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Aviation: Aircraft Noise

Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the number of children whose learning is negatively affected by aircraft noise; and [HL395]

Whether they have made an assessment of the conclusion published in the Lancet in 2005 regarding the negative effects of (a) road traffic, and (b) aircraft noise on children's cognition; and, if so, whether they will take steps to ensure that aircraft noise does not have a negative impact on children's education in (i) schools; (ii) play areas; and (iii) homes. [HL397]

The Government have not made an assessment of the number of children whose learning might be negatively affected by aircraft noise. However, under Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise, the Government will be making strategic noise maps for major airports, major roads, major railways and agglomerations by June 2007. Based on these maps, action plans will be drawn up to manage and reduce noise and its effects as necessary.

The Government part-funded the European Commission fifth framework research project, Road Traffic and Aircraft Noise and Children's Cognition and Health (RANCH). Details of the findings of this project can be found at www.wolfson.qmul.ac.uk/RANCH_Project/ and were published in the Lancet in 2005. This research is a valuable part of the evidence base for developing policy on noise.

Gatwick and Heathrow are required to provide acoustic insulation under powers in the Civil Aviation Act 1982. The Government do not monitor voluntary schemes run by other airports. However, the UK's 30 major airports are publishing master plans that, alongside their development proposals, include current and future proposals for noise mitigation.