Stewart White of BBC Look East interviewed Glyn Jones, MD of Luton Airport, on 14th September 2012 and asked about the issues of aircraft noise: this is what Glyn had to say, along with HALE comments about the responses.
SW: “The number of flights between 2005 and 2010 registering 76dBA has doubled – you can understand why people don’t like it?”
GJ: “We understand very well what the concerns about noise are, which is why we are undertaking a listening exercise at the moment. We are very keen to hear the opinions of people about noise… very keen to hear what people will say.”
HALE: Glyn Jones accepts that the mix of aircraft is getting noisier over time, but all he can say is that they’re listening. Well, he has extended the invitation, so email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them what YOU think about aircraft noise around Luton Airport. Is it likely to reduce with 60% more flights? Certainly not – there is going to be 60% more noise on top of what we have now. But the airport can hide behind noise contours which smooth this out over a 16-hour day, masking the true picture which HALE exposed – see Noise Gate.
SW: “You can understand that the worry is that it’s going to get noisier for people who live in that area?”
GJ: “That’s why we’re putting forward six completely new measures as well as the 55 measures already approved in our Noise Action Plan in order to try to deal with this issue. Noise is a key issue and we’ll deal with noise.”
HALE: Of the 55 Action Plan measures, 44 are just monitoring. The six new measures do not contain specific, independently verifiable commitments which will provably lead to a substantial reduction in overall noise. With 60% more flights envisaged compared to 2011, fining the handful at the very noisiest end of the scale is by no means enough. Many of the measures involve “encouraging” airlines to take “voluntary” measures or ”reviewing” policies and procedures. These are not definite, measurable commitments to deliver quantifiable improvement. We propose a very simple and straightforward action: IMPLEMENT STEADILY REDUCING CAPS ON DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL NOISE, AND BAN REPEAT OFFENDERS.
SW: “What about night flights – are you going to increase that number or are you going to give an assurance that you won’t?”
GJ: “A lot of the activities within the six new measures that we’re proposing are designed to deal with that. What we are proposing is to reduce the proportion of night noise. People are often very concerned about cargo flights – the number of cargo flights only increases by 1 every 2 days at the absolute peak. We’re very conscious about night noise – it is the biggest source of irritation and we’re trying to do the best that we can about it.”
HALE: Luton Airport have said they will reduce the proportion of night flights – not the number. The overall number of flights is set to increase by 60% compared to 2011, so overall the number of night flights will increase – as Glyn eventually admits. For the MD of the airport to say “we’re trying to do the best we can about it” is effectively to say “we’re not prepared to do much about it”. Why? Because it’s profitable. Because knowing what a key issue it is for local people, he would have trumpeted any definite measure to substantially reduce night noise. HALE would say REDUCE THE NUMBER OF NIGHT FLIGHTS OR BAN THEM ALTOGETHER, AND SET MUCH STRICTER NOISE CAPS. What they are actually telling us is that night noise will increase, because there will be more flights at night – and night flights are already the noisiest in the mix.
It is vitally important for you to have your say – email email@example.com and copy firstname.lastname@example.org giving your opinion on the issue of aircraft noise.