Compromise is all very well when it comes to marriage vs divorce, career vs family or that dream holiday vs one you can actually afford: but compromising when it comes to airports in very densely populated areas such as London and the South East means prosperity vs. poverty, tranquility vs. cacophony and quite literally – it means health & life vs disease & death for many millions of people.
Governmental pussy-footing and short term policy developments aka ‘compromise’ has resulted in London being completely ring fenced by airports. No one could have designed a system more capable of exposing every single citizen to serious aircraft noise and the highest possible levels of burnt jet fuel contaminants.
Thanks to a resident from Penshurst, here’s how consolidation and flight path dispersal has worked for both business and the general public in Australia:
‘Sydney airport noise management Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport processes an average of 36 million passengers and 500,000 tonnes of airfreight annually. 88 Positioned on the northern shoreline of Botany Bay, New South Wales, it is the only major airport serving Sydney. It is a primary hub for Qantas and secondary hub for Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways. The airport has three runways, the third of which, parallel to the main runway, was opened in 1994. Public concern over aircraft noise quickly escalated resulting in a 1995 Senate Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in Sydney. The Select Committee identified many deficiencies in the way in which aircraft noise information had been conveyed to the public through the reliance on the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) System (broadly comparable to the Leq system) in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Third Runway at Sydney Airport. The additional noise metrics of PEI (Person Events Index), AIE (Average Individual Exposure) and N-contours, all of which are detailed in Chapter 3, were brought to prominence in response to these findings.
A feature highlighted with the new ways of describing noise was that certain populations received much higher noise doses than other populations. Significant public engagement led to Sydney adopting the principle that noise sharing should be prioritised at the expense of total exposure, i.e. AIE should be minimised at the expense of increasing PEI – spreading the noise around more people.
A Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP) was adopted in 1996 to implement this change.
A key feature of the plan is the runway rotation system, involving 10 different ways/combinations of using the Airport’s three runways and associated flight paths (known as Runway Modes of Operation), to provide as far as possible individual areas with periods of respite from aircraft noise. Noise sharing modes must be used at the airport (except when weather or unusual traffic conditions prevent this) during the weekday hours of 06:00-07:00, 11:00-15:00 and 20:00-23:00. Longer noise sharing hours apply at weekends.’
Incidentally, Austrailia has very stringent restrictions on the number of night flights (unlike in the UK). Night flights are considered to cause too significant a burden on the general population in terms of disease.