Wandsworth Council vows to fight Heathrow night flight threat
Wandsworth Council says it has vowed to fight plans by the Airports Commission to increase the number of night flights over London. The Government’s second stage consultation on a new night flight regime proposes no significant changes to the existing rules despite new evidence on the health and social impacts of sleep deprivation caused by aircraft noise. The consultation documents say the Airports Commission will make recommendations for night flights in its final report in 2015. Flightpath communities in Battersea and Putney already suffer an average 16 early morning arrivals before 6am. They complain bitterly about these pre 6am flights (classified as night flights) and suffer from sleep deprivation and fatigue which affects their work and undermines their quality of life. The DfT’s own impact assessments link prolonged exposure to night flights to serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, strokes and hypertension. The Commission’s first report uses the outdated ‘57 decibel’ Leq metric to define aircraft noise impacts. That has infuriated noise campaigners who claim it grossly underestimates a flightpath noise footprint, and does not properly represent the noise experienced. The Commission will now look at some more effective metrics.
Wandsworth Council vows to fight night flight threat
28th January 2014
by Jamie Henderson, Chief Reporter (Surrey Comet)
Wandsworth Council has vowed to fight plans by the Airports Commission to increase the number of night flights over London.
The Government’s second stage consultation on a new night flight regime proposes no significant changes to the existing rules despite new evidence on the health and social impacts of sleep deprivation caused by aircraft noise.
The consultation documents say the commission led by Sir Howard Davies, which is reviewing airport capacity, will make recommendations for night flights in its final report in 2015.
The Department for Transport’s own impact assessments link prolonged exposure to night flights to serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, strokes and hypertension.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “We already suffer an average 16 early morning arrivals before 6am.
“Davies has already recommended more night flights without basing this on any credible evidence of the noise impact on local communities.
“He is relying on a study of people’s attitudes to noise that was carried out more than 30 years ago.
Sir Howard’s first report uses the outdated ‘57 decibel’ marker to define aircraft noise impacts which has infuriated campaigners who claim it grossly underestimates a flightpath noise footprint.
Davies has also shortlisted Heathrow as a potential location for new runways despite its existing noise impacts being far more severe than any other airport in Europe.
Wandsworth Council warns that more runways will mean more flightpaths and greater demand for night flights.
To respond to the consultation visit the Government’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Better noise metrics than the discredited Leq to be used by Airports Commission in appraising short-listed runway schemes
Date added: January 28, 2014
In a blog, John Stewart says that at long last – and not before time – the Airports Commission is now considering improving on the Leq system. In the past, aircraft noise has been measured and averaged out, to give an Leq figure. This has been convenient to the aviation industry, as it gives an unrepresentative reflection of the reality of the noise, as experienced by those living below flight paths and being disturbed. For example, by averaging noise events over a period it is possible to claim that one Concorde flying overhead is the same, in noise terms, as having a Boeing 757 flying overhead, every 2 minutes, for almost 4 hours. Clearly that is not a sensible noise metric to use, when deciding to inflict more aircraft noise on thousands of people. The 57Leq contours have always been used to produce contours, in theory indicating where the noise is “annoying”. Now the Commission will be also using other metrics – and require the promoters of the short-listed schemes to use them. One is Lden, where noise is measured over a 12 hour day; a 4 hour evening; and an 8 hour night; with 5 and 10 decibels being added to the evening and night levels respectively to reflect the lower background noise levels at these times. And a 54 db LAeq metric. And N70 – which measures the number of aircraft above 70 decibels passing overhead. Click here to view full story…
Heathrow to hold 6 week consultation (starting 3rd Feb) with households on their north-west runway plan
January 17, 2014
Heathrow will start a six week consultation with local households on 3rd February, lasting till 17th March. It will ask for their views on Heathrow’s own short-listed north-west third runway plan. The airport wants to get its application as acceptable as possible to locals, to give it more chance of being permitted. “The results will help Heathrow understand what is most important to local residents and will be used to refine the runway proposal before it is resubmitted to the Airports Commission in May.” The consultation will be by post, and will be sent to the 120,000 households and businesses likely to be most impacted by the proposed plans. Those outside this area will have the opportunity to share their views online. There will also be drop-in events in nine local areas, to give people the chance to ask questions and “influence the plans.” The results will be shared with the Airports Commission, as part of Heathrow’s evidence. Heathrow knows that the issue of noise is key, and they will fail in their runway plans if there is strong enough opposition by enough people, on noise. They are hoping “mitigation” measures will be enough to reduce opposition. In reality people from huge areas of London, currently hardly affected by Heathrow aircraft noise, would be affected by this runway. Click here to view full story…
Airports Commission interim report recommends setting up an Independent Aviation Noise Authority
January 3, 2014
The Airports Commission’s Interim Statement on 17th December, advocating runways at Heathrow and Gatwick, also said it also recommended: “The creation of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations.” The Commission says that decisions made by the DfT or the CAA at present, and they are often seen not to be fair, and to be driven by political considerations and that the CAA is beholden to the industry that provides its funding. An independent body might over come this. The Commission says: “An independent, national authority with a credible and authoritative voice on noise issues could be of significant value. ….It could also act as a statutory consultee on other noise related issues, including involvement in planning inquiries which would have implications for populations affected by aircraft noise…..The authority could also play a role in the delivery of longer-term plans for additional airport capacity. ….should include responsibilities for advising the Secretary of State for Transport and the CAA in respect of appropriate noise compensation schemes.” The establishment of the Independent Aircraft Noise Authority would require primary legislation; setting it up will take time. Meanwhile there is work on noise to be done. Click here to view full story…
BA fears cuts to early morning Heathrow flights before 7am – says cuts would have “dramatic impact” on business travellers
November 16, 2013
British Airways wants to keep as many flights into Heathrow in the early morning as it can. It is saying it does not want restrictions on flights before 7am. BA’s head of sales and marketing Richard Tams said any further restrictions on landings at Heathrow between 04.30 and 07.00 each day could have a “dramatic impact on business travellers.” Currently only 16 flights are allowed to land at Heathrow between 04.30 and 06.00 with a total of 65 take-offs and landings allowed between 06.00 and 07.00 each day. The current night flights regime will remain in place till October 2017. BA says “These early morning flights are critical because a lot of flights from the US and the Far East land during this period – they are critical for people transiting through London.” Not letting BA have these flights – which are deeply unpopular with thousands of Londoners, who get woken up too early – would, says BA, “dramatically impact the schedule we could offer out of London.” Usual situation – it’s a question of the health and quality of life (and sleep) for thousands, up against t he ability of BA to make more money.
Government to make no significant change to night flights regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted until Airports Commission report
November 11, 2013
In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports,Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be publishes later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.
Evidence on how the 57 Leq noise contours for Heathrow fail to fully reflect aircraft noise impacts
November 11, 2013
In a blog on the anomalies of how aircraft noise is currently measured, John Stewart writes of the odd situation where roads in London are regarded as quiet, ignoring the obvious impact of Heathrow flightpaths overhead. This arises in areas such as Clapham, which are well outside the 57 Leq contour, which it is wrongly alleged, is the limit at which aircraft noise is a problem, or annoys/upsets people. The number of complaints about aircraft noise that come from areas well beyond the 57 Leq contour are evidence that it is not a measure that reflects reality. A better system for measuring aircraft noise experienced is Lden (day, evening, night) with noise in evening and night given a higher weighting, to reflect the greater impact, and greater annoyance, it has on those overflown. The European Commission requires member states to use 55Lden when drawing up their noise maps. That is more realistic than 57 Leq. It is understood that Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, is looking seriously at a more realistic noise metric.
Heathrow has highest weekly number of (noisy) 747 flights of any world airport
November 10, 2013
Figures from Anna aero, which celebrates routes, flights, links etc and associated airports, show that Heathrow continues to have by far the highest number of Boeing 747s of any other global airport. 747s are noisy planes, as well as being huge. They are likely to be as noisy as – or even noisier than – the A380. Some studies show the A380 being up to 5 decibels quieter at some measurement stations, though it depends on which engines the planes are using; the noise is both from engines and airframe. The 747 – 400 is ranked as Quote count 4 on departure and 2 on arrival. By comparison the A320 series is ranked at about 2 and 1 respectively. Anna aero shows Heathrow has 298 weekly departures of Boeing 747s, with the next highest airport Taipei with 174. Then third is Frankfurt, with 150. Now the A380 has taken over for new orders, there have been fewer and fewer new 747s being delivered, with just 20 ordered in the past 5 years and zero ordered in 2013.