| Press Release - 11 August 2009
ACCURATE INFORMATION FOR STANSTED NOISE ACTION PLAN CONSULTATION NEEDED,
SSE TELLS ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY HILARY BENN
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called on the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, to intervene in BAA's draft Noise Action Plan consultation to ensure that correct figures are published which show the true extent of the noise impacts from Stansted Airport.
This, say the group, is essential to allow public consultation to be conducted on the basis of accurate and consistent data before the deadline for responses of 2 October.
Analysis by SSE has revealed that BAA's consultation misrepresents and understates the number of people affected by overflying associated with the airport.
BAA's draft Noise Action Plan claims to provide the results of noise mapping carried out in 2006 but this is untrue. BAA has published lower figures for the numbers of people exposed to aircraft noise than the official figures published independently by the CAA, who carried out the 2006 noise mapping in accordance with the requirements of the EU Environmental Noise Directive (END).
BAA has provided noise data based on an entirely separate methodology, which does not comply with the END and could well result in the public being misled as to how much they are affected.
Reconciliation with the official CAA figures is impossible for four out of the five sets of figures given by BAA in the draft Noise Action Plan. In the one case where it is possible to reconcile the two different sets of figures, BAA's figures significantly understate the number of people affected compared to the independent CAA figures.
This inconsistency is not specific to Stansted Airport. There are similar inconsistencies in BAA's draft Noise Action Plans for Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, which also understate the number of people affected by aircraft noise, compared to the official CAA data.
Critically, BAA's error undermines the objective of the END which requires a common approach across EU Member States to measuring and then reducing the noise impacts of airports upon local communities.
Writing to Hilary Benn, the Government Minister responsible for implementing the END, SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: "The misrepresentation and understatement of noise data in the Stansted draft Noise Action Plan is unacceptable and is another example of what can only be described as a casual approach towards implementation of the END by the Government and BAA alike."
SSE is nevertheless urging all members of the community affected by noise from overflying to respond to BAA's consultation and has issued step-by-step guidance with an overview and background briefing to assist those without specialist knowledge of the issues. As well as being concerned about BAA's misrepresentation of the data, SSE considers the draft Noise Action Plan to be mostly a wish list rather than representing a meaningful plan to reduce Stansted's noise impacts.
The SSE guidance is available online or on request from the SSE Campaign Office on 01279 870558.
NOTE TO EDITORS
1. SSE's letter to Hilary Benn can be accessed online where SSE's guidance on responding to BAA's draft Noise Action Plan can also be found.
2. The BAA draft Noise Action Plan for Stansted is available online at www.stanstedairport.com/noise.
3. The EU END (Directive 2002/49/EC) for the assessment and management of environmental noise is designed to define a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce on a prioritized basis the harmful effects, including annoyance, due to exposure to environmental noise. It was transposed into UK law as the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 and requires the production of airport noise maps and noise action plans for airports including Stansted. Stansted noise maps were produced by the CAA for the year 2006, showing the numbers of population and households affected within defined noise level contours. The Noise Action Plan is designed to manage noise issues and effects, incorporating measures for reducing noise.
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091, firstname.lastname@example.org