Noise from planes approaching Gatwick flying over Edenbridge at ‘damaging levels’
Noise from planes flying over Edenbridge is at potentially damaging levels, according to a Courier investigation. Edenbridge is about 8 miles from Gatwick, directly under the approach path. Our study of sound levels over the town showed residents are being forced to put up with conditions that some experts believe could have long-term health implications, such as hypertension, hearing impairment and increased risk of heart disease. Recently monitoring of the noise there showed spikes of up to 91 decibels under the flight path, around 9am, checking 29 planes flying overhead. They had an average volume of 72.7 decibels and a peak of 91. Local residents find it is the constant repetition and long duration of the noise that makes it so annoying.
Noise from planes flying over Edenbridge at ‘damaging levels’
April 20, 2012 (Edenbridge Courier)
MEASURING: Edenbridge Courier reporter Sharon Marris
NOISE from planes flying over Edenbridge ( map showing location, about 8 miles east of Gatwick, directly on the approach flight path) is at potentially damaging levels, according to a Courier investigation.
Our study of sound levels over the town showed residents are being forced to put up with conditions that some experts believe could have long-term health implications, such as hypertension, hearing impairment and increased risk of heart disease.
Airline industry guidance says 57 decibels is the level at which noise is deemed a nuisance, while the World Health Organisation sets a 70-decibel guideline for high streets.
This week we monitored spikes of up to 91 decibels under the flight path.
During an hour-long study from8.40amwe stood at Edenbridge Recreation Ground with a decibel meter – equipment used to gauge sound levels – and recorded 29 planes overhead.
They had an average volume of 72.7 decibels and a peak of 91.
A person can only put up with a sound level of 91 decibels for two hours each day before their hearing is put at risk, according to a study by US-basedOregonHearingResearchCenter.
GatwickAirport, which disputed our findings, sets its own limits much higher – at 94 decibels between7amand11pm– and has defended its efforts to reduce disturbance to people living beneath the flight path.
Hever resident David Baron also measures the noise of the planes passing overhead and blames it for his heart failure and hospital admission in 2010.
Mr Baron, 74, who lives just 13 miles from Gatwick, said the Courier’s results justified residents’ complaints about the noise.
He added: “The average level of 72.4 decibels you recorded is loud, and is a regular occurrence in the Hever area.
“It is the constant repetition and long duration of the noise that makes it so annoying.
“The top level you recorded of 91 decibels is very loud and could be hazardous to health.”
The Aviation Environment Federation lobbies for more environmentally-friendly air travel.
Its deputy director Cait Hewitt said: “The noise measurements you took would certainly not be high enough to damage hearing but would be loud enough to disrupt conversation between people in their garden or on the street.
“As numbers of aircraft movements increase, this disturbance can lead to annoyance, and in some cases, increased risk of hypertension and more heart attacks.
“This is especially true if the noise takes place at night and disrupts sleep.”
In a letter to Mr Baron last year, then director of the Kent Health Protection Unit, Dr Mathi Chandrakumar, backed Hever residents’ concerns about aircraft noise.
He wrote: “The levels of noise – at 70 decibels – could constitute a serious annoyance. They may thus be injurious to people’s well-being.”
Professor Robert Maynard, chairman of the Health Protection Agency‘s ad hoc expert group on noise and health, this week told the Courier that evidence showed environmental noise – which includes that from aircraft and road traffic – was associated with raised blood pressure and has small effects on the risk of coronary heart disease.
He said: “Although the magnitude of the effects of environmental noise on blood pressure is small, the effects are still important as noise exposure is so widespread in the population.”
The Aircraft Noise Index Study concluded in 1987 that 57 decibels was the level at which aircraft noise became a nuisance. The lowest we recorded in Edenbridge was 61.6 decibels.
Sevenoaks District Council spokesman Simone Stevens said the council understood residents’ concerns but had no legal powers to do anything about the noise.
GatwickAirportspokeswoman Sarah Baranowski said there were no noise limits on over-flying aircraft and that our hand-held decibel recorder could be affected by sounds not produced by planes, whereas those used by the industry “give a true aircraft noise contribution”.
She added: “It is worth noting that Gatwick and the airlines that operate from Gatwick are signatories to the voluntary arrivals code of practice.
“What that means is that airlines operate descent methods that minimise the generation of noise on approach.
“For example, aircraft at Gatwick fly continuous descent approaches, which ensure aircraft fly higher for longer, therefore reducing noise impact on the ground.”
There is more information about aircraft noise at
and about aircraft noise and health, in particular, at
Noise and Health