No Place to Hide

Major study reveals how aircraft noise has become worse over the last decade in London
“an almost constant background of aircraft noise” 15 miles from Heathrow.

A major new study published today reveals how aircraft noise has become much worse in London over the past decade. The study, carried out by the independent firm of consultants Bureau Veritas and published by the campaign group HACAN (1), shows that “aircraft nose dominated the local noise environment” in places over 15 miles from the airport. The report, No Place to Hide, also revealed that some parts of East London which are overflown by both City Airport and Heathrow aircraft can get as much aircraft noise as areas of West London.

The study is likely to have important implications for government policy. It challenges the Government view that aircraft noise only becomes a problem for most people when noise levels average out at 57 decibels (2).

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “For more than ten years the Department for Transport and BAA have turned a deaf ear to the persistent claims of Londoners that aircraft noise has become a problem many miles from Heathrow. This study backs up in a big way what people have been saying. London has become like one long landing strip for the airport.”

HACAN is calling for:

  • The area where aircraft noise is a problem is much wider than that officially recognised by the authorities arguing that, unless this is factored into policy-making processes, there is the danger of policy being formulated on the basis of poor information.

  • Consultation of any plans to expand Heathrow should include local authorities and residents well beyond West London.

  • The noise contours for areas affected by planes from both Heathrow and City airports need to reflect the combined effect of the aircraft passing overhead.


Notes for Editors:

(1). HACAN commissioned the consultants Bureau Veritas to carry out a study to assess if, and how, flight paths over London have changed over the past 10 years. The study was paid for by a grant from the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. It just covered London. It did not cover areas to the west of the airport, but the findings outlined would be applicable to those areas. Bureau Veritas is a firm with a distinguished record which has done work for a variety of clients including local authorities and the Government. Its Director, Stephen Turner, acts as an adviser to DEFRA.

(2). The official contour (where the Government and aviation industry acknowledge there may be a noise problem) contains the area enclosed by the 57 dB(A) LAeq contour. That is, the area where aircraft noise averages out at 57 decibels over the course of the summer – roughly between Barnes and Heathrow.

For further information contact:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650

Stephen Turner, Director Bureau Veritas, 0207 902 6176 or 07702634278