Putney already 'inside Heathrow noise zone'

The Quiet Con - the latest report from HACAN

The Government's 'noise map' which covers the area around Heathrow where ministers admit that disturbance from incoming aircraft is a problem should be extended to include Putney.

Last week the campaign group HACAN released a study showing how the Department for Transport (DfT) averaged decibel levels throughout a twelve month period to provide a totally unrepresentative measure of the real noise experienced on a typical day. Tony Colman MP for Putney has welcomed this new reportThe Quiet Con.

This is important for the Putney area which as residents are only too aware suffers from Heathrow aviation noise. Putney has, in recent years, always fallen outside the noise zone or 'contours' because its average exposure is below 57 decibels. The contours are important because they are used by ministers as a basis for their claims that areas outside the 57 decibel contour are not adversely affected by aircraft noise. They are also used in an attempt to persuade local residents that the noise climate is improving.

Put simply the larger the area covered by the contours the more people are judged to be 'officially' disturbed by aircraft noise.

The limits of the official "average mode" contours now exclude Putney. However if a more realistic approach were adopted which no longer included the periods when residents get some respite from aircraft noise, Putney would almost certainly be included. This would explode the myth that noise nuisance was easing.

Homes closest to the airport - with average noise levels above 63 decibels - are eligible for double glazing and other assistance. Most aircraft descending over Wandsworth are individually between 60 and 70 decibels.

Council leader Edward Lister said people in Putney were now saying what their neighbours in Kew and Richmond had been saying for years:

"Enough is enough. No one believes the DfT when they say noise is getting better. People in this part of south west London value their quality of life. They know that noise has been getting worse and now there are the figures to prove it.

"If the Government goes ahead and backs a third runway based on their own outdated and discredited noise assumptions they will be committing a gross deception for which people will not forgive them."

The cabinet is expected to rule before the end of the year on the locations for any new runways in the South East.

Local HACAN members will be in Putney High Street this Saturday (November 8) from 11am to 2pm to drive home the message that noise levels can only get worse with a third runway. HACAN will be collecting names for a mammoth petition from residents of south and west London which will be delivered to the Prime Minister.

The knock-on effect of an additional, shorter runway to the north would leave more of the bigger and noisier aircraft descending over Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney towards the two existing runways. There are also fears that an additional runway would open the door to an increase in early morning arrivals which wake up people across the borough from north Battersea to Putney.

Tony Colman has joined the new All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group. This is his latest step in his long running opposition to the expansion of Heathrow Airport. This group is seeking to inform the Government's Air Transport White Paper which is expected to be published by the end of 2003.

The All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group's Mission Statement is: 'To inform the UK Government about the range and scale of the local, national and global environmental impacts that the air transport industry causes and to participate in the debate on how best to control and reduce them, creating an environmentally sustainable future for those who work in, use and are affected by the industry's everyday operations.'

6th November 2003

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