This week, Sir Howard Davies of the Aviation Commission made a speech ruling out catering for unconstrained demand because that would not be consistent with the Committee on Climate Change recommendations on CO2. Yet while this may be the principal environmental concern amongst policy wonks, for Londoners on the doorstep its quite clearly aircraft noise particularly for those in the West London suburbs.
That’s not surprising given the numbers affected by aircraft noise on the flight approaches going into Heathrow airport where 28 per cent of all people in Europe affected by aircraft noise are living under the Heathrow flight paths. More importantly this week we heard about the ‘link’ between aircraft noise and stroke & heart disease deaths. In a report published in the British Medical Journal, a study of 3.6 million residents near Heathrow Airport suggested the risks were 10-20 per cent higher in areas with the highest levels of aircraft noise.
Such results clearly imply the siting of airports and consequent exposure to aircraft noise may have direct effects on the health of the surrounding population. We all know only too well of the nuisance aircraft noise can cause but news that it can contribute to deaths as well is a significant development. On the basis of this latest study Sir Howard Davies would do well to concentrate on aircraft noise’s environmental & health impacts in London as much as any other environmental concerns before making any final conclusions.