| Press Release - 1 September 2009
***Note - a PHOTOCALL will be held at 5.30pm on WEDNESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER just ahead of the meeting described below with local residents wearing ear defenders and holding aircraft cut outs with the wording 'no to noise' to make their point. This will take place on Hatfield Heath just by the URC Hall (opposite the Hunters Meet Restaurant). Contact Carol Barbone on 0777 552 3091 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information***
AIRCRAFT NOISE NUISANCE TO BE TACKLED AT SPECIAL MEETING IN HATFIELD HEATH
A special public meeting is to be held in Hatfield Heath on Wednesday 9 September to discuss the vastly increased noise levels caused by planes flying from Stansted. The meeting will also set out the strategy for countering the adverse effects on the communities of Hatfield Heath, Hatfield Broad Oak and the Hallingbury's.
It will take place at 6pm at the URC Hall, Hatfield Heath and has been organized at the behest of local resident Jo Stewart who has led calls for action in the village to tackle the severe disturbance being experienced locally by overflying aircraft. Like others, Jo has found the increased noise levels this year to be a source of constant irritation and frustration with the situation exacerbated at night.
The noise problems stem from measures introduced by cost-conscious airlines earlier this year with a view to saving fuel which has meant the flaps on aircraft being retracted earlier after take-off than previously and pilots using different acceleration and climb rates on departures. This change of practices means that the planes are lower and noisier for longer between heights of 800ft and 3000ft.
While the airlines are acting within the rules, they did not inform BAA or the local community prior to these changes. The resulting impacts are that the Hallingburys and villages beyond are reporting increased noise levels. There is also some adverse noise impact under the departure route from planes taking off in the other direction over Duton Hill and out towards Stebbing.
The problem has been compounded by the introduction of the new Air Asia X flights whose aircraft have been upsetting the community since the Malaysian service was first started in March.
The planes being used by Air Asia X are Airbus A340 aircraft - large wide-bodied, four-engined noisy machines - which fly on the 'Clacton' route above the Hallingbury's, Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Heath and beyond, both during the day and at night. In June there were a number of occasions when these aircraft contravened even the Department for Transport's noise restrictions.
Uttlesford District Councillor Peter Wilcock and Stop Stansted Expansion's noise adviser Martin Peachey will both speak at the meeting with plenty of time devoted to answering questions from the public. Both are members of the airport's Noise and Track Keeping Working Group. Councillors Keith Artus (Broad Oak and the Hallingbury's) and Mark Lemon (Hatfield Heath) have also been closely involved in the preparations.
BAA has also been invited to send a representative from its Flight Evaluation Unit to take part in the meeting.
All those concerned about the current noise problems are welcome to attend. Further information is available from SSE on 01279 870558.
NOTE TO EDITORS
1. The Noise and Track Keeping Working Group (NTKW/G) for the airport, which includes community representatives, is currently endeavouring to resolve the issues of changed practices described above. On the question of the revised take-off procedures, while the airlines have acted within the rules, they did not inform BAA or the local affected community prior to these changes.
So far it has been possible to establish a general explanation from the airlines of the changed procedures and BAA has detailed information of tracks, heights and speeds of aircraft this summer compared with last summer. BAA has also agreed to carry out special noise monitoring to provide a measure of the disturbance caused while SSE has asked Uttlesford District Council to complement this by carrying out noise monitoring in the villages which are worst affected.
At present SSE is gathering information from the community to establish the extent of the problem together with a technical and operational analysis of noise abatement procedures so that the issue can be assessed and a satisfactory resolution found. SSE is liaising with BAA in order to make progress on behalf of local people and has attended two separate meetings at BAA with Hatfield Heath residents.
2. The separate issue of the noisy Air Asia X flights has also caused much concern out as far as Pleshey and Felsted. This service started operations in March to Kuala Lumpur and it is the departing rather than arriving aircraft which appear to be causing the most problems. There are two 6.10pm departures (Wednesday and Saturday) and five 1.30am departures (each night except Thursday and Sunday) and they all use the Clacton departure route, hence flying over Little Hallingbury when the westerly runway is in use. The Airbus A340-300 used is quite different from the usual Ryanair and easyJet short-haul modern aircraft operating out of Stansted. It is much older, much noisier and climbs more slowly.
As a result of complaints received, SSE has taken up the issue through the NTKW/G and, while this airline can legally use Stansted Airport, BAA has so far agreed to:
(i) Fine the airline for each of the five occasions in June when aircraft infringed Government noise limits at night;
(ii) Explore with the airline how a reduction of noise can be achieved;
(iii) Explore with the airline re-scheduling the night departure time out of the core period (2330-0600) into what is called the shoulder period (2300-2330 or 0600-0700).
SSE continues to gather evidence of the track and height performance of this particular aircraft and the locations that are experiencing increased noise disturbance. It is particularly galling that BAA allowed this aircraft to operate during the sensitive night period, albeit this aircraft type is not prohibited to operate at night under Department for Transport regulations.
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091, email@example.com