British activists conference receives minister: report

 AirportWatch / AEF Conference on 18th June - notes and key points 

Comment by Daedalus on more silent planes:
When talking about growth for the industry (read= more flights), we consider that noise is not the only factor but also frequency of flying.

Daedalus made the following scientific observation:


Replace 9 A300 planes from 95,5 dBa (11,5 QC) by MORE silent planes of 'only' 90 dBa in such a number that they produce as much dBa as the 9 noisier ones.

The total quantity of noise (dBa) produced by 9 nightflights (measured with laeq-norm) and the total quantity of flights with the HIGHER FREQUENCY should be identic. The number of more silent planes to produce as much dBa as the 9 A300 is 31.

When do you sleep best?*

 9 x 95,5 dBA
Chance to wake up A300: 9x 95,5 dBA: 37%
 31x 90 dBA
Chance to wake up 31 x 90 dBA: 84%
Only 5,5 dBa less per plane but with higher frequency to obtain the same total of dBa gives 47% more chance to wake up. 


* Source: W. Passchier-Vermeer (TNO)

AirportWatch and AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) held a shared conference on Saturday 18th, to debate the government's aviation Scoping Document, and the process that has now been started to formulate new UK aviation policy.

 We were fortunate to have a number of civil servants who attended the conference for the afternoon session, and the Aviation Minister, Theresa Villiers, also attended part of the afternoon. This was the first time an Aviation Minister had spoken at one of our conferences, and expressed her hope that it would not be the last. 

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Friday 24th June

We had an excellent conference on Saturday, staged jointly by AEF and AirportWatch.  Over 70 people attended.  In the afternoon this included several officials from the Department for Transport, DEFRA and the Environment Agency.  And, of course, aviation minster Theresa Villiers addressed the conference at the end, took questions and in all spent over an hour with us. 

 Two of the morning presentations are available at 

Below are some of the key points I thought came out of the conference.
  1. The Aviation Scoping Document is moving policy in the right direction.  It is talking about growth but within environmental and quality of life boundaries.
  1. There is a thread running through the Document that the industry will be allowed to grow if it can produce quieter and cleaner planes.  There is a strong belief in technology, possibly coming more from Secretary of State Phil Hammond that Theresa Villiers.
  1. Maybe the biggest theme to emerge from the conference was that we might end up with two-tier approach to aviation.  The final aviation policy will set out an overall framework but it will concentrate on the larger airports; it will devolve the planning responsibility for the smaller and medium-sized airports down to local authorities in line with its policy of localism.  It is unclear how much guidance local authorities will be given when considering aviation growth in their areas.  Government doesn�t seem to have thought this through fully.  Theresa Villiers acknowledged at the end that this was the main point she would take away from the day.  We need to do some work on the connection/disconnection between the Government�s aviation and localism agendas. 
  1. Both Theresa Villiers and the civil servants (possibly prodded by the Minister) understood the need to update policy on noise:  how it is measured; where flight paths should go etc.  I think this is our opportunity to press them to update a noise policy, most of it still based on research done 30 years ago after the previous Government rejected the ANASE Study.  This should include noise from general aviation and helicopters.
  1. Mid-July will be when we hear more about climate change when the Government will respond to the Committee on Climate Change�s recommendations.  It does seem, though, from what the civil servants were saying, that there will be little about radiative forcing.
  1. The final point is related to the third one.  The Government has done some thinking on the importance of aviation to international business connectivity.  It was not at all clear that it has through the relation of aviation to regional connectivity � for example, are the airports which have lots of flights, driven by the desire of UK residents to holiday abroad, actually the places where business wants good links?  Jeremy Birch, who has done such excellent work for us on tourism, will start to look at that point. 

Finally, we hope to have a number of papers and briefings ready by mid-July for you to make use of when responding to the Scoping Document Consultation, which ends in September:


       A briefing on climate change

       A paper on the tourism deficit

       A paper on �who flies�

       A paper on noise and health

       A paper on noise

       A paper comparing international business connectivity of key UK airports with �rival� European airports


John Stewart

Chair, AirportWatch

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