accessing the airport as well as the 700 additional planes in the skies every single day. Every community across London and the Home Counties will experience the impacts of these proposals..." Paul McGuinness, Chair of the Coalition said: "Statistically, Heathrow is already the world’s most disruptive airport. It lies at the heart of the UK’s most densely populated region and has a hopeless environmental record, regularly breaching air quality targets. And all of that comes with just two runways. Heathrow’s plan equates to bolting another major airport on top of its current, disruptive operation."

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Heathrow consultation starts – trying to cover up the devastating impacts the 3rd runway would have, in so many ways…

The main Heathrow consultation - before the DCO consultation - on its proposed 3rd runway has opened. It closes on 13th September. It is a massive consultation, with dozens and dozens of long documents - making it impossible, in reality, for a layperson to read.  Below are links to the key documents. Heathrow says it is proposing "tough new measures to reduce emissions". It proposes a slight increase in the amount of time when scheduled flights are not allowed at night - just 6.5 hours (that does NOT include planes that take off late....) so little change there. This is a statutory consultation (the earlier ones were not) and Heathrow says it "will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year."  There will be 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week consultation period. Heathrow says its "expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer." It will be interesting to see how they pay for the work to bridge the M25, paying for it all themselves. There is no information on flight paths, as those will not be decided upon until perhaps 2023. They use only indicative flight paths. There expected to be more flights, even before the runway is built, by 2022.

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Heathrow’s planes over Richmond Park would ‘damage mental health’

Millions of people who use Richmond Park, for peace, quiet and tranquillity, face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway. The noise from the planes, so people cannot escape from the stresses of life and enjoy nature, is likely to have negative impacts on the mental well being of thousands of people. Richmond Park is surrounded by housing and urban development, but it is precious island and refuge, so close to London. With the expansion, there will be more planes, and lower, over the Park. Under the Heathrow expansion plans, hundreds of planes would produce noise levels of up to 80dB – many times over the WHO guidelines for good health – flying at 1,500 feet over the park. It seems that high, and rising, numbers of people living in the London area (and other cities) suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. To help them, the government might want to ensure there are quiet, tranquil areas that people can spent time in, to relax and de-stress. But instead, the government is happy to allow Heathrow to hugely increase plane noise over this treasured, ancient park.  Is nothing worth saving, from the ravages of economic growth etc?

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ICCAN consultation on its Corporate Strategy – public welcome to respond – deadline 16th June

The Airports Commission suggested, back in 2015, that there should be an independent body looking into aircraft noise issues - largely to help reduce public opposition to the massive increase in noise that would be generated by a Heathrow 3rd runway. The ICCAN (Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up earlier this year, with a chairman (Rob Light) and three commissioners (Colin Noble, Howard Simmons and Simon Henley). It has been visiting a lot of airports, and also community groups. It plans to take two years to make its recommendations, and it will then decide if it needs to have some statutory powers - it currently has no powers to get the industry to do anything. ICCAN says: "Our two-year aim - To improve public confidence and trust in the management of aviation noise, by building our expertise, credibility and profile across the UK."  There is currently a consultation on ICCAN's corporate strategy, which the public are requested to fill in.  No technical expertise is needed - and the views of ordinary people, to whom plane noise is of interest or concern, are solicited. Deadline 16th June. 

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Government announces it will be redesigning airspace to cram in yet more flights in already crowded skies

The DfT says UK airspace sectors will be redesigned "to accommodate more capacity and allow more direct flights, rather than following long-established lanes."  This is dressed up as being “greener” flying by rationalising the use of airspace. It is just to fit more flights into already very crowded airspace, to allow for more aviation expansion. The hope is that delays will be slightly reduced, and there would be a bit less stacking - so saving a small amount of jet fuel (and cutting the cost to airlines, for which profit margins are already tight, due to the competition to get bums onto plane seats). But the changes will mean more noise for many residents who already get some noise, and also plane noise for many who currently are barely overflown. Over the next few years, a new Airspace Change Organising Group, operating independently within the air-traffic service NATS, will oversee the changes. There will be few  places within tens of miles of Gatwick and Heathrow that are not affected by noise.There is almost nowhere people can choose to live, where there will be guaranteed to be NO plane noise.  The industry greenwash is that this will "will make flying cleaner, quieter and quicker, as we make our aviation sector one of the greenest in the world."

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South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) join the No 3rd Runway Coalition

The South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) have joined the No 3rdRunway Coalition.  This follows the recent addition of the London Borough of Southwark to the Coalition’s membership and reflects the increasing concern in communities across London about the impacts of Heathrow expansion.  PHASE is campaigning against concentrated flight paths over South East London, an area that would suffer far worse aircraft noise if there was ever a 3rd runway. These flight paths will be concentrated, creating what the CAA has described as noise canyons, over local communities. Research by Greenpeace suggests that as many as 1.6 million people could be left enduring nearly constant noise from aircraft, with a 3rd runway. Bridget Bell, of PHASE said:  "...plane noise and emissions affect South East Londoners badly, over 18 miles from Heathrow.  City Airport flight paths cross under those to Heathrow.  The result for many of us is double overflight; or cross-over flight which arises when planes to one airport stop and planes to the other start, giving the overflown no let-up of any sort.”

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Heathrow airport expansion ‘will expose 1.6 million people to near constant noise’

A third runway at Heathrow will expose 1.6 million people to “near constant” noise, according to an investigative report by Greenpeace.  There could be up to 47 flights passing over London every hour (except during the night period) if expansion goes ahead. By overlaying  flightpath maps published earlier this year with population data, Greenpeace found perhaps 11 million people lived in areas could be exposed to Heathrow noise above 65 decibels (about as loud as being in a busy office). About 1.6 million people live in areas closest to the airport; they are almost certain to experience noise levels at or above 65 decibels. Currently around 492,000 people experience at least 65 decibel Heathrow noise. This is NOT a local problem - it is far wider than that, and opponents cannot be accused of being "nimby".   Greenpeace Director John Sauven said: “This project is not in the interests of people living in the west of London. It is not in the interests of the UK economy. And it most certainly is not in the interests of the global climate. ...The government has all the public support they could possibly want for radical climate action. Cancelling Heathrow is the easiest measure available."

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