Heathrow Airport: Noise

Transport written question – answered on 7th June 2007.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Vice-Chair (Youth), Conservative Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

(1) when his Department next intends to review its excessive noise policy on aircraft departing from Heathrow Airport; whether this review will include an assessment of noise regulation of aircraft arriving at Heathrow Airport; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what criteria are used to judge the appropriate noise limits for aircraft departing Heathrow Airport in relation to the (a) daytime limit, (b) shoulder period limit and (c) night limit; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of noise limits in operation at Heathrow Airport; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

holding answer s 6 June 2007

Following consultation, the current departure noise limits were introduced in December 2000. The daytime limit (0700-2300) 94dBA (a reduction of 3dB) came into effect in February 2001. The night time limit (2330-0600) 87dBA came into effect in March 2001. The previous night-time limit of 89dBA (a reduction of 2dB) was retained for the shoulder periods (2300-2330 and 0600-0700). These limits are kept under review.

The Government's Aircraft Noise Monitoring Advisory Committee (ANMAC) considered in 1999 the feasibility of setting noise limits for arriving aircraft. It concluded that it would not be appropriate to do so, due to the very limited discretion available to pilots once established on the final approach. ANMAC recommended the development of a code of practice for arriving flights for air traffic controllers, airlines and airport managers. The code was originally produced in 2002 with a revised edition being issued in November 2006. The code focuses on the use of continuous descent approach as the practice most conducive to noise abatement.

Annual noise contours representing noise from both arriving and departing aircraft are produced by the Civil Aviation Authority's Environmental Research and Consultancy Division. These contours are based on data from fixed and mobile noise monitor sites installed by BAA under departure tracks at Heathrow. The data are used to monitor compliance with Government noise limits at Heathrow and is reported regularly through the airport's Noise and Track Keeping Group and the Consultative Committee.

These contours which have been produced for many years also give the local community an indication of how many people are affected by a level of noise. The 57dBa Leq is used as the level of daytime noise marking the approximate onset of significant community annoyance.

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