might be forgiven for thinking that someone has it in for GA. The recent summary of responses to the DTLR consultation on
control of noise from civil aircraft is just the latest in a series of attempts to address
aircraft noise. It's not as if the same attention is being paid to other noise sources.
You don't hear of attempts to
restrict the type of trains that could run on a particular piece of track, or set a limit
on the number of vehicles that could use a stretch of motorway in any one day, or ban the
use of lawnmowers on Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoons (and if these sound familiar they
and other similarly draconian restrictions were being sought, fortunately unsuccessfully,
by S.Cambs District Council in its small airfields
The planning inspector
presiding over the appeal lodged by the decidedly rural Clutton
Hill Strip conceded that maximum noise from 2 tractors, 1 van and 3 cars exceeded that
of an aircraft taking off yet small, low-traffic-volume strips up and down the country
often have to fight tooth and nail at considerable cost in order to get applications (and
a disproportionately high number of subsequent appeals) approved. Hanley William, in an almost identical situation as
Clutton Hill, lost its appeal on noise grounds.
An often voiced grievance amongst pilots is the
pressure brought to bear on aerodromes as a result of local residents who live in
comparatively recently built homes next to established airfields. It does beggar belief
that people would move next to an active airfield and then complain about the noise.
Nevertheless the proliferation of noise abatement schemes (in the case of Elstree, four different schemes!) is testament to
many aerodromes willingness to accommodate local sensibilities where possible.
It's not as if it's being made easy for GA to
address the issue itself by controlling noise at source. The technical ability to fix
silencer kits to existing aircraft is undermined to a large extent by the costs of such an
exercise, particularly in an industry vulnerable to the economic cycle. The situation is
not helped by what many argue is a costly and overbearing certification requirement
mandated by the CAA.
Finally a review of existing guidance on the
options local planning authorities might exercise to ameliorate aircraft noise indicates
what we might expect to see in the future. Such guidance is contained in PPG24 Annex 4 under the
section titled "Conditions restricting use of an aerodrome or part of an
aerodrome". As you might expect from such an introduction the measures offered are
without exception proscriptive, taking the form of restrictions in numbers, types, and
times of movements. In this, as in the recent consultation paper, there is not one single
attempt to encourage or reward any efforts to control the noise at source. The departure
of a silencer kitted or modern quieter engined aircraft counts the same as the noisiest of
40's engined aircraft in those 40 movements allowed per day.
Where's the justice in that?
shall lie in respect of trespass or in respect of nuisance, by reason only of the flight
of an aircraft over any property...so long as the provisions of any Air Navigation
Order...have been duly complied with..."
Civil Aviation Act 1982
|The Civil Aviation Act of 1982, of which the above is an abbreviated extract,
lends a good deal of protection to aerodromes against complaints of trespass and noise.
The only point at which an anti-aviation lobby can exert an influence over the operations
of an airfield, either by restricting movements or enforcing closure, is at the planning
stage (hence the importance of local government planning to
|Anti noise protesters can make life difficult for airfield operators and users,
can obstruct future development of airfield facilities, and can provide a source of
support for anti-aviation lobbies and hostile authorities. The onus is very much on the
aviation community to present itself in a favourable light to the local community.
|Aerodromes designated under section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 are
required to provide facilities for consultation with users, local authority, and the local
community. Others may provide such facilities voluntarily as a way of fostering
understanding of and support for the aerodrome amongst the local community.
|Published in the summer of 1998, the government white paper "A New Deal for
Transport - Better for Everyone" has set the framework within which detailed policies
would be taken forward. One section deals with noise,
and makes the statement "We propose to take powers to enable airports to enforce
mitigation measures, for example by taking action against non-compliant airlines, and
to enable local authorities to enforce noise mitigation agreements". This has now
been formulated into the consultation paper
"Control of Noise from Aircraft". This paper sets out the ways in which the
government proposes to revise the current legislation relating to aircraft noise. They do
indeed suggest greater powers for local authorities to both agree and enforce noise
amelioration schemes at aerodromes. A summary of
responses was published in MArch 2002. See the Flyer magazine page on noise for further information.
|Some resources which may help in further understanding of the issue
|Noise and Planning
|The GAAC has produced an analysis of noise issues in relation to planning an
aerodrome, drawing some experience from hearings relating to existing aerodromes,
available in summary and detailed forms.
|More Considerate Flying
|The GAAC has also produced an article titled "More
Considerate Flying" to encourage the aviation community to be more aware of the
impact its activities are having on the local community.
|Govt Debate July 2001
|In July 2001 the MP for Maidenhead raise the issue of noise at White Waltham
aerodrome. Her question to the Transport Minister
gives an insight into the issues local residents have with aircraft noise and the
Government's current and future positions on this problem.
|A4A also supports this initiative, and one corner stone of our campaign is to
promote the idea of promoting airfields as a community asset.