House of Commons briefing note on aviation noise – recognises it as a source of “constant annoyance” for many
The House of Commons Library has put out a “Standard Note” on “Aviation: Noise pollution.” This recognises that “aviation noise is a source of constant annoyance to those who live under airport flight paths and for those subject to lower levels of disturbance caused by low flying smaller aircraft and helicopters. This form of noise pollution is explicitly excluded from general noise nuisance legislation.” It sets out the general scale of the problem and how this is measured and mapped. It goes on to say: “Arguably the easiest way to reduce noise impacts from aviation is to close or at least restrict the growth of airports.” It recognises that there is a fundamental conflict between increasing aviation capacity and limiting or reducing noise impacts; greater numbers of flights outweighs slight improvements in noise per plane. While Sustainable Aviation (funded by the aviation industry) hopes aviation can grow with no increase in noise (!?) the note says: “the Aviation Environment Federation, an NGO supported by environmental groups, argued that expansion schemes should meet stringent noise criteria in order to be approved.”
Aviation: noise pollution – Commons Library Standard Note
5 June 2014 |
Standard notes SN00261
Authors: Louise Butcher
Aviation noise is a source of constant annoyance to those who live under airport flight paths and for those subject to lower levels of disturbance caused by low flying smaller aircraft and helicopters. This form of noise pollution is explicitly excluded from general noise nuisance legislation.
This note sets out the general scale of the problem in terms of noise impacts not only from aircraft but from airport operations more generally and explains how this is measured and mapped. It then summarises a number of measures that can be used to reduce aviation noise. These are largely focused on the tackling the problem ‘at source’, i.e. through quieter aircraft design, and by discouraging the use of noisier aircraft through international standards and operational changes and incentives.
The note also outlines the position of the Coalition Government in this regard and sets out the views of the independent Airports Commission, tasked with looking into the future of UK airport capacity. The Commission published a discussion paper on aviation noise in July 2013 and an interim report, in which it recommended that the Government set up an Independent Aviation Noise Authority, in December 2013. The final report is expected sometime in 2015.
This note does not look at the night flights regime at Heathrow and Gatwick, wherein the number of flights are limited during the hours of darkness: this is explained further in SN1252.
Download the full report
Some extracts from the “Aviation: noise pollution” document:
The Airports Commission (July 2013) categorised the effects of noise by considering them in three groups: health effects, amenity effects and productivity and learning effects. ( Discussion Paper 05: Aviation Noise. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223764/airports-commission-noise.pdf )
(Original text gives links to references)
noise and hypertension is ‘fairly well’ established and that the 2008 European HYENA study, which focused on a number of major European airports, found that night time aircraft noise was associated with increased hypertension and that aircraft noise events are associated with an elevation of blood pressure.
In January 2013 the CAA published a literature review on aircraft noise, sleep disturbance and health impacts. It concluded that findings were “not conclusive and are often contradictory, highlighting the practical difficulties in designing studies of this nature”.
Recent EU research conducted around six European airports found that exposure to aircraft noise at night for more than 20 years could increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
decibels of noise.
commonly used outcome to evaluate the effect of noise on communities and cited ANASE
and subsequent studies as showing that “the proportion of people being ‘highly annoyed’ at a particular exposure has increased”. In terms of sleep disturbance it said that this is one of the impacts most commonly described by those who live with high levels of noise exposure, and one that “can a have a substantial impact upon quality of life”. However, the Commission stated that it is less clear to what extent and at what level noise can cause harmful loss of sleep, and equally whether lesser reactions to noise, which do not involve awakening, can affect general well-being in similar ways.Finally, on productivity and learning effects the Commission stated that the European
RANCH study found that road traffic students suffered impaired reading comprehension and recognition memory from aircraft noise, likely because of the ‘transient nature’ of aircraft movements, with short term peaks in noise affecting concentration and providing
Data from the CAA shows that the top fifteen airports in the UK account for over one-third of
the population affected by noise at the European level using standard measurements, with
Heathrow accounting for more than a quarter.
2 Measures for tackling noise pollution
in its Noise Action Plan that “aircraft innovations and engine technology, operational
advancements and better land-use planning offer the potential to reduce UK aviation noise
output by 2050 compared to 2010, despite a forecast growth in flights”.
suggestions for reducing aviation noise, including:- concentrating aircraft along the smallest possible number of specified routes, avoiding
densely populated areas as far as possible, using new aircraft navigational
technology such as performance based navigation- concentrating noise through the creation of multiple arrival and departure routes to
performance based navigation standard to avoid the creation of ‘noise ghettos’; and
– the development of a ‘noise envelope’ to create a balance between aviation growth
and noise reduction with the objective of incentivising airlines to introduce quieter
aircraft whilst giving local communities more certainty about the levels of noise they
may expect in the future. This could be achieved via a movement cap noise contour-based restrictions or noise level caps.
When the Chapter 3 standard was introduced in 2002, by European Directive 92/14/EEC, it
led to the elimination of most of the noisier planes meeting Chapter 2 noise standards from European skies. The phasing out of noisier Chapter 2 aircraft was governed by certain
conditions, among which exemptions were provided to operators in developing nations, as
agreed with ICAO, for specific aircraft.
The cumulative effect of these changes is debatable as reductions in noise generated by individual aircraft have to be balanced against increases in the numbers of aircraft in operation, particularly around larger airports that have continued to expand – even when they have not been able to do so geographically with new runways.
includes a proposal for an EU Regulation on noise which would repeal the current Directive; allow airport authorities to phase out more easily the very noisiest aircraft; give the Commission a scrutiny role, ex ante, on new noise measures; and improve noise mapping and administrative support to ensure the efficient use of the European airspace.