Farnborough Airport inquiry hears new round of noise arguments

17.6.2010 (Get Hampshire)

By Jack Sommers      


Arguments about how annoying the noise of 50,000 flights over homes each year
might be have continued at the Farnborough Airport inquiry this week, as an end
to the proceedings looms.

Airport owner TAG – fighting to be given permission for 50,000 flights a year
instead of 28,000 – has been arguing with Rushmoor Borough Council about how effective
a system for measuring noise is.

According to the current system, the sound from the extra 22,000 flights would
have a minimal effect on people and was within the ‘noise budget’ the council
said the airport could not exceed.

TAG’s noise expert Jeff Charles took to the stand two weeks ago to present his
analysis supporting plans for more flights.

This week, Rushmoor Borough Council’s noise expert Dani Fiumicelli was presenting
his case, claiming that the method of measuring noise was effectively irrelevant
to people who actually endure it.

According to the noise system, each property under the flightpath is assigned
an overall decibel number, with 57dB as the definition of ‘community annoyance’.

This is roughly equivalent to a nearby car driving slowly and slightly louder
than bird song, according to evidence put before the inquiry.

When the council’s lawyer Simon Bird cross-examined Mr Charles, he questioned
how effective the system was, saying it did not account for the fact that the
noise of planes from the airport was intermittent, meaning it interrupted people’s
days rather than a continuous, less disturbing noise.

Mr Charles replied that he was using the tools he had been given to measure noise.

Public speaking

When Mr Fiumicelli took to the stand on Tuesday, John Steel, TAG’s lawyer, began
by asking him about the reputation of noise consultants Hepworth Acoustic Ltd,
which TAG has employed to argue its case.

Mr Steel asked: "It’s fair to say that they are competent consultants noise consultants?"

Mr Fiumicelli replied that they were an “established consultancy”.

Mr Steel then said: "Isn’t it fair to say that if there were reason to doubt
their system, it’s right they should give considerable weight to the consultancy’s

"Isn’t it fair to say that if they found something that would be a cause of concern,
they would record it?"

Mr Fiumicelli replied that he could not comment.

He was followed by the council’s second witness, Peter Forbes, who was testifying
about the economic impact. He will be followed by town planner Robert Sellwood.

After all three have testified, Geoff Marks, the chairman of Farnborough Aerodrome
Residents’ Association, will present his evidence.

The council is expecting members of the public to be able to address the inquiry
next Wednesday (January 23).

Seventeen people have so far volunteered to speak and most will be assigned a
morning or afternoon slot on that day.

When the inquiry is over, planning inspector David Richards will make a recommendation
to the secretaries of state for Transport and Communities and Local Government
for them to make a final decision.




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