Campaign groups unite to fight noise

Local campaign groups HALE, Harpenden Sky and Save Our Skies (St Albans) are collaborating to fight against the growing impact of noise from Luton Airport. Each group recognises that the communities affected by aircraft noise are too close together to solve the problem simply by flying the aircraft down the middle: the new RNAV GPS-based aircraft navigation system has demonstrated that concentration of flights at 4,000 feet is not the answer.

Nigel Emms from HALE summed it up as follows: “Aircraft noise travels sideways as well as downwards, and with a 50% increase in flights in just 2 years on the route which passes between Redbourn and Harpenden to the north, and Hemel and St Albans to the south, a concentrated ‘wall of noise’ leaves nobody satisfied. Campaigners need to work together to engage with the CAA and airport operators to achieve better solutions with realistic expectation of noise reduction.”

Sabra Swinson from Save our Skies added: “The RNAV consultation was long on technical detail but short on the expectations communities could have for real noise reduction. We believe that working together, we can more easily focus the agenda onto the issues that affect all communities, rather than onto partisan distractions.”

Neil MacArthur from said: “Luton Airport expansion must be halted until the proposed RNAV airspace operational changes are implemented. The Luton Airport CEO Nick Barton has shown scant disregard for the significant increase in Luton air traffic noise affecting Harpenden residents and has now proposed changes which will take between one and three years to implement. This also highlights the complete failure of the RNAV consultation process where 1,000s of Hertfordshire residents were completely unaware of the noise they were about to experience.”

Nigel Emms added: “RNAV is a GPS-based navigation technology which more tightly controls aircraft track-keeping, resulting in a concentration of noise rather than a more random dispersal. Guidance produced by the CAA makes it clear that to reduce noise significantly means moving flight tracks away from affected communities by larger distances than are available between the towns and villages of Hertfordshire. Hence a more radical re-think is required.”