Civil Aviation Authority says UK's noise measure method is out-of-date
An all-party group of councils, politicians and the Mayor of London have welcomed the breakthrough which could change the terms of the airport expansion debate based on noise levels.
Currently, a 57 decibel noise contour is drawn around an airport to show which areas are affected by noise and which are not. The measure was chosen over 30 years ago based on a survey of people's attitudes to noise.
In a new report, the CAA says there should be a new survey on attitudes to noise to inform aviation policy making and decisions on airport expansion.
Because Heathrow is located in densely populated west London an increase to its official noise footprint would draw in huge numbers of homes – all of which could be eligible for noise mitigation.
The CAA change of heart comes after the all-party 2M Group of councils launched the ANASE noise study at the House of Commons in which leading acoustician Dr Ian Flindell explores the shortcomings of the 57 decibel metric.
Tony Arbour GLA member for Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow said that some of the answers given by Sir Howard Davies, the Chairman of the Airports Commission, to the London Assembly. were "worrying".
"He refused to acknowledge the benefits that a 4-runway hub airport would bring to Britain, despite my probing. At a time when hub airports are being built all over the world with upwards of 4 runways this is a concern.
"Equally concerning was Sir Howard’s unwillingness to accept just how horrendous Heathrow expansion would be for millions of Londoners. Despite this, in September the Commission has the opportunity to confirm that an Isle of Grain Airport is a very real possibility. If not, then the Commission will reveal itself to have been a complete waste of time and money.
West London MP Zac Goldsmith, member of the all-party group of MPs opposed to Heathrow expansion, said: “Residents and local councillors have long known that the Heathrow noise regime is based on a hopelessly out of date formula. It is significant and hugely welcome that the UK's independent aviation regulator has reached the same conclusion. Clearly if Sir Howard Davies's recommendations are based on that same formula, they will not withstand any scrutiny at all.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It has been evident for a very long time that the basis on which we measure aircraft noise is archaic, technically flawed and ever less related to the expectations people have of life in a modern, civilised city. I have been calling for some time for a new approach that takes advantage of up-to-date evidence on how aircraft noise is perceived, as well as on the associated health effects; and I am happy if the CAA is coming round to that view.”
To let Sir Howard Davies know your views email Howard.Davies@airports.gsi.gov.uk.
To let the Transport Secretary know your views email email@example.com.
To report noise complaints to Heathrow email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 344 844.
June 23, 2014