Skip to main content

Aviation: Noise

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when the Government adopted the 57dBLeq contour as the threshold for problematic aircraft noise; (194002)

(2) if she will review the effectiveness of the 57dBLeq contour as a threshold for problematic transport-related noise.

In September 1990 the Department for Transport announced the replacement of the noise and number index (NNI) with Leq (16 hour) dBA as the daytime index for aircraft noise. 57 dBA Leq (measured over 07.00-23.00 period) was adopted as representing the onset of annoyance, although the Government acknowledged that there can be no absolute measure of disturbance from aircraft noise given the variation in individual reactions.

This decision followed publication of the report “United Kingdom Aircraft Noise Index Study” (ANIS) in 1985 and subsequent consultation on its findings.

In 2001 the Department commissioned the “Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources” (ANASE) study to update the ANIS research. The conclusions of this study (which were announced by the Secretary of State on 2 November 2007) indicated that whilst it is highly probable that annoyance with a particular level of aircraft noise is higher than found in the ANIS study, it showed no evidence of a particular threshold at which it becomes a serious problem.

However, in terms of making quantitative comparisons between the results from ANASE and the earlier ANIS study, expert peer reviewers of the ANASE study advised that “reliance on the detailed outcome of ANASE would be misplaced” and that they would “counsel against using the detailed results and conclusions from ANASE in the development of government policy”.

Although the report does not provide evidence for replacing the figure of 57 dBA Leq (16 hours) with a lower or higher figure, we believe it is right to retain this figure as a safeguard for those who are most affected by aircraft noise. In the “Future of Air Transport” White Paper the Government gave a commitment that further development of Heathrow could only be considered if it resulted in no net increase in the total area of the 57 Leq dBA noise contour compared with summer 2002, an area of 127 sq km. That commitment stands and the ability to meet it is a key consideration, in the “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation.

Additionally, as we announced when the ANASE study was released, pending the availability of a better alternative we will apply existing valuation for road and rail noise when assessing the economic impact of noise in the cost- benefit analysis of future aviation projects. We have taken this approach in the case of “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation.

The Department is taking forward work to follow up the ANASE findings with the Aircraft Noise Monitoring Advisory Committee (ANMAC), whose role is to advise the Department on policy relating to aircraft noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

The significance of the 57 dBA (16 hours) contour—as representing the onset of annoyance—specifically relates to aircraft noise. Noise annoyance criteria from other transport sources will reflect research, as appropriate, specific to those modes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether training flight movements are included in data collected on air traffic management movements and consequential noise at UK airports. (200671)

The Civil Aviation Authority collects statistics on air transport movements at the larger UK airports and these are published on their website. The published statistics include a table:

(http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2007Annual/Table_ 03_1_Aircraft_Movements_2007.csv)

listing non-commercial movements amongst which are test and training flights.

The CAA also produces annual noise contours maps for the three London designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted). However similar maps for other airports are not produced.