September 29, 2008

Call to Lower Noise Limit for Planes at Edinburgh Airport


EDINBURGH Airport bosses have been urged to bring in lower noise limits for planes after a system of fines helped cut the racket endured by people living near the flightpath.

Airlines currently face having to pay up to GBP 2000 if they breach noise thresholds while landing or taking off at Edinburgh Airport.

The technique pilots use, particularly when taking off, can make a big difference to noise levels - just like revving up a car engine.

In the 12 months before the scheme's introduction, around 30 aircraft had exceeded the threshold. But in the 12 months after, there were only three breaches - two by military aircraft and one by a passenger plane - resulting in three GBP 1000 fines.

The voluntary scheme has proved so effective that last year there were no breaches at all.

And now Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett believes there is an opportunity to insist on still lower noise levels.

He said: "The noise fining system introduced at Edinburgh Airport has undoubtedly helped reduce noise levels. However, things have moved on, and there are now legitimate concerns as to whether the limits are appropriate.

"Just because aircraft haven't been breaking the noise limits doesn't mean that there are not legitimate concerns about noise levels from local residents."

Mr Barrett said the current thresholds were set by ministers in 2000 and had not been altered since, despite technological advances.

"It is high time the Department for Transport tightened these thresholds to take account of the fact that aircraft today are significantly quieter than when these thresholds were originally set."

Trevor and Jean Nicholson, who live in Station Terrace, Kirkliston, said they have to keep their windows shut to try to keep out the noise of planes taking off and landing at the nearby airport.

"We live overlooking the runway and it can be quite annoying," said Mr Nicholson, 65. "Sometimes the noise wakes us up. And in the summer, when you want your windows open for some air, you can't."

A spokesman for BAA said Edinburgh Airport had voluntarily introduced the noise fining system two years ago.

He said: "The system of fining has been very successful. Our experience has been that the threat of a fine has been enough for pilots to try to avoid making excessive or unreasonable noise when they are operating from the airport."

No-one at the Department for Transport was able to comment.


Whisper - 30 decibels

Normal conversation - 60-70dB

Telephone dial tone - 80dB

City traffic (inside car) - 85dB

Train whistle - 90 dB

Subway train - 95dB

Level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss - 90- 95dB

Motorcycle - 100dB

Power saw - 110dB

Loud rock concert - 115dB

Gun blast - 140dB

Loudest sound possible - 194dB

Originally published by IAN SWANSON Scottish Political Editor.

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