How Intrusive are the Planes? 

GLA Environment Committee calls on the Government to adopt a new method of measuring aircraft noise

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In a report published today the GLA Environment Committee calls on the Government to adopt a new method of measuring aircraft noise (pdf).  It found that the method recommended by the European Union more accurately reflects noise disturbance.  Under the method traditionally used by the UK Government, just over 250,000 people are said to be disturbed by noise from Heathrow.  But the EU method puts the figure at 725,000 .

Currently, when measuring aircraft noise, the Government averages out the noise over a 16 hour day.  The EU method averages it out over a 12 hour day, a separate 4 evening period and an 8 hour night period.  It adds 5 decibels to the evening period, and 10 decibels to the night, to allow for lower background noise levels at these tim

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, which campaigns against aircraft noise on behalf of Heathrow residents, said, “We welcome this report and urge the Government to take account of its findings.  The current way of measuring noise says planes are not a problem in places like Putney or Fulham.  This is clearly untrue.  The EU method gives a more accurate picture of the true numbers affected by noise”.

In a wide-ranging report, the Committee also recommended that the noise measurements from Heathrow and London City Airport should be combined to reflect the way people who live under both flight paths hear the noise.

The report also wants the Government, jointly with Heathrow Airport, to commission a full independent health assessment of the impact of the airport’s operations on local communities.  And it recommends a wide range of improvements to public transport serving the airport.

Cllr Corinna Smart, cabinet member for environment at Hounslow council, said:“The air quality around Heathrow is already the second worst in London.

“It isn’t right that just because people live close to the airport they should be put at risk of serious ill-health and premature death.

“This report rightly highlights the need for a better understanding of the health impact of the airport – not just from planes, but also from the large volumes of traffic the airport generates.

“Also, we welcome the call to adopt a lower threshold for the noise insulation scheme making so it is in line with EU requirements and guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation.”

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March 15, 2012