Noise remains a major issue around airports and the issue is central in the debate around airport expansion. In June, the Airports Commission released a paper on the issue and we outline our response here.
When it considers expansion proposals, the Commission cannot simply look at which proposal has the least worst noise impacts. Without prejudice to our view that new runways are not required, we insist that expansion proposals must be measured by how they actively tackle the current noise problem. Any proposals that would lead to increased noise levels or a failure to reduce noise to acceptable levels should be rejected by the commission.
In our response to the Commission’s discussion paper on noise, we outline that:
- The Commission must develop a robust noise management approach which sets out appropriate noise limits
- The Commission should recommend that the government sets long-term goals for noise reduction consistent with WHO recommendations
- Alternative noise metrics should be considered that reflect recent studies into the health impacts of noise. An example is for night noise, where we support the WHO recommended “Lnight” metric. The ‘number above’ contours suggestion by the commission is also a good metric to measure night noise as these maps show how many flights there are above noise thresholds in specific areas.
- Improvement in aircraft technology, better land use planning, and improved operational procedures offer some opportunities to tackle the noise problem. However, these approaches are likely to be insufficient to compensate for higher numbers of aircraft movements
Our full response is available here.
The commission’s discussion paper on noise is available here.