Below are links to stories about noise in relation to airports and aviation.
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.
Plans to expand Bristol Airport accused of being flawed; decision put off till early 2020
A decision on Bristol Airport's major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport's on-site infrastructure. A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment - there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support. Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise. When they declared a "climate emergency", Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport's expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit. The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved "access international export markets." In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys. The application will be considered by North Somerset Council's planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.
Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments
Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a 3rd runway should be reviewed urgently. The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for Heathrow expansion was designated in June 2018 - at a time when the UK was committed to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions, from the 1990 level, by 2050. But in June 2019 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to a 100% cut – with the strengthening based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’. This same logic needs to be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’ And there has been. In September 2019 the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 - and measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050.’ The Heathrow case needs urgent review in relation to climate policy, and also noise. The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen - the obstacles are insurmountable.
Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications
Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion. The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged. Many UK airports are seeking - or have announced their intention to seek - planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017. There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises, "limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”.The letter says: "Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications."
Sadiq Khan attacks London City Airport expansion plans – “unfettered growth is not an option”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously. The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel - not business - and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year. The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of "net zero emissions by 2050 "does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.