| Press Release - 10 September 2009
AIRCRAFT NOISE MEETING PACKED TO OVERFLOWING
More than 120 people jammed into the United Reform Church Hall in Hatfield Heath last night (Wednesday 9 September) to attend a public meeting about tackling the problems caused by noisy planes taking off from Stansted Airport.
The villages of Hatfield Heath, Little and Great Hallingbury and Hatfield Broad Oak have been worst hit by new take-off procedures at Stansted since last year which mean that planes are lower and noisier for longer. Introduced by the no-frills airlines to save fuel, the noise from aircraft flying out of the airport is having an unacceptable effect on those who live beneath the flight path.
Meanwhile, the introduction of the Air Asia X Kuala Lumpur flights has caused further problems because of their noisy take-offs in the small hours of the morning which have already led to fines being imposed for exceeding noise limits. The disturbance caused by the latter is reportedly affecting communities beyond the Easters.
Chairing the meeting, Uttlesford District Councillor Mark Lemon who represents Hatfield Heath introduced a series of speakers including Stop Stansted Expansion's (SSE) noise adviser Martin Peachey and Cllr Peter Wilcock, both of whom sit on the airport's Noise and Track Keeping Working Group, local MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, and Andy Jefferson from BAA.
The packed hall - with standing room only - heard an explanation of the reasons behind the noisier take off practices and people were aghast that the airlines could make such changes without informing or consulting the local community. Even BAA had been ignorant of the new procedures until complaints started flooding in.
Local resident Jo Stewart had been amongst the first to call for action to be taken, aided by Cllr Peter Wilcock who intervened to help at an early stage. While she, like many others locally, accepted that some aircraft noise in the area was inevitable, the scale of the additional noise which she and others were experiencing was far from acceptable. There was also widespread frustration at the fact that BAA held no data on noise levels prior to the change of practices and introduction of the Air Asia X flights which, had it existed, could have served as a useful basis for comparison - and action.
SSE's noise adviser Martin Peachey was concerned that while technically the airlines were operating within the rules, international flight procedures for noise abatement require minimization of noise exposure for those on the ground while maintaining safety and do not include reducing fuel costs. "While reduced fuel burn helps reduce emissions, it should not be done at the expense of causing increased noise levels over the very small segment of flight immediately after take-off where noise abatement is the key criteria," he said, reinforcing the need for early action to address the problems.
BAA's Andy Jefferson said the airport operator was working with Martin Peachey, Cllr Wilcock and other members of the Noise and Track Keeping Working Group to resolve the situation. Amongst other things, BAA has agreed to introduce a mobile noise monitor in Hatfield Heath to measure current noise levels and, from April 2010, will also be trialling revised departure route arrangements within the approved noise preferential routes to overfly the fewest number of people possible.
Efforts are also being made to move the Air Asia X flight out of the core night period to before 11.30pm instead of 1.30am, and liaison with the Department for Transport will also be undertaken to explore the issue of the trade off between noise and emissions. A follow up review will be undertaken with BAA promising feedback to the community on progress.
Sir Alan Haselhurst made clear that he was monitoring the situation closely and that if acceptable solutions could not be found to persuade the airlines to change their practices then he would raise this within the higher echelons of government.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Technical background on the noise problems can be accessed in the Note to Editors of the press release which was issued before last night's meeting.
Further information and photographs are available on request from Carol Barbone on 0777 552 3091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Choose from the selection here.
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091, email@example.com