Heathrow tries to make out that a 3rd runway and thousands more flights can help cut noise from flights

Heathrow airport is attempting to make out that building a 3rd runway, and adding on another 50% more flights will make the airport quieter. In this curiously distorted logic they say that a new runway to the south west could cut Heathrow noise pollution by 20% and one to the north by 10%.  Heathrow has had a special session with the Airports Commission, to put their point of view. They set out a 5-point plan to reduce noise through quieter aircraft eg. A380s, a new runway to the west of the existing two, steeper gradients of take-off and landing, changing runway use to provide respite for residents and home insulation schemes. In reality, the claims of aircraft becoming quieter are exaggerated – measurement in aircraft noise is by a logarithmic scale, so a 50% theoretical cut in sound energy only give a cut of 3 decibels in the perceived noise. The number of noise events is more important than the current noise measurement metric allows for – and the standard 57 dB contour does not properly reflect the experience of noise intrusion on the ground. The 2M group want a new  noise study to measure aircraft noise nuisance from Heathrow properly.




Heathrow bosses claim third runway can help cut noise from flights

Disputed: West London councils opposed to Heathrow expansion say that using a lower 55 decibel measure reveals that 700,000 people are affected by noise from the airport’s flights
7 September 2013

Heathrow chiefs today told the Government’s aviation supremo that they could build a third runway and still cut noise pollution by 20 per cent.

At a special hearing of the Davies Commission into how expansion would affect quality of life, they said the airport could be become “bigger and quieter” thanks to aircraft technology and operational innovations.

They set out a five-point plan which they say would reduce noise through quieter aircraft such as BA’s new fleet of A380s, a new runway to the west of the existing two, steeper gradients of take-off and landing, changing runway use to provide respite for residents and home insulation schemes.

Heathrow chiefs claim that a new runway to the west would reduce noise by 20 per cent, and a new runway north of the airport by 10 per cent.

They told the hearing that despite the number of flights nearly doubling since the Seventies about 90 per cent fewer people were affected by noise — based on the 57 decibel measure used by the Government.

They disputed claims that the boom in flights had adversely affected quality of life near the airport, pointing out that the population of Hounslow was up by 20 per cent in the past decade.

Heathrow sustainability director Matt Gorman said: “The evidence we have submitted to the Commission today shows it is possible to add the flights that will boost UK jobs, growth and trade while keeping the impact on local residents to a minimum.”

West London councils opposed to Heathrow expansion say that using a lower 55 decibel measure reveals that 700,000 people are affected by noise from the airport’s flights.

Today they called on the Davies Commission to adopt a new model for measuring the effect that living under the flightpath has on quality of life.

The 2M group wants the Government to adopt the ANASE study which sets a lower threshold to register residents’ annoyance at aircraft noise.  (see link)

Hillingdon council leader Ray Puddifoot said: “It shouldn’t be down to the local authorities to resurrect the ANASE findings. It is astonishing that neither the last government or the present one had done this.”

Airport operators were told by the Davies Commission to submit evidence on noise pollution at the latest in a series of hearings that have also covered climate change, the economy, forecast demand for new flights and the merits of a hub airport.

Sir Howard Davies will publish an interim report in December which is expected to list a handful of options for long-term solution to the capacity crisis, as well as short-term fixes such as improved road and rail links to airports in the South-East.



In reality, A ‘50% reduction in perceived noise levels is misleading.   A halving of sound pressure levels equates to a 3 decibel decrease but a reduction of 3 decibels is the minimum perceptible change under normal conditions.It takes a reduction of about 10 decibels to achieve a 50% reduction in loudness and this level of improvement in aircraft noise performance by 2020 is not remotely possible, even for new aircraft.   (For more detail on aircraft noise see https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=12070 )





2M group of councils call for new study into attitudes to aircraft noise

Date added: September 8, 2013

The 2M group of Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion – which initially included some 2 million residents, but now includes many more – has called for a new study to be carried out into attitudes to aircraft noise. Without an updated study, the councils fear the Airports Commission will be limited to basing their recommendations on sites for new airport capacity on surveys carried out more than 30 years ago. The 2M Group – made up of Wandsworth, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond, Windsor and Maidenhead, Southwark, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, and South Bucks councils, have also republished the ANASE study into attitudes to aircraft noise which was rejected by the last Government in 2007. The study showed the official method for measuring community annoyance did not take account of the rising numbers of aircraft. The councils say that, while adopting the ANASE findings would provide the commission with a more robust benchmark, the real answer is to order a brand new study that properly reflects current attitudes.

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Heathrow and Gatwick in dogfight over noise

Heathrow and Gatwick have gone to battle over noise pollution as they both seek to persuade a commission that will decide where to build new runways in Britain that their respective expansion plans will have a minimal impact on local communities.

By , Leisure and Transport Correspondent (Telegraph)

6 Sep 2013

Gatwick launched an attack on its rival on Friday, claiming its own noise impacts are “many times lower than those of Heathrow”, as jets approaching its runway do not fly over “highly populated” areas in London.

“Nothing in the future can change this basic fact,” Gatwick said, urging that noise pollution should “weigh heavily” in the thinking of the Government-backed Airports Commission.

Heathrow mounted a defence with a raft of evidence to back up its claim that up to 20pc fewer people will live within its “noise footprint” in 2030 than today, even if it is allowed to expand to three runways. The West London hub has told the commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, that new, quieter aircraft such as the Airbus A380 will help reduce noise pollution for local communities.

It also argues that the sites it has put forward as possible locations for a third runway are further west of the existing airport, meaning aircraft will fly 300ft higher above London when they start their approach to land, reducing noise on the ground.

The Airports Commission will draw up a short-list of options by the end of the year before making its final recommendations in 2015 over where new runways should be built.

Gatwick, which wants to build a second runway at a cost of £5bn-£9bn, is also pressing the commission to ensure that the same measurements are used to assess the potential noise effects of all schemes, pointing out that Heathrow currently uses a different system. “Even with a second runway, Gatwick would impact less than 5pc of the people impacted by Heathrow today,” argued Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate.



some of the comments below the article:
  • John Byng


    There is no need for any new runways.  Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City airports all have lots of spare capacity and so has every other airport in the UK outside the South East.  Most of those other airports are in areas of unemployment and could do with the extra business.

    As for the comparison between noise impacts.  An allowance (say 10 dB) needs to be made for ambient noise because aircraft noise is far more disturbing in quiet environments than when masked by traffic noise.  When you make that allowance, a new runway at Gatwick would be just as damaging to health and well-being as one at Heathrow.  And then a further allowance should be made to protect Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB), which surround Gatwick and which are a valuable leisure facility.

    Airlines are pressing for a new runway at Heathrow because they would like to concentrate their operations there and force their customers to drive to Heathrow rather than fly from their local airports.  They do not want a new runway at Gatwick nor anywhere else.  They pretend that a new runway at Heathrow would be in the national interest but it would not benefit anybody except the airlines.  They should be told “No new runways.  Use the spare capacity that already exists. End of argument.”

  • …….. No – hub is the excuse the airlines use for wanting expansion at Heathrow.  They suggest it is vital to the UK economy to have a hub in the UK.  But the UK is not well placed for a hub.  And British travellers (including businessmen) do not benefit from using a badly placed hub.  The UK would not benefit from adding to our stock of under-utilized runways just so the airlines could concentrate all their flights at Heathrow.  They need to be told “No  NEW RUNWAYS.”

  • Since there is plenty of spare capacity at every airport except Heathrow, defering a decision on where to build an unnecessary runway seems sensible.

  •  ………..

    The constellation idea would seem sensible if new runway were needed but they are not.  Every airport in the country, except Heathrow, has got lots of spare capacity.  We should use that capacity rather than force customers to drive to Heathrow.