Aircraft Noise 'Causes Health Problems 20 Miles From Heathrow'

Hacan group and Ruth Cadbury MP challenge Government over noise pollution

CGI image of how extended airport might look

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Ruth Cadbury MP has asked the Government to review its decision to go ahead with Heathrow expansion following the release this week of new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on noise.

Following her challenge to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling in the Commons, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth said, '‘These new guidelines by the WHO reaffirm just how damaging Heathrow’s third runway would be. Around one and a half million people are already affected by health-damaging noise and expansion will take it over 2 million. That’s just one of several reasons we need to scrap the third runway- it’s simply going to be too harmful on our health”.

Campaign group HACAN has said that the new noise guidelines from the World Health Organisation, send a strong message to Heathrow as it develops its new flight paths that aircraft noise problems are not confined to areas close to the airport.

The guidelines indicate that aircraft noise can affect the health of people living well over 20 miles from Heathrow. You can read the full report.

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “The clear message to Heathrow is that it needs to look after its distant neighbours as well as its near neighbours when planning it new flight paths. The most effective way to do that is to ensure that residents living 20 miles and more from the airport are guaranteed predicable breaks from the noise each day.

Stewart, said; “The findings confirm everything residents have been telling us over many years. Noise from Heathrow is not just a problem local to the airport.”

The World Health Organisation has found that when average noise is 45 decibels it can have health effects. Previous WHO guidelines argued that people could start to become annoyed by noise when it averaged out at 50 decibels over the day. In geographical terms that covered areas about 16 miles from the airport, places like Peckham in South East London.

A 45 decibel contour would to extend at least 20 miles from the airport, to places like Greenwich in the east and Reading in the west. But it would also include places such as Leytonstone in North East which experience noise from both Heathrow and London City Airport.

The World Health Organisation guidelines applies to all countries within Europe, not just those in the European Union but are simply guidelines. Their main purpose is to outline the health impacts of noise on the basis of the available evidence. The WHO does not expect the levels to be adhered to overnight as that would entail the closure of most airports and many roads.

October 12, 2018

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