Monday, 27 August 2007

Aircraft Noise: A Significant Risk to the Public in Kent

Airport expansion should be stopped on public health grounds. A large amount of research indicates damage to the intellectual development of children exposed to high levels of aircraft noise (1). The World Health Organization has recently emphasised "the striking contribution of noise to premature deaths from disease" (2). Kent Green Party is calling for airport expansion at Lydd, Manston, Biggin Hill, Heathrow and elsewhere to be stopped on public health grounds.

Steve Dawe comments: “If a household was guilty of the prolonged loud noise of typical aircraft late at night, its inhabitants could expect a visit from the Police. However, if noise is made from the overflight of aircraft, those disturbed by it are not protected by law. Instead, aircraft may disrupt our sleep and make our working days more difficult, with the most serious effects upon children’s concentration and ability to learn."

“Since we already know that aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe as well(3), the noise factor provides another reason to curb airport expansion. Kent Green Party will continue to argue for minor airports like Lydd and Manston to be converted to leisure uses and housing. People have a right to sleep and a right to be able to peacefully live and work without major noise disturbances. We will continue to press decision-makers to withdraw the £9 billion subsidy to civil aviation each year and to protect the public from irresponsible aviation expansion.”

1. Children are a high-risk group vulnerable to the effects of chronic aircraft noise exposure. Birmingham Airport anti-noise group: See also: S. Stansfeld, M. Haines, & B. Brown (2000): Noise and Health in the Urban Environment. Reviews on Environmental Health 15, p43-82; M. Haines, S. Stansfeld, R. Job, B. Berglund and J. Head (2001a): Chronic aircraft noise exposure, stress responses, mental health and cognitive performance in school children. Psychological Medicine 31, p265-277; M. Haines, S. Stansfeld, S. Brentnall, J. Head, B. Berry, M. Jiggins & S. Hygge (2001b): The West London Schools Study: the effects of chronic aircraft noise exposure on child health. Psychological Medicine 31, p1385-1396; M. Haines, S. Stansfeld, R. Job, B. Berglund & J. Head (2001c): A follow-up study of effects of chronic noise exposure on child stress responses and cognition. International Journal of Epidemiology 30, p839-845.

2. Noise and WHO: as reported in:

3. S. Cairns and C. Newson Predict and Decide: aviation, climate change and UK policy Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, 2006; European Federation for Transport and Environment & Climate Action Network Europe Clearing the Air: the myth and reality of aviation and climate change, 2006.

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