Department for Transport
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New research into aircraft noise published

New research into aircraft noise published

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (149) issued by The Government News Network on 2 November 2007

An independent study of public attitudes to aircraft noise was published today by the Department for Transport.

The Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) study was conducted by external consultants MVA and underwent an extensive peer review process by an independent panel of leading academics and industry experts.

Two key conclusions emerge from the study. First, that people are more annoyed by all levels of aircraft noise than they were in 1985, when the last major study in this field was carried out.

Secondly, there is no identifiable threshold at which noise becomes a serious problem. Even relatively low levels of noise can cause some annoyance, which rises as the noise increases.

The Government will take these findings into account in developing air transport policy. However, as the peer review makes clear, the study could not provide a reliable way of attaching a monetary figure to the impact of aircraft noise.

Pending the availability of a better alternative, we will apply the existing valuation for road and rail noise when assessing the economic impact of noise in the cost-benefit analysis of future aviation projects. This is in line with the procedure introduced for road and rail last year.

Aviation Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"The Government accepts that noise from aircraft is a growing concern and will take into account those people affected by aircraft noise when considering the costs and benefits of future projects.

"The ANASE study also makes clear that it is impossible to identify any particular level at which noise becomes a serious problem.

"One interpretation of this is that Government could abandon the existing restriction on noise levels at Heathrow Airport of 57 decibels and above. But we believe it is right that we retain this as a safeguard for those who are most affected by aircraft noise. We have already said that any expansion of Heathrow must not increase the area where people experience the highest noise levels and this will be fully considered in the forthcoming Heathrow consultation."

While the peer reviewers recognised the "high standard" of the work underpinning the two key findings they did not feel that the valuations produced by the study were conclusive and specifically counselled against "...using the detailed results from ANASE in the development of Government policy."

Mr Fitzpatrick said:

"This report gives us a better understanding of the complex issues surrounding aircraft noise, but as the peer reviewers make clear, it does not give us the robust figures on which it would be safe to change policy.

"Our approach to a sustainable aviation industry remains the one we set out in the Air Transport White Paper in 2003 and the Progress Report of 2006."

Notes to Editors

1 The Department for Transport commissioned the ANASE research in 2001 from consultants MVA.

2 The work was peer-reviewed by Peter Havelock, Stephen Turner, Professor Graham Loomes, Professor Mark Wardman, Professor Ian Bateman and Dr Brett Day.

3 Their findings, and the study itself, are published on the DfT website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/environmentalissues/Anase along with a commentary from the Department's Chief Economist David Thompson.

4 A previous study, Aircraft Noise Index Study (ANIS) was published in 1985.

5 The Department for Transport will launch a consultation into possible future development at Heathrow Airport later this year.

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Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk