2M Urges Davies To Order New Noise Study

Decisions could be made on surveys over 30 years old

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Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion have called on the Airports Commission to order a new study of attitudes to aircraft noise.

Without an updated study the councils fear the Commission will be limited to basing recommendations on sites for new airport capacity on surveys carried out more than 30 years ago.

The 2M Group has also republished the ANASE study into attitudes to aircraft noise which was rejected by the last Government. ANASE, which reported in 2007, showed that the official method for measuring community annoyance did not take account of rising numbers of aircraft.

The councils say that, while adopting the ANASE findings would provide the commission with a more robust benchmark, the real answer is to order a brand new study that properly reflects current attitudes.

Hillingdon leader Ray Puddifoot said:
“It shouldn’t be down to the local authorities to resurrect the ANASE findings. It is astonishing that neither the last Government nor the present one has done this.

“We took the decision to invite the ANASE team to address the concerns expressed about their work at the time. This is the first time they have been given this opportunity. We believe the updated study is an important body of evidence which we are happy to make available to the Davies Commission.”

Wandsworth leader Ravi Govindia said:
“The problem with the noise measure produced by the original 1980s study is that it does not bear any relation to real-life experience.

“It is difficult for a measure to command public confidence when it effectively tells people living in places like Barnes, Fulham, Putney, Ealing, Chelsea, Stockwell and Windsor that they are not affected by noise because they live outside the 57 decibel (dB) area around Heathrow.

“Our own evidence as local councils responding every day to complaints on aircraft noise suggests that the true number affected by Heathrow operations is around 1m – four times the figure implied by the 57dB contour.”

Today’s noise averaging system (Leq) was introduced following the ANIS study in 1982 – more than 30 years ago.

While this new metric gave greater weight to the noise energy produced by individual aircraft at source, it has failed to give adequate weight to a near doubling of noise episodes at Heathrow during the standardised 16-hour period. As a result complaints from residents grew while the contour itself was shrinking.

The accompanying map clearly shows the vast difference between the 57dB contour and what 2M say is the more accurate and relevant measure of noise nuisance – 55dB.

The Airports Commission, which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies, examines the need for additional UK airport capacity and recommends to Government how this can be met. In their evidence to the Commission the councils call for:

• A new social survey of community attitudes to aircraft noise that can provide a rational basis for assessments on future capacity

• A new noise threshold for the area around Heathrow that gives sufficient weight to the numbers of movements and noise episodes experienced in any one hour

• A review of compensation arrangements for communities affected in line with a new threshold

The 2M response is supported by Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead, Southwark, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, and South Bucks.

The closing date for the Commission’s consultation on aviation noise is September 6.

September 6, 2013