|Planned increased in night flights 'scandalous'|
Environmentalists blast Government as consultation begins
The Department of Transport’s second phase of their public consultation into the contentious issue of night flights will end on September 16th 2005. This second consultation follows the DFT’s initial report into the current restrictions of night flights out of all London airports.
The World Health Organisation guidelines say that noise levels above 50- 55 decibels (about the level of a normal conversation) are highly annoying. This level falls by about 10 decibels at night. The Department for Transport have claimed they want to meet these guidelines in the next 25 years, however Friends of the Earth’s West London group believe that these proposals aren’t enough. Nic Ferriday, spokesperson for the branch, said "Night noise from Heathrow is already a big problem, disturbing the sleep of thousands of people in west London and beyond. The government should be looking to reduce the problem. Instead, they are planning to make it worse by increasing the number of night flights. This is nothing short of scandalous."
He went on to say "The noise quota is a theoretical value that does not relate to perceived noise or nuisance. The noise quota is used misleadingly by the government to try and show that noise nuisance is decreasing when it could, in fact, be increasing."
The consultation paper covers environmental issues as well as noise abatement and states that the objectives for Heathrow are:
On the basis of the evidence available, including the responses to Stage 1 of the consultation, the DFT believes these objectives are consistent with, and proportionate to, the economic benefits (including benefits to passengers) which night flights produce. However, they welcome any further information, from respondents to Stage 2, which may tend either to support or to contradict this contention.
The DFT does not believe that objectives requiring the elimination of all disturbance at night would be compatible with a fair balance with economic costs to airport users. Therefore the proposed objectives common to all three London airports are to minimize sleep disturbance resulting from overflight of the noisiest types of aircraft and to mitigate the effects of noise (in particular, sleep disturbance effects) by encouraging the adoption by the airports of appropriate night-noise- related criteria. For domestic and other noise-sensitive premises they will determine which residents should be offered sound insulation to be paid for or contributed to by the airport.
To see the full text of the consultation and to take part click here.
August 26, 2005