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New maps depict night noise at England’s busiest airports but mandatory limits still lacking

December 19, 2007

Defra has published maps showing noise contours around 18 airports in England. These are given both for Lden (average noise level over a 24-hour period: day, evening and night), and Lnight (average night-time level). Shoreham had no night time activities in 2006, so has only an Lden map.

Lden and Lnight are measures demanded by the European Environmental Noise Directive (END), which now requires member states to make ‘strategic noise maps’ around major roads, railways and airports. Evening noise (1900 – 2300) is given an additional 5dB weighting and night noise (2300 – 0700) a 10dB weighting, to reflect the additional disturbance caused to people at these times of day.

Maps are available for the following airports: Birmingham International, Blackpool Squire’s Gate, Bournemouth, Bristol Lulsgate, Coventry, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool John Lennon, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester International, Newcastle International, Nottingham East Midlands, Shoreham, Southampton Eastleigh, and Southend.

At AEF we welcome the publication of these maps, and believe that the END methodology gives a more accurate picture of the areas affected by noise than the current UK measure of noise on an average summer’s day (0700 – 2300). It is important to note, however, that while the directive requires member states to tackle high noise areas, it does not specify what constitutes a high noise area or any appropriate measures, leaving this to the discretion of member states. The AEF fears that this will result in no action being taken, with the government continuing to refrain from using its powers in favour of local resolutions.

For areas identified as having high noise levels, we believe government should use its powers to impose limits on air traffic movements – as it does for night noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in London. In addition, government needs to be setting targets to underpin any local noise amelioration schemes agreed between operators and communities.