BAA admits for the first time that over 700,000 people are affected by noise from Heathrow – more than double its previous estimate. In its Noise Action Plan for Heathrow (1), published yesterday for a 16 week period of public consultation, BAA has been forced too acknowledge for the first time that over 700,000 people are affected by aircraft noise from the airport, more than twice the number it previously admitted to. But the action plan has been described as “deeply disappointing” by the residents’ campaign group HACAN, because it sets out no firm plans to reduce noise from the airport.

The European Union requires all member states to draw up Noise Action Plans for airports with 50,000 movements a year. In a move condemned by campaign groups, DEFRA, the responsible Government Department, asked the airports themselves to draw up the plans for aircraft noise. The plans for road and rail noise are being produced by DEFRA in conjunction with the local authorities. The Heathrow noise action plan is the first one to be published. DEFRA is required to have submitted all its action plans to the European Commission by the end of this year.

Europe has forced BAA to change the way it calculates aircraft noise (2).. As a result, it has found that over 700,000 people are now affected by aircraft noise from aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow. Previously, it argued that less than 300,000 people were affected

But campaign group HACAN has produced evidence to show that even the new figure is an underestimate. It conducted a survey at Vauxhall in South London, over a mile beyond the boundary where BAA claims noise is a nuisance. If found that up to 39 planes flew over within an hour, the vast majority of them over 70 decibels (3).

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “At long last BAA has been forced to creep into the real world and admit that many more than 300,000 people are affected by aircraft noise. But even this admission is an underestimate. The World Health Organisation estimates that over a million people are affected. Our work at Vauxhall would bear that out.”

Stewart added; “Overall the Noise Action Plan is extremely disappointing. It contains lots of words but absolutely no firm plans to reduce noise. The fault lies more with the Government than with BAA. DEFRA has completely shirked its responsibilities in asking the commercial operator of the airport to draw up the noise action plan.”


Notes for Editors:

(1). BAA Noise Action Plan for Heathrow On BAA’s website

(2). Previously BAA and the UK Government averaged out noise across a 16 hour day (7am — 11pm). It showed that 258,500 people lived inside the ‘57 decibel contour’, i.e. the area where noise averaged out at 57 decibels or more. The Government and BAA claimed that is where people started to get annoyed by the noise. The World Health Organisation claimed people started to get ‘severely’ annoyed when the noise averaged out at 55 decibels and ‘moderately’ annoyed at 50 decibels. The EU now requires separate measurements for day, evening and night. These are then required to be combined to get the average over a 24 hour period, known as Lden. When BAA did that the number reached 725,500 for Heathrow. If they had then produced a figure for 50 Lden, the number would have been over a million.

(3). Dramatic picture attached of flights over Vauxhall
For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650