Year on year both the government and aviation industry have hand-in-hand argued that fewer people are affected by aircraft noise, and that planes are getting quieter. Try telling this to two and a half million people who live under Heathrow’s flight paths, or the 300 residents in South Manchester currently claiming compensation from the airport.
Although the planes themselves may be slowly improving in terms of the level of noise they create individually, the increase in the sheer volume of flights has collectively made the problem a lot worse.
Noise pollution is often viewed as a mere inconvenience of airports, and air pollution seen as the real heath concern, but recent studies have begun to reveal the health implications of living near to a busy airport. Academic studies have now shown a proven link between aircraft noise and heart attacks, increasing the risk of those who live near to airports by as much as 30%, which has obvious implications for the NHS. This increase has been linked to the heightened stress levels, disrupted sleep and high blood pressure associated with continual exposure to aircraft noise. The problem is regarded by the World Health Organisation as so severe that it has recommended that noise levels at night do not exceed 60 decibels; however it’s interesting to note that if this was adhered to in London then all night flights would be out of the question.
In addition to the health impacts of aircraft noise, studies on school children across Europe have revealed that it impairs children’s reading skills and due to disrupted sleep inevitably affects the productivity of those who live and work around airports and their flight paths.
If you’re a local resident near Manchester Airport who wishes to complain about noise from aircraft, you can do so here.
The HACAN briefing sheet includes more information about the effects of noise and the flaws in noise measurement.