After two and a half years, Government closes down the ICCAN
The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) was finally set up by the government in March 2019, with the aim of looking into how the extra noise from airport expansion would affect those overflown, and the impacts of changes to flight paths. Its aim was not to reduce the amount of aircraft noise suffered, but to find out more about it, consult etc. Its creation had been a recommendation of the Airports Commission in June 2015, to make Heathrow expansion seem less unpalatable. Now Robert Courts, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, has announced that it is to be wound up at the end of September. Back in June 2015 ICCAN had said it would take them two years to: “Review existing enforcement mechanisms and consider whether enforcement powers are necessary”. It had been stated in 2019 that “ICCAN will be reviewed in two years’ time and a decision will be made about its future direction as an organisation, including whether to give it increased powers. In the meantime, ICCAN’s role is threefold: to listen, to evaluate and to advise.” The government now says its role will mainly be taken on by the CAA, and part by the DfT. That will not bring reassurance to those suffering from aircraft noise problems.
Government announcement – By minister Robert Courts
6th September 2021
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a reduction in aircraft movements in most areas, and with it a reduction in associated noise, but as the Government focuses on building back better and ensuring a successful UK aviation sector for the future, aviation noise will increase from current levels. It is therefore vital that Government has appropriate and credible advice on aviation noise related matters.
The Government established the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) in November 2018 to help ensure that the needs of local communities are properly taken into account when considering the noise impacts of airport expansion, and to help ensure that noise impacts of airspace changes are properly considered.
Following an independent review of ICCAN conducted earlier this year, I have concluded that many of ICCAN’s functions would be more efficiently performed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which already has a wider environmental remit. This will help ensure that noise is considered alongside other policy outcomes on the basis of high quality research and advice.
As a result, I can confirm that ICCAN will be wound down this month (September). This will be followed by a transitional phase during which my Department will work with the CAA, which will take on the majority of ICCAN’s former functions from April 2022. The CAA also plans to establish a new Environment Panel to provide it with independent expert advice on a range of environmental issues including carbon, air-quality and noise. ICCAN’s existing functions not transferred to the CAA, will remain within my Department.
ICCAN progress report, after a year’s work looking at aviation noise – it should be a priority post-Covid
What seems a long time ago, in 2015, the Airports Commission recommended that an independent body should be set up to deal with aircraft noise problems. So in 2019 ICCAN (the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up. It was hoped that this body would be able to help people who are subjected to aircraft noise, and who have no sensible means to get the level of noise nuisance reduced. In reality, ICCAN says its aim is “to improve trust and public confidence in the management of noise in the UK through the delivery of a comprehensive work programme.” And: “It is not, and never has been, our role to have a view on the future expansion of the aviation industry, but as part of making the UK a world leader in managing aviation noise ….” It has no powers. It has now produced its Progress Report, one year from starting work. Its main aim has been contacting many “stakeholders”, finding information, getting well informed. Now its lead commissioner, Rob Light, says the Covid pandemic “should be seen as a chance to rebuild and regrow aviation in a more sustainable way” and noise should be a key priority.
ICCAN produces review and 6 recommendations about aviation noise metrics and their measurement
The issue of plane noise has been of great concern to hundreds of thousands of people, for ages. ICCAN was set up in 2019 to look into the problem, seeing if there might be ways to manage it better, and for people to be considered more – and their noise concerns taken seriously. One key problem is how noise is measured, and therefore how overflown communities can get factual data on the noise they are experiencing. This is complicated. Acoustics is not a simple science, and especially difficult to explain in plain English to laypeople. The noise an area suffers depends on the number of planes overhead, their height, their type, what they are doing at the time, the frequency of the flights overhead, the time of day (or night) and the background level of noise an area already experiences. Traditionally aircraft noise is averaged over a period of time. That provides numbers that can be compared to other places and other times. But it makes no sense to those being affected. But nobody hears an average of plane noise. They hear a number of separate noisy events. Now ICCAN has produced a review of aircraft noise metric and their measurement, and their six recommendations, for how improvements should be made.
ICCAN consultation on its Corporate Strategy – public welcome to respond – deadline 16th June 2019
The Airports Commission suggested, back in 2015, that there should be an independent body looking into aircraft noise issues – largely to help reduce public opposition to the massive increase in noise that would be generated by a Heathrow 3rd runway. The ICCAN (Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up earlier this year, with a chairman (Rob Light) and three commissioners (Colin Noble, Howard Simmons and Simon Henley). It has been visiting a lot of airports, and also community groups. It plans to take two years to make its recommendations, and it will then decide if it needs to have some statutory powers – it currently has no powers to get the industry to do anything. ICCAN says: “Our two-year aim – To improve public confidence and trust in the management of aviation noise, by building our expertise, credibility and profile across the UK.” There is currently a consultation on ICCAN’s corporate strategy, which the public are requested to fill in. No technical expertise is needed – and the views of ordinary people, to whom plane noise is of interest or concern, are solicited.