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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what level of noise according to the findings of the most recent Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) report would create the same level of community annoyance as 57dBA was reported to have created in the 1986 ANASE report.
While the Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) study indicates that it is highly probable that annoyance with a particular level of aircraft noise is higher than found in the 1985 Aircraft Noise Index Study, the ANASE study shows no evidence of a threshold at which people become very much more annoyed.
In terms of making quantitative comparisons between the results from ANASE and the earlier ANIS study, expert peer reviewers of the ANASE study advised that
"reliance on the detailed outcome of ANASE would be misplaced" and that they would
"counsel against using the detailed results and conclusions from ANASE in the development of Government policy".
Although the report does not provide evidence for increasing or reducing the figure of 57 dBA Leq (16 hours) as the onset of significant community annoyance we believe it is right that we retain this as a safeguard for those who are most affected by aircraft noise. In the 'Future of Air' Transport White Paper the Government gave a commitment that further development of Heathrow could only be considered if it resulted in no net increase in the total area of the 57 dBA noise contour compared with summer 2002, a contour area of 127 sq km. That commitment stands and the ability to meet it is a key consideration in the current consultation on adding capacity at Heathrow.
Additionally, as we announced when the ANASE study was released, pending the availability of a better alternative we will apply existing valuation for road and rail noise when assessing the economic impact of noise in the cost-benefit analysis of future aviation projects. We have taken this approach in the case of Heathrow consultation.
The findings from ANASE suggest that further work would be useful in a number of areas. As a first step the Department has recently chaired a meeting of the Air Noise Monitoring Committee (ANMAC) whose role is to advise the Department on policy relating to aircraft noise. The Department is working with the committee to prioritise further research and produce a programme or work.