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Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:36 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East 6:36 pm, 5th February 2020

Aviation emissions in the UK have more than doubled since 1990. The Government plan to build a third runway at Heathrow airport and according to the Department for Transport projections for Heathrow expansion, the UK’s legally binding targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 will be missed. While there is an economic argument for expanding Heathrow airport, there are clear legitimate concerns about the environmental impact and a need to reform the aviation sector.

In Lewisham East, residents have been, and are, suffering from concentrated flight paths from City and Heathrow airports. Rebecca, who represents many constituents, wrote to me to say:

“We strongly oppose City airport’s plan to increase flights by 45% and to abolish the 24 hour no flying rule at the weekend.”

She was woken at 5 am by a low-flying City airport flight. The Government must conduct a review of the impact of concentrated flight paths across Lewisham East and south London that fully assesses inequalities. Our poorer and more diverse areas have been subjected more to overhead flights.

Jessica, another constituent, says:

“I have noticed a definite increase in large aircraft frequency and consequent noise. Obviously, this concerns me for daily disturbance and environmental reasons.”

So constituents are writing to me expressing their concerns and worries.

Another constituent was diagnosed as suffering from a low-frequency noise:

“It is an extremely depressing, debilitating and painful condition”,

she said to me.

Last summer, I held a public meeting on this issue. The room was filled with residents who had come together to discuss this concern. The fact that flight paths from City and Heathrow airports are currently overlapping means planes arriving at City airport must fly lower and for longer. This has created corridors of noise that reach unacceptable levels and increase emissions, which are affecting my community.

Air waves, and sound and noise from flying aircraft need to be regulated. The proposals in City airport’s draft masterplan to lift the restrictions on flights in the evening and at weekends to significantly increase the number of flights are unacceptable and would mean that residents had no respite from excess noise, which would have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.

According to the World Health Organisation, noise is the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air quality. My constituents cannot tolerate the present flight paths and certainly cannot tolerate increases to their flight paths caused by City airport or Heathrow.

I call on the Government to take action to significantly reduce aviation emissions, to review the impact of concentrated flights across Lewisham East and south London, to conduct an equalities impact assessment, and to introduce regulation to prohibit sound waves from exceeding acceptable world health limits.