Lords call for legal protection against aircraft noise

Homes and community buildings should be enshrined say Peers

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The need for homes and community buildings to be protected from aircraft noise should be enshrined in law, according to leading members of the House of Lords.

Peers from the three main parties will call on the Government to make airport operators legally responsible for ensuring homes, schools and other public buildings are adequately insulated. They plan to highlight the issue during the third reading of the Government’s Civil Aviation Bill this Tuesday.

Lord Berkeley will table an amendment calling on the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, to impose “a duty on responsible authorities to insulate domestic and community buildings, such as schools and nurseries, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, places of worship, libraries and other public use buildings against noise caused, or expected to be caused, by the use of aerodromes for the taking off and landing or aircraft”.

In a separate move, Lord Hanningfield will table an amendment requiring the Secretary of State to order airports to introduce compensation schemes for people whose properties are adversely affected by proposals for airport expansion.

The news has been welcomed by Hounslow Council officials who have been taken their campaign to protect residents from the impacts of living next to Heathrow to the Houses of Parliament.

The Council’s Head of Environment, Rob Gibson, said “This is good news for people living in the London Borough of Hounslow. We have repeatedly called on the Government to introduce a statutory noise insulation scheme and we’re delighted that Lord Berkeley has taken up our cause.

“We currently have a voluntary arrangement that leaves many residents suffering intolerable levels of noise pollution. Making adequate sound-proofing a statutory requirement would finally ensure that the airport is held to account.

“It could also be good news for schoolchildren in the borough who often struggle to learn against a backdrop of constant aircraft noise. If robust legislation is introduced, it will enable us to address the estimated £100m of building work required to help local schools comply with international standards for noise and ventilation.”

It isn’t the first time the Lords has sought to amend the Government’s controversial Bill. During the second reading earlier this month, a majority of Peers voted to overturn Government plans to remove the current cap on night flights.

The Lords’ proposals will only pass into law if they are support by MPs when the Bill returns to the House of Commons for final consideration in April 2006.


March 28, 2006