Almost 3,500 people took part in a survey organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition on aircraft noise during Covid lockdown. The aim was to see what impact the absence (or near absence) of aircraft noise had on people who are usually overflown. 80% of respondents found the experience of fewer flights to be positive. 49% noticed the reduction in flights all day long. 52% said there had been an impact on their sleep. The most common themes in responses were the beneficial effect of fewer flights on mental and physical health, through a reduction in noise, and (from postcodes close to roads providing access to the airport) an appreciable improvement of air quality. Health impacts mentioned included improved sleeping patterns, greater use of gardens, and greater enjoyment of green spaces. The survey also included responses from around airports other than Heathrow (Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Leeds Bradford). Paul McGuinness, Chair of the Coalition, said: “With powerful clarity this survey presents a picture of just what will be lost, in quality of life terms, when flights resume at Heathrow.” The absence of flights has been a unique opportunity to appreciate how great the impact of the noise normally is, with Heathrow working at full capacity.
1st July 2020
From the No 3rd Runway Coalition
Thousands of people from across London and surrounding areas have found the experience of fewer flights to have had a positive effect on their lives, a survey has found (1).
The survey, initiated by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, examined the impact on local communities under a flight path during the lockdown period.
From substantial reductions in the level of annoyance from noise, to the absence to its several, distinct negative impacts on health, this atypically large sample from around Heathrow airport’s hinterland, seems to have produced a singularly unified report (2).
The most common themes were the beneficial effect of fewer flights on mental and physical health, through a reduction in noise, and (from postcodes close to roads providing access to the airport) an appreciable improvement of air quality (through reduced air pollution).
Of the 80% who found the experience of fewer flights to be positive:
A range of consequential, positive benefits were also cited, from improved sleeping patterns to greater use of gardens, and greater enjoyment of green spaces.
A wide range of responses was received from across London and surrounding counties. There was also a range of responses from communities near other airports (Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Leeds Bradford).
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“With powerful clarity this survey presents a picture of just what will be lost, in quality of life terms, when flights resume at Heathrow. In the past, residents have been told that it’s difficult to measure Heathrow’s impacts, because there has never been a flight absence against which to compare them. But lockdown has provided that opportunity. And communities have realised just how detrimental the airport’s activities are. Statistically, Heathrow has long been the world’s most disruptive airport, as a direct consequence of its location, at the heart of the UK’s most densely packed residential community. Flights should be reduced at airports sitting amongst concentrated residential areas, and certainly not increased.”
Professor Stephen Stansfeld from Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London, said:
“Your survey has revealed striking improvements in local quality of life and perceived health and sleep following the reduction of flights resulting from lockdown. People are reporting both improved air quality and a great reduction in noise. As a society this should make us stop in our tracks and consider whether we shouldn’t cut down on air travel in the future. This ‘natural experiment’ has made us realise the true cost of air travel to the population living around airports.”
Dr. Anna Hansell, Professor in Environmental Epidemiology,
University of Leicester, said:
“Lockdown resulted in a remarkable natural experiment, giving an unprecedented reduction in transport levels. While there has been a lot of media attention to the drop in air pollution during lockdown, there was also a large reduction in transport noise. There is little information on the changes in noise to date, so this survey of people’s experiences of changes in aircraft noise is very welcome. I note that over 2500 people of nearly 3200 surveyed found the experience of fewer flights to be positive, while only 100 found this to be negative. However, as with any survey, it’s important to know about how the respondents came to take part. For example, people who feel more strongly about transport noise may have been more likely to take part.”
David Simmonds, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow and Regional Airports and MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, said:
“I welcome the research undertaken by the No 3rd Runway Coalition. It is apparent from the survey results that residents under these flight paths have been considerably affected by overhead flights. The travel industry has been transformed by Covid-19, and the country’s long-term air travel needs are as yet unknown. We do know that many of us, including my constituents, are spending a great deal more time at home enjoying the outdoors wherever possible.
“This research confirms that an increase in overhead flights will greatly disrupt residents’ enjoyment of their homes and local outdoor spaces. In this new world we live in, that eventuality is both undesirable and unnecessary.”
-The survey was conducted using an online questionnaire shared via the Coalition’s mailing lists and social media channels.
-To ensure that this was not entirely self-selecting we also paid for an audience panel, via Smart Survey) which supplied 1128 responses.
For more information, contact:
Rob Barnstone on 07806947050 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Flights using Gatwick will slowly restart from 15th June, so noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions are set to increase again. Local campaigners, GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) are asking Gatwick to embed noise and other environmental improvements into their recovery plans. During Covid lockdown, Gatwick was only open for a period each afternoon and evening with no night flights. People normally adversely affected by plane noise have benefited hugely from the welcome break from plane intrusion. GACC wants a continuing ban on night flights, especially as air traffic will not return to pre-Covid levels for an unknown time. The Covid pandemic is a unique opportunity for the airport to re-establish a pattern of working that is less environmentally damaging, in terms of noise and carbon. GACC is asking that as well as a night ban, airlines should prioritise flying their least noisy aircraft in their fleets – and provide incentives that encourage airlines permanently to retire older, noisier and more polluting aircraft. Also to use air traffic control to disperse noise, minimise arrival noise impact, and achieve higher, quicker, departures.
15.6.2020 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Flights using Gatwick are expected to increase from 15 June when the airport’s opening hours increase and some airlines recommence operations.
Noise, air pollution and carbon dioxide emission levels are set to increase again.
GACC asks Gatwick to embed noise and other environmental improvements into the airport’s
Airport requested to stay closed at night, encourage quieter aircraft and optimise arrivals and departures so noise is minimised.
Peter Barclay, Chairman of GACC says “Communities around Gatwick and under flight paths have seen significant noise and air pollution benefits over recent months. Many people value these greatly and want to see them retained. In short, we would like the airport to build back better, starting immediately.”
GACC recognises that some much-needed improvements in the airport’s noise and environmental performance will take time and investment. However, it believes there are a number of actions Gatwick and its airline customers should take now to help ensure that the impact of renewing flights is minimised in the short term.
It has therefore written to the airport asking it to:
Peter Barclay is Chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.
There are almost no flights at Gatwick, nor have there been for weeks, due to the Covid pandemic lockdown. When flights will resume is not known, but even aviation optimists think it could take 3-4 years (or more) for air travel demand to again reach the level in 2019 – if it ever does. However, the airport says it is still going ahead ahead with plans to bring its current emergency runway into use as a full runway. But local campaign, GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has written to Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, asking the airport to drop its expansion plans, arguing not only that there is no credible demand case, but it would be incompatible with national and local environmental goals. Peter Barclay, GACC chairman, said the group sympathised with employees and others whose jobs had been affected, but believes there is no credible case for expansion at Gatwick. It is also undesirable that the planning process would absorb council and other resources that should be focused on supporting people and businesses impacted by the pandemic. GACC says the plans for the emergency runway should be withdrawn.
Gatwick airport has said will push ahead with plans for a 2nd runway after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that the plan for another runway will not require changes to the airspace around Gatwick. That had potentially threatened to pose a significant barrier. The CAA (paid for by the airlines) that is the regulator for the airlines, said that there would be no change to the design of flight paths in or out of Gatwick as a direct result of the new runway, adding: “The environmental impact relating to this proposal is assessed as nil.” (sic) [Presumably they are ignoring the carbon emissions which will not, of course, be nil]. Gatwick wants to have an extra 50,000 annual flights (up from around 285,000 now) by using its existing emergency runway as a full runway, part of the time. The airspace consent by the CAA effectively allows Gatwick to push ahead with a DCO (Development Consent Order), which is needed for the development, Currently the airport has been hit very hard by the Covid pandemic, with flights down by over 98% compared to last year, airlines facing almost no air travel demand, saying they may leave Gatwick, for Heathrow.
Many organisations are united in their determination that when the aviation sector emerges from the Covid pandemic and lockdown, it will have to be slimmed down, and commit to effective and real cuts in its carbon emissions. There will need to be low-carbon jobs, in place of jobs in high carbon sectors that will need to change. A new informal grouping has been formed, between trade union and environmental campaigners, to help push for environmental and climate conditions being placed on any government assistance for the aviation sector, and more “green” jobs in future. It is named the “Aviation Climate Alliance”, and its membership includes AirportWatch, the PCS union, the Stay Grounded movement, the Campaign Against Climate Change, and the Aviation Communities Forum (ACA). It will produce regular newsletters, putting many of the news items and relevant pieces of information together, to help campaigners access the news and facts. The first newsletter has been produced, and can be seen here . It was kindly put together by Tahir Latif, of the PCS union. To be added to the mailing list, email@example.com.
The Aviation Climate Alliance is an association of existing groups who share a concern about the impact of aviation on climate change.
The ACA is a forum for focusing on that subject, with the objective of harnessing the collective strength of participants to produce positive change.
Not all participants have exactly the same views but we do have a common aim of reducing aviation’s impact on the environment and a commitment to open debate of the means of achieving that aim.
This newsletter is the first communication under the ACA banner. The intention is to bring together the mass of information, speculation and proposals being discussed for what a post-Covid-19 aviation industry could look like, and for how we use the opportunity of the hiatus in flying to make impending climate breakdown a clear priority for our future transport system.
Hence this particular newsletter functions as a gathering of information already extant.
Future communications will present more detailed debates around particular aspects, but our initial intention is to show that the diversity of material presented or linked here clearly demonstrates that this is a real movement – not just the ideas of one or two isolated individuals.
We hope you find it useful.
We want the alliance to grow – any and all organisations, campaign groups and activists with a positive contribution to make are welcome.
To be added to the mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org
See the whole newsletter at
As aviation experiences an all-time low in demand for air travel, ICCAN – the UK’s Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise – has proposed to use the unique opportunity to address aviation noise once services begin to increase post COVID-19. ICCAN has called on the UK government to make managing aviation noise a key priority after the pandemic restrictions, when aviation levels begin to increase again. In a letter to Grant Shapps and Kelly Tolhurst, ICCAN’s Head Commissioner, Rob Light, argued that the unprecedented situation should be seen as a chance to rebuild the sector in a more “sustainable” way. This means on noise, as well as on carbon emissions. ICCAN believes that there must be a clear, consistent and transparent approach to noise mitigation and, therefore, the current ways of working must change. The dramatic cut in aircraft noise due to the pandemic is a unique opportunity to understand the impact of noise nuisance from planes. It is expected that when flights resume, aircraft noise will seem more noticeable, and will generate a significant negative reaction from local communities. This has to be taken seriously in future.
As aviation experiences an all-time low, ICCAN has proposed to use the unique opportunity to address aviation noise once services begin to increase post COVID-19.
https://iccan.gov.uk/ ICCAN Website
The UK’s Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has called on the UK government to make managing aviation noise a key priority in a post-COVID-19 environment, when aviation levels begin to recover and start to increase following the drastic decline in services as a result of the pandemic.
In a letter to Grant Shapps and Kelly Tolhurst – the UK’s Transport Secretary and Aviation Minister, respectively – ICCAN’s Head Commissioner, Rob Light, argued that the unprecedented situation the industry is currently experiencing should be seen as a chance to rebuild and regrow aviation in a more sustainable way.
Light said: “The decisions taken when rebuilding cannot be at any cost and this applies to the detrimental effects of noise on the public, as much as it does to climate change concerns.”
ICCAN believes that there must be a clear, consistent and transparent approach to noise mitigation and, as a result, the current ways of working must change. The advisory body is currently collecting and analysing data on aircraft movements, noise monitoring and attitudes around airports, as the drastic fall in aviation activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity to use data to understand the impact as such historic low levels of activity begin to increase.
Some communities living close to airports may currently be experiencing a period of respite due to quieter skies, but one of the expected consequences when aviation activity levels increase is that the noise will be more noticeable. Given the particular health impacts of noise on those communities, ICCAN believes that it is vital that noise management and mitigation is properly considered as activity levels begin to pick up.
In the letter, Light wrote: “When the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) published our first Corporate Strategy in the spring of 2019, we could scarcely have imagined the events to come and the impact COVID-19 would have on the aviation industry. I feel a great deal of empathy for the many thousands of people employed in the aviation industry and the uncertainty that lies ahead.”
The letter continued: “We see current events – and I write this with utmost sensitivity – as an opportunity for a re-think about the way aviation noise is considered when both strategic and operational decisions are taken about the future of aviation. In the understandable desire to rebuild aviation swiftly and efficiently, not being seen to prioritise aviation noise management is likely to generate a significant negative reaction from local communities. The public will need to trust that the rebuilding of the aviation industry – at whatever pace – is done in a sustainable way.”
It is highly significant that the government’s independent body looking into the problem of aircraft noise has said the previous study, SoNA, was inadequate. ICCAN declared the DfT’s evidential basis for assessing the noise impact of Heathrow expansion to have been “inappropriate” and did not properly reflect the numbers affected by plane noise, or the impacts. The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “And were expansion to proceed at Heathrow … a scandal would be in the making. When the DfT claimed that merely 97,300 more residents would be exposed to adverse aircraft noise, the Transport Select Committee concluded that the DfT’s methodology was “not of the real world”. Indeed, under a freedom of information request, we then learned that an internal DfT study had implied 2.2 million people would be affected – if the department had only applied the more realistic noise thresholds used elsewhere.”…”We remain startled that a government department, purportedly responsible for protecting communities from aviation noise, should plough on in this reckless – and perhaps deceitful – manner.”
One of the key surveys on attitudes to aircraft noise was the SoNA study, Survey of Noise Attitudes 2014, carried out by the CAA. The SoNA study found people were more annoyed by noise, and more sensitive to it, than another study in 1985. Some degree of annoyance and adverse effects were found down to 51dB LAeq 16hr. The conventional level of averaged noise considered a problem is 57 dB LAeq. But critics have said the study was flawed, as it only considered populations that had already experienced high levels of aviation noise, rather than communities that had been impacted for the first time, or had newly been exposed to a greater intensification of noise. With the expansion of aviation in the UK, there are many areas and hundreds of thousands of people, who are being newly exposed to plane noise. The noise body ICCAN has realised there is a problem with SoNA. It recommends that a new, regular attitudinal survey is begun before the end of 2021, and repeated frequently. And that “the new surveys should be commissioned, run and analysed independent of Government, regulators and industry. We consider it appropriate for ICCAN to take on this role, working closely with relevant stakeholders.”
Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected an application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights. The airport wants to increase the number of night flights to 4,000 throughout the whole year, starting in summer 2021. Currently the airport is allowed 3,000 night flights throughout the summer months and 1,000 in winter. The airport wants to be able to move some of their winter allocation to the summer, when demand is higher. Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected the application – stating it would have a negative impact on people living in towns near the airport. The request for more flights comes after the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport in March 2019. Then in March 2020 North Somerset Council threw out the plans, (which included increasing passenger numbers by an extra two million each year and building more car parks) on the grounds they were “incompatible” with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency. The extra night flights would cause noise nuisance to people in both councils.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected an application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights.
Bosses applied for ‘co-ordinated airport’ status which would allow them to move some of their winter allocation to the summer, when demand is higher.
They want to increase the number of night flights to 4,000 throughout the whole year, starting from Summer 2021.
Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected the application – stating it would have a negative impact on people living in towns near the airport.
The request for more flights comes after the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport in March 2019.
Then in March 2020 North Somerset Council threw out the plans, which included increasing passenger numbers by an extra two million each year and building more car parks.
The controversial proposals were rejected on the grounds they were “incompatible” with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.
Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency, said in a statement:”Even before coronavirus, increased awareness of the climate emergency looked set to influence travel behaviour and now the pandemic’s impact has made the future of the airline industry uncertain.
Therefore it seems highly unlikely that passenger increases projected by Bristol Airport to reach 12 million passengers per year will be met in 2020 or in the future. We do not believe that Bristol Airport should be permitted to increase its slot allocation on a year-round basis but should remain with its current summer and winter scheduling.
The disadvantages of more night flights would primarily be borne by Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset residents living in villages and towns close to the airport who would experience more airport traffic.
The other major issue is the increase in pollution and carbon emissions. Approval of this application would lead to the airport having a wider impact on our environment that outweighs any economic benefits.”
Councillor Warren also pointed out that more flights could mean more parking problems in towns and villages on the airport bus route.
These include Newbridge, Bath, Corston and Keynsham.
Bristol Airport opened a public consultation on its plans to change flight numbers in February 2020.
It was due to close in April, but has been extended due to the pandemic.
The only airports currently with ‘co-ordinated status’ in the UK are the London ones – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City and Luton – alongside Manchester and Birmingham.
North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee has gone against the advice of their own planning officers and have refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand. It has been a “David versus Goliath” battle of local campaigners against the airport, (owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The airport wanted to expand from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, with large carpark and other building. The opposition to the plans was huge, on ground of carbon emissions, as well as noise and general local damage. There were almost 9,000 objections sent in by members of the public, against 2,400 in favour. Councillors voted 18-7 against the plans, with one abstention. Councillors were persuaded that paltry economic benefits to the airport and airlines were far outweighed by the environmental harm. There would be large land take for the parking, and the extra carbon emissions would make targets of carbon neutrality for the area unachievable. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.
A decision on Bristol Airport’s major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport’s on-site infrastructure. A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment – there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support. Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise. When they declared a “climate emergency”, Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport’s expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit. The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved “access international export markets.” In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys. The application will be considered by North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.
Bristol Airport plans to significantly increase its passenger numbers, to grow eventually to 20 million passengers per year from a current level of 8.6 million. A group of environmental campaigners and local residents are raising money – through crowdfunding – to fund an important legal challenge to the airport’s planning application, that is being dealt with by North Somerset Council. The group hopes to employ a well respected barrister, Estelle Dehon, who is expert in environment and planning law (with particular expertise in climate change matters). She would be able to legally analyse the 400 plus planning documents on the application, on the Council’s planning website, and offer campaigners and the committee expert evidence for refusal. Estelle has previously worked on the Plan B fight against Heathrow’s third runway. The coming decade is absolutely critical in averting the climate crisis that is upon us. Yet, that same decade is to be used by Bristol Airport to increase the carbon emissions of flights using the airport, by over 500,000 tonnes per year. In addition to the carbon issue, many people in Bristol would be exposed to a range of air pollution substances, including NO2 and black carbon – as well as increased noise nuisance.
Bristol Airport is hoping to expand. There is a consultation that started on 19th December, and ends on 26th January, on their plans. Details can be found here. The headline application issue is a 50% growth in passengers – from the current 8.2 million per year, to 12 million by the mid 2020’s. Carbon emissions from flights are estimated to rise by 73% from 746 ktCO2 in 2017 to 1,290 ktCO2 with 12 million passengers. The increase in passengers will be achieved by de-restricting night flights up to 4,000 per year, expanding car parks, changing road lay outs, and building a multi-storey car park (persuasively capped with some wind turbines). There are further plans to raise passenger numbers to 20 million by 2040. There is a lot of local opposition, focused on issues such as congested roads, ‘parking blights’ (cars parked in lanes etc), other local environmental impacts, noise pollution – through the night and day. There are some minimal hyper-localised ‘Noise Insulation Grants’ (up to £5000 for glazing). The airport plans to get more income in from cafes, shops and car parking, to boost profits. Bristol Airport is entirely owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – it is not British owned at all.
Since 6th April, Heathrow has been operating using only one runway, in mixed mode, as a result of significantly reduced flight numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixed mode means landings and take-offs can take place on the same runway. At the moment this will be alternated each week, starting on a Monday. It is looking increasingly unlikely Heathrow will get a 3rd runway, due to the judgement of the Appeal Court, and now Covid. But if it does not get its 3rd runway, it is likely they will be looking to be allowed some form of expansion in its “two-runway strategy” that it is expected to launch in due course. This could take the form of increasing the annual cap on flight numbers from its current threshold of 480,000, to a new figure, over 550,000. That is 70,000 more flights per year, or about 190 more per day, using mixed mode. That means a lot more noise nuisance for thousands.The change would need a public inquiry, and would be politically toxic in areas affected negatively by Heathrow. It could bring misery to the 725,000 people already blighted by aircraft noise. Mixed mode means Heathrow expansion through the back door and it should be opposed.
29.4.2020 (No 3rd Runway Coalition blog)
Since 6th April, Heathrow has been operating using only one runway, in mixed mode, as a result of significantly reduced flight numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixed mode means landings and take-offs can take place on the same runway. At the moment this will be alternated each week, starting on a Monday.
The mixed mode operations will be in both directions which means those who live close to the northern runway or under its flightpath will experience both landing and take-off noise. The latter will be most intrusive as due to the long-established Cranford Agreement take-offs have not previously been permissible.
Campaigners are concerned that the use of mixed mode during the pandemic may in fact pave the way for how Heathrow might seek to operate its airport in the future.
There are two main reasons why these concerns are not unfounded. First, Heathrow expansion is looking less, not more likely, as a result of the Court of Appeal’s ruling in February. The ruling stated that the Government had not considered legally binding climate change targets when presenting the Airports National Policy Statement to Parliament. Heathrow have sought leave to appeal this ruling, but the Supreme Court is yet to state whether they will grant an appeal.
Second, if Heathrow does not get its third runway, it is likely they will be looking for a some form of expansion in its “two-runway strategy” that it is expected to launch in due course. This could take the form of increasing the annual cap on flight numbers from its current threshold of 480,000, to a new figure, over 550,000. This would be possible if the airport were to operate using mixed mode. For communities around the airport this would mean either a significant reduction or an end to the current alternation which provides half a day’s break from aircraft noise.
When Heathrow were seeking to introduce mixed mode in the 2000s, it was estimated that flight numbers could increase to 540,000 per year. Improvements in aircraft technology since then could enable that figure to increase further. Heathrow is currently operating using 98% of the current threshold – 476,000 flights each year, so mixed mode could increase the number of flights at Heathrow by a minimum of 75,000 every year.
There would likely be a public inquiry on whether to allow mixed mode, as the local planning authority – Hillingdon Council – will oppose any increase in the number of flights per year at the airport. It is not certain whether the Government would support any application for an increase in flights in this way: they could suggest it is a ‘compromise’ if it rules out a third runway. This would, of course, be politically toxic in the areas around Heathrow and under its flight paths, as many hundreds of thousands of people rely substantially on the current half day’s break from aircraft noise.
Nevertheless, the scale of any proposal for mixed mode operations would be clear: at least 200 more flights every day at Heathrow. Such an uplift would present a neat consolation prize for Heathrow if they cannot get a third runway, but would bring misery to the 725,000 people already blighted by aircraft noise. Mixed mode means Heathrow expansion through the back door and it should be opposed.
Co-Ordinator, No Third Runway Coalition
London City Airport has dropped its controversial plans to get rid of the 24 hour weekend break from the planes (Sat 12.30pm to Sun 12.30pm), and also to operate more early morning and late evening flights. It told its Consultative Committee on 6th March that it would not be proceeding with these two key proposals it had outlined in its draft Master Plan which it consulted in earlier this year. Campaigners have worked very hard for this, and are delighted. The airport may still want ultimately to seek to lift the current annual cap on flight numbers, the other main proposal outlined in the draft Master Plan, but did not expect to do so any time soon. London City intends to publish its final Master Plan before the end of the month but has no immediate plans to put in a planning application for more flights. London City’s expansion plans had generated record levels of opposition from local authorities and communities impacted by the airport. The Mayor of London also came out in opposition. London City also told the Consultative Committee that it is continuing the process of reviewing its controversial flight paths as part of the wider airspace changes across London and the SE over the coming years.
London City Airport told its Consultative Committee this week that it will drop the proposals that were in its draft Master Plan to end the 24 hour weekend break (no planes between 12.30pm Saturday – 12.30pm Sunday) and those to bring in more early morning and late evening flights. It looks as if it will postpone submitting a planning application to lift the cap on the number of flights allowed to use the airport each year.
Full details will emerge when it publishes its final Master Plan later this month.
Many local campaigners put so much time, effort and indeed money into campaigning against the expansion proposals. The Hacan East campaign will, of course, continue until all the expansion proposals are off the agenda.
Review of Concentrated Flight Paths
London City also told the Consultative Committee that it is continuing the process of reviewing its controversial flight paths as part of the wider airspace changes that will be coming in at all airports in London and the SE over the coming years.
As part of the review London City will be looking at the option of multiple flights paths so that all the flights do not go over the same communities all the time. We should know more about its thinking later this year, with full public consultation to follow next year.
The London City Airport MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION.
HACAN East’s postcard campaign got people to sign up to agree:
I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban.
I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights.
I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights.
I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion.
Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously. The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel – not business – and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year. The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of “net zero emissions by 2050 “does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.
The Mayor Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has sent a letter to the London City Airport consultation, to express his concerns about the airport’s expansion plans. This is in addition to the more detailed response sent by the council itself. Mr Biggs says: …”the negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from aircraft needs to be tightly regulated and we believe lower thresholds for disturbance need to put in place. … To protect residents from noise disruption LCA must retain the current 24 hour closure of the airport at weekends between 12.30pm Saturday – 12.30pm Sunday to provide respite for our residents from the noise. To limit the level of disturbance caused to our residents the restrictions on early morning, late night and weekend flights should also be retained, …In Tower Hamlets we have declared a climate emergency and 40% of our residents live in areas with unacceptable levels of air quality. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions from airport operations.” See the full letter.
As part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, as well as in around 60 cities around the world, London City Airport was a target for action. The intention to disrupt the airport, the plans were announced well beforehand. Many XR people got into the airport, causing disruption in a non-violent manner. A smartly dressed man, who had bought a flight ticket for an Aer Lingus flight, got onto his plane and then refused to sit down. He “walked down the aisle, delivering a lecture on climate change”; this caused about two hours delay to the flight. Another, a Paralympic cycling medallist James Brown, who is visually impaired, also had a ticket for an Amsterdam flights, but when approaching the plane door, instead climbed onto the roof of the BA plane About 50 arrests were made at the airport, including those who had blocking the airport entrance or glued themselves to the terminal floor. There were delays to some flights. The airport was chosen for the action because of the glaring incompatibility of the government’s legally-binding commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050, with expanding the aviation sector. Many of the flights from London City are leisure, (skiing, city breaks, beach holidays, etc) not for business.
Redbridge Councillors have agreed to oppose (43 : 10) London City Airport’s expansion plans and express serious concern about the “detrimental effect” of noise and air pollution on the health and wellbeing of Redbridge residents. Proposing the motion, Councillor Sheila Bain and Councillor John Howard spoke about the “profound noise and environmental impact” the proposals will have on residents, particularly those living directly under the flight paths. The motion also asked councillors to note a lack of evidence to support the claims that noise pollution, air quality and emissions will not be affected and the lack of adequate consultation by London City Airport with residents affected by the proposals, most of whom are unaware of the consultation taking place. Councillor Paul Donovan said: “City Airport needs to think again, listen to what people are saying and realise that whilst they may need to make more money, that the environment, health and welfare of those of us living below these flight paths is more important.”
Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport’s consultation on expansion with more daily flights – until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport’s Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation “fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information” in a letter to the airport’s chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the “omitted technical details”. “The significance of the mayor’s move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport,” said Hacan East chairman John Stewart. Newham Council which declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport’s plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth – pollution from aircraft – would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.
HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City’s expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City. HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say: I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban. I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights. I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion. Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.
Gatwick airport intends to expand its number of flights and air passengers, both by increasing numbers on its current runway, and then also by moving its emergency runway slightly north by a few metres, so it can take more flights. The change of the emergency runway would require a Development Consent Order (DCO) as there would be more than 10 million annual passengers, and building work is needed. The increased use of the main runway could add another 15 million annual passengers, which should necessitate going through the DCO process, but as almost no building work is needed, Gatwick is aiming to by-pass this, and make the increases just through permitted development rights. The joint campaign coalition, “Gatwick’s Big Enough” (GBE) wrote to the councils in areas affected by Gatwick on this matter. They have received a reply, that the councils believe there is little they can do about the expansion on the main runway, as there are no mechanisms under current planning law to require the airport to submit a planning application. GBE is taking legal advice on the matter. The Appeal Court ruling on the Heathrow runway and ANPS, about the need to take carbon emissions into account, may be helpful here.
Last year the GBE campaign, which GACC leads, wrote to all the county and district /town councils around the airport asking them to put in place arrangements to ensure all Gatwick’s growth was robustly scrutinised, consulted on and subject to planning consent.
Proposed growth deriving from potential use of Gatwick’s emergency runway will be subject to a planning process known as a Development Consent Order(DCO), but that the larger
share of proposed growth, deriving from more intensive use of the current main runway, is not currently subject to any planning approval.
We believe this is wrong in principle and against government policy (and we have written separately to the government on it).
On 31st January we received this letter GBE Joint LA Ldr final letter jan 2020 from some of the councils closest to the airport. Essentially their view is that, however desirable planning consent for main runway growth might be, councils have no mechanisms under current planning law to require it. (See below).
They argue that alternative agreements between the airport and councils provide a degree of control over the impacts of growth.
We are considering the councils’ response and continuing to engage with them. We strongly disagree that the alternative arrangements currently in place provide effective control: in our view they are feeble.
We will report further on this in due course.
More encouragingly other councils have taken a more robust view on Gatwick growth and we are engaging with them too.
And some news from government:
Kelly Tolhurst MP has been appointed Aviation Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) at the DfT. She is the 6th Aviation minister in 3 years – they don’t last long !
The letter from the councils:
“We have carefully investigated the various points made in your letter and write to provide our conclusions. In summary, the increase in passenger numbers from 46 million per annum to 61 million per annum in the absence of the proposed DCO authorising the use of the Northern Runway does not constitute a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 nor is it development requiring planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.”
“Your suggested actions
We note that the annex to your letter includes a number of suggested actions that you would like the Authorities to undertake. We address each of these in turn.
1. “Request the Secretary of State to ensure that his policy […] is fully delivered” – The government’s policy needs to be viewed in the context of the Planning Act 2008 which sets out the legal framework for determining whether development is an NSIP. As set out above, the Authorities do not consider that GAL’s proposals to increase passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa satisfy the statutory requirements for an NSIP.
2. “Invite the SoS to direct that the project be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008” – While the Authorities acknowledge the national significance of the airport, they do not currently consider that the increase in passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa (or the physical works proposed by GAL in connection with this increase) constitutes development which should be subject to a section 35 order. The increase in passenger numbers is largely to be achieved through operational changes which do not constitute “development” for the purposes of the Planning Act 2008. In any event, under section 35ZA of the Planning Act 2008, it is not for the Authorities to make such an application. It is for the Authorities, and for Crawley Borough Council in particular, to monitor that development is carried out in accordance the various planning legislation. If we consider that any development is not being carried out in accordance with the legislation, it is open to Crawley Borough Council to take enforcement action.
3. “Investigate whether the main runway growth will require “alterations that would bring it within the scope of the 2008 Act” – The Authorities expect GAL to provide as part of the DCO application process a robust justification for how it will increase its passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa – in other words, a clear and detailed justification of how the operational changes will have that effect and why the proposed development will not will be required. If this is not provided then the Authorities will raise this with GAL and the Secretary of State, as we did in responding to the Scoping Report. The Authorities will be interrogating GAL’s evidence on this. Furthermore, going forward Crawley Borough Council will also carefully scrutinise on a case-by-case basis any proposals to use permitted development rights to establish whether they fall within the scope of section 23.
4. “Review whether the main runway project is a material change of use requiring planning permission under sections 55 and 57 of the Planning Act 1990” – The Authorities do not consider the increase in passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa to constitute a material change of use requiring planning permission under the 1990 Act.
5. “Terminate the current Section 106 agreement with Gatwick and negotiate a new agreement incorporating a cap” – The Authorities cannot compel GAL to enter into a new agreement incorporating a cap at the current time and there is clearly no commercial incentive on GAL to agree to such a cap. However, the Authorities will seek to negotiate a section 106 agreement as part of the DCO process and this may include reference to caps and other control measures on the number of passengers, flights or runways, linked to the capacity and likely significant environmental effects assessed as part of the EIA for the DCO.
Theresa Villiers – Secretary of State for Environment until a fortnight ago, when Boris had her moved – has spoken out against the Heathrow runway plan. She said the government should cancel it, as it risks worsening air quality and increasing noise pollution for thousands. Heathrow and its backers had failed to present a “convincing” enough case for the runway to go ahead. The judgement at the Court of Appeal will be handed down on 27th February, on the legal challenges against the government for its incorrect backing of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). The DfT had failed to properly consider the impact of Heathrow expansion on the the UK’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050, and its Paris Agreement obligations. One of the legal challenges is by Friends of the Earth, who have suggested this legal ruling could be the most important environmental law case in the UK for over a generation. Boris Johnson is aware that Heathrow cannot meet a range of conditions, on noise, air pollution, cost or carbon. Adam Afriyie, the Conservative MP for Windsor, said the runway scheme should be scrapped as it was “completely incompatible” with the UK’s legally-binding climate target.
Ex-Tory minister urges government to ‘think again’ over go-ahead for third runway
By Ashley Cowburn, Political Correspondent @ashcowburn (Independent)
26th February 2020
Boris Johnson’s government should cancel Heathrow airport expansion as it risks worsening air quality and increasing noise pollution for thousands, the former environment secretary has warned.
Theresa Villiers – a cabinet minister until a fortnight ago – told The Independent that supporters of the multi-billion pound third runway at the west London airport have failed to present a “convincing” enough case for it to go ahead. [She was Sec of State for Environment from July 2019 to 13th Feb 2020 ]
Her remarks come ahead of a critical ruling on the project tomorrow at the Court of Appeal, with anti-Heathrow activists arguing the government has failed to properly consider the impact on the climate.
The environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth have suggested it could be the most important environmental law case in this country for over a generation.
Asked whether Mr Johnson should cancel the expansion, Ms Villiers said: “I’ve made no secret of the fact I would like to see alternatives pursued.
“I think a new runway at Gatwick would have far less of an environmental impact. So yes, I hope the government will think again about Heathrow expansion. I don’t think it is the right way to address capacity needs in the aviation sector.”
Adam Afriyie, the Conservative MP for Windsor, also told The Independent the scheme should be scrapped and said it was “completely incompatible” with the legally-binding target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“With 100 per cent certainty, it would be the right move to make in our national, regional, economic interests and also the interests of Brexit where we want to be competitive with the rest of the world,” he said.
Expansion of the west London airport was given the green light by MPs in 2018 when Theresa May’s administration brought the issue to a vote. But ahead of the parliamentary recess, Mr Johnson, who vowed in 2015 to lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent building work on a third runway, sparked speculation the scheme could be scrapped.
When quizzed on whether he would “make good” on his promise to his constituents, the prime minister told MPs: “I see no bulldozers at present, nor any immediate prospect of them arriving”.
During the reshuffle, Mr Johnson reappointed Zac Goldsmith as an environment minister, who had previously described Heathrow expansion as the “most polluting, most disruptive, most expensive option”.
Conservative MP Greg Hands was also brought back into the government’s ranks as a minister, after resigning in 2018 over a promise to his constituents that he would vote against the airport’s expansion.
Ms Villiers, who was sacked by the prime minister as environment secretary two weeks’ ago, said she had been a “long opponent” of Heathrow.
She added: “Now I’m out of government, I suppose I would particularly highlight my continuing concerns about air quality and there are some really tough challenges in terms of meeting the binding targets we’re subject to on roadside emissions. We are making some real progress on that but I’m concerned that a third runway may make the local situation in relation to air quality considerably worse – not just because of the additional flights but of course the huge potential increase in car journeys.
“I can’t see that Heathrow airport have got a convincing plan that will generate the very major shift onto public transport that they will need to do if they are to have any chance of meeting commitments on air quality.
Heathrow expansion will wreck vows to ‘level up’ UK, economists warn
“It [Heathrow expansion] will subject hundreds of thousands more people to excessive levels of noise. Heathrow is the largest noise emitter in Europe – a third runway will make it considerably worse.”
Asked about Mr Johnson’s recent remarks in the Commons, she said: “The prime minister is well aware of the significant potential environmental impact. He’s set the challenge to the promoters of the scheme to meet those environmental pre-conditions and no doubt the Court of Appeal will be considering those in their judgement tomorrow.”
On Wednesday, the chief executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, warned that unless a third runway is built then more passengers and exporters will be forced to use Charles de Gaulle airport in Pairs.
“There’s no global Britain without Heathrow expansion,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. “If we don’t expand our only hub airport, then we’re going to be flying through Paris to get to global markets.
“Our exports will have to go through Paris to get all around the world. We’ll be signing trade deals with India and China and telling them that they can fly through Charles de Gaulle to get to the UK.”
HEATHROW COURT RULING on Thursday 27th February 2020
With the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the legal challenge to the previous Government’s plans for Heathrow expansion, campaigners say that whatever the judge’s verdict, the prospects for the project are fast diminishing.
Parties involved in the action are:
Ahead of the ruling, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“Whatever the Court of Appeal’s view about the last government’s procedures in determining its pro-expansion position, prospects for the project are fast diminishing.
“With government advisers now saying it will mean restrictions on aviation in the regions and that the project’s noise assessments were problematic, the fundamentals have changed. Just as earlier promises have been revealed as misleading, with construction to take 30 years rather than 5, the £14bn budget more than doubling and the CAA having to reprimand the airport for trying to quadruple the pre-application costs presented to MPs.
“So, we’re reaching the point where support for Heathrow expansion needs to be revisited, if not withdrawn altogether.”
The Court of Appeal will deliver its judgment on Thursday 27th February at 10am (1 & 2).
Parties involved in the action, politicians from all parties and campaigners will gather outside the High Court (Strand, London) from 9am on Thursday for an event supporting those taking action and calling for the Government to now drop Heathrow expansion (3). Politicians include Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party.
In recognition of the high-profile nature of the case, the judgment will be live-streamed (4).
For more information, contact:
The CAA have published the results of a post-implementation review (PIR), which analysed the impact of RNAV between its introduction in 2015 and 2017. RNAV means concentration of planes down a narrow flight path, intensifying noise for those over-flown. The CAA concluded that the airspace change “achieved the objectives set out in the original proposal”.The introduction of RNAV has meant the majority of departures have moved closer to Harpenden, south Harpenden and the less densely-populated areas of Redbourn, while still not to flying directly over those areas. The number of flights increased by 30% between 2015 and 2017, but the PIR says the flight paths was not an “enabler” for an increase in airport capacity, or for an increase in flights during the early morning and late evenings. The CAA says the increase in noise complaints 2015 – 2017 was due to there being more planes – not the narrowing of the flight paths. Local campaigners are angry and disagree with the CAA, saying much of the noise nuisance is due to RNAV, not just more flights. Andrew Lambourne (LADACAN) commented: “The whole thing feels like a rubber-stamping exercise, and was not worth waiting three years for.”
See a detailed explanation of what has been going on – below.
The CAA have published the results of a post-implementation review (PIR), which analysed the impact of the first RNAV concentrated flight route at Luton Airport. The system was introduced in 2015 but technical issues with Boeing aircraft not being able to engage with its first technically challenging waypoint meant the assessment did not start until 2017. By that time there had been a substantial rise in complaints – but also, due to financially incentivised growth at Luton, a substantial rise in aircraft movements as well.
Concentrated tracks may or may not deliver benefit to people on the ground. If they enable aircraft consistently to avoid communities and fly instead over non-noise sensitive areas, they can be a good. But if they avoid (naturally noisier) towns in order to fly over (naturally quieter) rural villages, they can be a curse for the fewer to benefit the many – but the many may mainly benefit at night when the town is also quieter.
The potential worst of all worlds can occur if the concentrated track threads between tightly spaced communities – say half a mile apart. At altitudes of around 5-6,000ft a concentrated swathe may well sideways-radiate noise into the communities (see CAA’s CAP 1498) even if they are not directly overflown.
In the case of the Luton implementation of RNAV, the airport operators led communities to expect noise reduction flowing from a significant reduction in overflying: 30,000 overflown would, they said, reduce to 3,000. For those not versed in all the technicalities, this seemed a reasonable deal. Furthermore, said the airport, the centre line would move a little south of its existing position south of Harpenden, so that planes turning the corner would be more likely to be able to follow it. Again, sounds like a good deal.
The paradox was that most of the planes missed the original centre line by a significant distance (in some cases a literal mile) and so when the RNAV waypoint and the reduction in speed enticed them back onto the new centre line, a whole load of aircraft moved north, and because audible and visible in south Harpenden whereas previously they had visited the sky over north Hemel Hempstead. So, not such a good experience as folk had been led to believe.
By way of second whammy, it turned out that NATS air traffic controllers were and still are still “vectoring” a proportion of the flights directly over Harpenden and St Albans, hence the claim of massive reductions of people overflown rings hollow – and of course there is no real definition of how many flights a day have to come directly over your house for you to count (to an Airport or the CAA) as being overflown.
And by way of third whammy, those planes that stay in the swathe then thread through that narrow 1km gap between Harpenden and St Albans. People on the fringes of both communities now probably perceive all of them since the swathe is not by any means pencil-thin but wobbles around due to the wind (we are told) and covers more than the 2km maximum which was promised. Previously, the greater spread may well have resulted in people only being aware of say half the passing flights, some of which would have been directly overhead and say 3dB louder, others to the side and slightly quieter, others in the distance and not a problem. This is the whole “concentration” issue: the experience of each aircraft transit is broadly the same – great if you are nowhere near them, maddening if you are.
Finally, Sandridge is now directly overflown by the centre line. The Airport had tried to create a baseline noise measure before RNAV but its monitoring was somehow faulty and it ended up with a noise sample histogram where the quieter half of the readings were entirely missed off. Ergo, the baseline was an average of the noisier flights only, hence high. And hence when the Airport measured again in 2017 and this time did not miss off the quieter flights, magically the noise averages came down and the CAA fell for this and did not question the dodgy histogram, and declared that noise in Sandridge had not increased. In doing so it ignored completely the question of concentration – which does not say much for the CAA PIR team’s understanding of aircraft noise impact.
So overall the CAA rubber-stamped the implementation, while drawing attention to the continued vectoring and the failure to constrain to the promised 2km swathe. Campaign groups who spent 3 years waiting for this review feel that the CAA has dodged the harder questions raised above completely, and has fallen for a crass error in a noise monitoring exercise which even a GCSE student could have spotted.
10 February 2020
By Anne Suslak (The Herts Advertiser)
A survey into Luton Airport’s flight paths has found they met their objectives in mitigating the impact on St Albans district – despite opposition from noise campaign groups.
The RNAV GPS navigation system was introduced in 2015 and narrowed flight paths, which anti-noise campaigners said simply concentrated noise pollution from flights over a smaller area.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have published the results of a post-implementation review (PIR), which analysed the impact of RNAV between its introduction and 2017.
The report concluded that the airspace change achieved the objectives set out in the original proposal.
A CAA spokesperson said: “The purpose of a Post Implementation Review is for the CAA, as the independent regulator, to assess whether the change has delivered the anticipated impacts and benefits set out in the original airspace change proposal and decision, and if not, to ascertain why and determine the most appropriate course of action.
“It is not a review of the decision itself, and neither is it a re-run of the original decision process.”
The report found that the introduction of RNAV reduced planes directly flying over Redbourn, Hemel Hempstead and the southern areas of St Albans. As a consequence, however, the CAA found that the majority of departures had moved closer to Harpenden, south Harpenden and the less densely-populated areas of Redbourn, while still managing not to fly directly over those areas.
Aircraft movements increased by 30% between 2015 and 2017, but the report claimed changing the flight paths was not an “enabler” for an increase in airport capacity, or for an increase in flights during the early morning and late evenings.
Therefore the report claimed the increase in noise complaints during that period was due to an increase in air traffic – implemented by the airport and its parent company London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) – not the narrowing of the flight paths.
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has slammed the CAA report as “passing the buck” by laying the blame of aircraft noise elsewhere.
She said: “This report is a blatant attempt to pass the buck as residents are being left to suffer as different authorities play the blame game.
“The CAA is taking the stance that they are responsible for the routes, not how many aircraft use the routes, which is a planning matter for Luton Borough Council and government policy.
“I have secured a meeting with the aviation minister and we will be raising our concerns in the strongest possible terms.”
Anti-noise campaigners have also criticised the report for blaming the rise in complaints on an increase in flights, without acknowledging their belief that concentrating the flight paths exacerbated the problem.
John Hale, of St Albans Quieter Skies, said: “We are very disappointed by the CAA report. By blaming the increase in complaints just on the increase in flights, it ignores the fact that concentration makes people aware of many more aircraft, even though less may be going directly overhead. They’ve chosen the easy option to avoid looking into the real issue of whether concentration is a good thing or not.
“The CAA has also sidestepped the question about whether flights from London Luton Airport have more adversely impacted our communities since the introduction of RNAV.
“The report focuses only on the technicalities, and does not test all the claims by the airport about the noise reductions which would result from its introduction.
“Given the overall bad experience of the last four years, proposed additional expansion of the airport will just further damage our environment.”
The CAA acknowledged that aircraft are still being dispersed over St Albans and south Harpenden, and reported a large reduction in noise over Sandridge – the accuracy of which has been disputed by campaigners.
Andrew Lambourne, of campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), said: “The assessment conveniently ignores the CAA’s own guidance for what counts as an overflight: when an aircraft passes close by it is about as noisy as when it is directly overhead, making concentrated tracks close to communities a menace.
“The CAA has dodged all the difficult issues we raised with them in 2017.
“The whole thing feels like a rubber-stamping exercise, and was not worth waiting three years for,” he added.