Below are links to stories about noise in relation to airports and aviation.
Gatwick campaigners dismayed by government’s failure to limit night flights
The Department for Transport has published its decision document on the first part of its recent consultation on night flights at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) is dismayed that although numerous responses to the consultation showed strong and wide opposition to night flights at Gatwick and elsewhere, the Government has decided to extend current night flight numbers and noise limits for a further three years. DfT’s decision is a kick in the teeth for all those negatively affected by the noise and disturbance caused by aircraft flying at night. It entirely ignores the views of local communities, and groups representing them - and the negative effects on health caused by sleep disturbance. GACC had called on the government to ban all commercial night flights at all UK airports for a full 8-hour period each night. GACC also argued that any flights allowed should be far more strictly regulated. Unfortunately the government has not taken the opportunity, to make positive changes after the Covid hiatus. GACC says: "Instead the DfT continues to neglect its regulatory responsibilities and to see its role as serving the interests of the industry, not overflown communities.”
DfT decides to roll over the night flights regime for 3 more years (not 2) for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted
The government consulted, in December 2020, on its night flights regime (closed 3rd March 2021). Part of the consultation was whether to "roll over" the current regime for the three designated airports, (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) for another 3 years, and it closed on 3rd March 2021. The second part is about wider night flights issues for all issues, and that closes on 3rd September 2021. The DfT has now published its "Decision Document" on the night flights regime and the designated airports. It has decided - despite pleas from numerous groups and individuals for change - not only to roll over the existing scheme, but to set this for THREE years more, rather than the two years originally proposed. The DfT says: "The restrictions will be reassessed in time for a new regime to commence in October 2025..." Airport groups at the designated airports are upset and furious. Night flight noise is probably the most hated, and the most damaging element of aircraft noise. The justifications given for night flights, about their economic necessity, are unconvincing. Sadly, people living with night flight noise from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be stuck with the problem, at least until 2025
Bristol Airport expansion (for 2 mppa more) public inquiry to will start on July 20th, for 10 weeks
The expansion plans would see passenger numbers grow from 10 million to 12 million a year. The public inquiry into the expansion plans is due to start on July 20 and last 10 weeks. The airport appealed against a decision by North Somerset Council last year to reject its expansion plans. Bristol City Council has also opposed the expansion with North Somerset Council saying it will ‘robustly defend’ the appeal. The inquiry will be held in person and online, via Teams, though requests had been made for it to be online only, due to Covid. Campaigners say any expansion of the airport would lead to higher carbon emissions, congested roads and more plane noise. A number of campaign groups including the Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) , the Parish Councils Airport Association and Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) are all set to give evidence at the inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate team will be led by Philip Ware.
Virgin Atlantic looking at ‘flying taxi’ partnership for VTOL vehicles for transport to large airports
Virgin Atlantic is exploring whether it could launch a flying taxi VTOL service as part of a partnership with Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace. Virgin suggests electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL) could fly from towns like Cambridge to major airports, such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester - to save passengers the bother of getting there by surface transport. Vertical Aerospace is conducting test flights of its aircraft this year, but it can see challenges ahead. The proposed VA-X4 aircraft will be able to carry 4 passengers and a pilot up to 100 miles. They claim they will be low carbon (depending on the electricity used) and not too noisy - or at least, less noisy than a helicopter. They say it will be "near silent" when cruising though the "rotors and wings would still make noise in forward flight". Vertical Aerospace has already partnered with American Airlines and Avolon, an aircraft-leasing company. These would not be mini air taxis to ferry passengers from one skyscraper to another, which would require new air-traffic control technology, public acceptance of the noise and safety aspects of more aircraft in cities, and regulatory change - which could be years away.
New study shows exposure to plane noise at night causes vascular endothelial dysfunction, hence cardiovascular disease
A new study shows exposure to plane noise at night causes higher circulating levels of stress hormones eg. adrenaline, stiffened blood vessels, and these caused vascular endothelial dysfunction. These increase the chance of atherosclerosis leading to cardiovascular events. The scientists said: "In addition to being associated with an increased incidence of coronary heart disease, noise may serve as an acute trigger of cardiovascular problems. For example, a study published earlier this year established that for nighttime deaths, noise exposure levels two hours preceding death were significantly associated with heart-related mortality." And "Importantly, comparing participants exposed to 30 versus 60 aircraft noise events per night revealed a dose-dependent worsening of endothelial function. Moreover, previous exposure to 30 aircraft noise events caused 60 events to have larger adverse effects on endothelial function. Thus, rather than any sort of habituation to the noise, there appeared to be a priming effect: prior exposure amplified the negative effect of noise on endothelial function."
Sir David Amess (Southend West MP) in plea to Southend Council to get night flights scrapped
Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, has said that night flights at Southend Airport must be scrapped, as residents continue to battle sleepless nights. He has written to Southend Council leader Ian Gilbert pleading for his support in getting them banned, for the sake of residents. The Amazon cargo night flights have been the topic of heated debate since they launched in October 2019. The airport has permission for 120 night flights per month, but insists the number of flights is regularly much lower. Council bosses have admitted it would be “very difficult” to get the flights scrapped, as the airport is acting inside their targets, and and are not breaking the law. The only way to get the night flights stopped is to have the quota removed from the Airport’s Section 106 Licence Agreement, from the council. The airport is desperate to make some money, due to the pandemic, and would not willingly give up night flights, which provide some income. This is especially frustrating, when there are very few daytime flights, and many of the cargo planes are old and noisier than more modern planes. There were actually 127 night flights departing the airport in March 2020, compared to just 78 last month.
Southend Airport to pay out £86k due to runway extension noise, under the Land Compensation Act
A court has ordered that Southend Airport should pay a total of £86,500 in compensation to owners of 9 neighbouring homes who say their values were diminished by noise, following the extension of the runway. in 2012 In its ruling, the Upper Tribunal’s Lands Chamber ordered that payments ranging from £4,000 to £17,000 be made in respect of the 9 homes, while a claim for a 10th property was dismissed. The claims for compensation are under the Land Compensation Act 1973. There is more noise, as larger planes land and take off from the airport. The longer runway enabling the airport to “attract low-cost commercial airlines operating much larger aircraft than had previously flown from it”. The Tribunal agreed that the extra noise had meant depreciation in the value of most of the lead properties. In 2013, the value of the lead properties ranged from £150,000 to £280,000, and the claimants sought compensation of between £32,200 and £60,100. The Land Compensation Act says it applies to cases where there have been alterations to runways or aprons. ie. something physical has been built (not buildings).
Campaign groups call for ban on Gatwick Airport night flights
Both community groups at Gatwick, GACC and CAGNE, are calling for a ban on night flights from Gatwick. “If night flights continue to be allowed, GACC argues they should be limited to those that are genuinely essential for economic reasons, not leisure flights, and that they should be far more strictly regulated.” Successive governments have acknowledged that noise from aircraft at night has significant health, economic and other impacts on communities near airports and under flight paths, and have asserted that they take this very seriously. But there has been no bottom-up review of the UK's night flight regime since 2006. Instead, the government has repeatedly rolled forward night flight limits set many years ago, without any re-examination of what we believe are the very limited economic benefits, whilst failing to take account of the increasingly strong evidence of the adverse physical and mental health impacts night flights have on communities. There is no reason to continue to operate services at night when there is ample capacity at times of day that have less serious health and community impacts. The first part of the DfT consultation on night flights ended on 3rd March; the second part ends on 31st May.
DfT spending £5.5 million on airspace change, to “drive improvements to UK’s ‘motorways in the sky’”
There is much talk, in the DfT and the CAA about "modernising airspace". The main aim is to make it easier for more aircraft to use UK airspace safely. It means more planes flying along exactly the same route - which the DfT refers to as "motorways in the sky." The industry would also like to get the amount of noise nuisance from aviation to be as low as is possible with ever more planes. There has never been any satisfactory solution to whether to fly most planes over fewer routes (concentrated routes) or to fly planes on more routes. So the choice is affecting a smaller number of people very severely, or a larger number less badly. There has never been decision on the alternatives. The concept of "respite" is popular with some - so more planes fly a certain route part of the time, giving those under another route some rest from the noise - then switching the two. Now the DfT has announced it is spending £5.5 million will (in the greenwash) "support airports to develop and evaluate design options aimed at making journeys quicker, quieter and cleaner." It will "deliver for all the UK." And help the sector to "build back better." ... The main aim is to fit in more flights, and ensure planes do not stack on their arrival at an airport.
MSP Gil Paterson writes to Scottish Government, to get noise help for those overflown by Glasgow planes
Aircraft at Glasgow airport fly over some districts at little more than 400ft and yet Glasgow Airport, whose attitude towards its disadvantaged communities has been notoriously bad, refuses to provide them with proper sound insulation - which is all they have been asking for. Now an MSP, Gil Patterson, has done a survey of the noise nuisance suffered. This shows a considerable % of those polled were "moderately, badly or severely" affected by the noise, both daytime and night. There are well established negative impacts of noise on health. Gil has written to the Scottish Government, asking for help for those suffering so much aircraft noise. He says: "Before the pandemic I was engaged with Glasgow Airport, West Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government putting together a noise insulation package for residents in the 63 dB area, but things have been very slow to materialise and to be honest the 63 dB contour area is much too narrow to resolve the impact of noise on human health." ..."Whilst I accept that air transport powers are limited to the Scottish Parliament as part of our Government’s commitment to eradicating inequalities and our anti-poverty policies, we must use all the levers available to resolve this appalling situation being experienced by my constituents who live under the flight path."