April 26, 2013
The Government’s proposals on night noise should aim to deliver health-based long term objectives for limiting community exposure to excessive noise, argues AEF in its response to a consultation on noise regulation at the dominant London airports.Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are the only airports at which the Government imposes noise controls, which are reviewed on a five-yearly basis. At other airports, noise is controlled only through planning conditions and agreements or voluntary action.
Despite the emphasis in this and other Government consultations on the importance of respondents’ quoting and submitting good evidence for their views, there is little apparent evidence-base for the current system of controls and permissions. But rather than proposing a system for delivering health-based noise limits, the consultation proposes adjustments apparently selected for causing the least possible cost or inconvenience to airports and airlines.
In our consultation response, AEF calls for:
Research commissioned by DfT from the CAA notes that in addition to causing disturbance and annoyance, exposure to aircraft noise can increase people’s risk of heart disease, strokes and dementia.
This long and technical consultation, which focussed on high level principles and methodologies, will be followed later this year by a second document making specific proposals for amendments to the current regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and is likely to include consideration of introducing ‘easterly preference’ at Heathrow between 23:30 and 06:00, whereby most arriving aircraft would come in from the west of London (which is less heavily populated). No aircraft are currently scheduled to take off from Heathrow during this period, but often do so in cases of delay.