Residents are angered by aircraft noise

Six year study shows borough affected by flights overhead

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The Department for Transport has published its first major national study on aircraft noise for nearly a quarter of a century.

On November 2, the Department published a six year ANASE study (The Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) on its website.

But critics have accused the Department of running away from the findings of its own study because it has found that aircraft noise causes much more annoyance than the Government or the aviation industry has previously admitted.

The Government has consistently maintained that aircraft noise only starts to annoy people when it averages out at 57 decibels.

But the new study suggests that significant annoyance starts at around 50 decibels. According to pressure group HACAN that is consistent with the findings of the World Health Organisation.

The report's timing is crucial because it comes just before the campaign for a third runway at Heathrow. This can only go ahead if ministers are able to show that the expansion will not result in breaches to EU air quality limits and that there will be no increased exposure to noise in the area around the airport.

If the line is drawn at 50 decibels, noise can be shown to affect residents living inside a large area running from Slough and Maidenhead to Clapham Common and Battersea.

The area covers more than 2 million people including Hammersmith & Fulham residents. Local campaign groups argue they have been telling the Government this for years.

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said, “Local people have been vindicated. For over 10 years now local people in areas more than 15 miles from the airport have been complaining about aircraft noise problems. This study shows they have not been imagining it.”

The government has said it will publish the latest expansion plans for a third runway at Heathrow at the end of December. The current annual movements limit at the airport is 480,000. If both runway alternation were ended and a third runway built the number of flights each year at Heathrow could rise to around 800,000.


November 9, 2007