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STRICT NEW NOISE LIMITS FOR BIGGIN HILL AIRPORT

  • Noise Action Plan confirms new maximum noise limit for the first time 
  • Airport delivering on promise to reduce the previously agreed noise footprint by 50%  
  • Local residents will be able to monitor progress online. Noise plans reviewed every five years

 

Residents will be able to track every flight, read the height and  monitor the noise, making it easier to hold the airport to account

Residents will be able to track every flight, read the height and monitor the noise, making it easier to hold the airport to account

For the first time since it opened in 1917, Biggin Hill Airport will introduce a defined noise limit for aircraft operations.  As promised during the consultation on opening hours, it is half that previously envisaged by the Council’s 1997 Unitary Development Plan.

Earlier this year, over 30,000 local residents backed a proposal for slightly longer airport operating hours in one of Bromley’s largest ever public consultations. Councillors also backed the plans in principle, subject to the introduction of noise mitigation measures.

Biggin Hill Airport has now formally submitted its comprehensive package to tackle noise, which delivers the promises it made to local residents. It will come into force if the Council give the green light to extend airport operating hours.

Working with the Council and its noise experts, Cole Jarman, over the last six months, the airport has prepared the new noise limit based on forecast of aircraft movements. As promised during the consultation, this will be no more than 2010 levels – around 50,000 annual movements by 2020 (with a movement defined as either a take-off or landing). To put that into context, in the 1980’s there were 200,000 annual movements.

The plan will be reviewed every five years, and a new state of the art Noise Monitoring and Track Keeping System (NMTKS) will mean that Councillors and local residents will be able to track every flight and see clear information about noise levels in real-time. Such comprehensive NMTK systems are normally only found at much larger airports.

There will also be tighter controls on light aircraft, which are the subject of the many noise complaints, including the no-fly zones already introduced along with bans on circuit training before 9am and after 5pm on summer weekends.

Will Curtis, Managing Director of Biggin Hill, said: “This plan sets in stone the promises we have made, and gives residents certainty that Biggin Hill will remain a small, well managed airport with modern noise monitoring that will ensure it remains a good neighbour.

“Airports our size are not normally required to put in place measures like these, given the high costs involved and the fact we are comparatively much quieter than larger commercial airports. However, we have listened carefully to our local residents, who support longer opening hours but want to see environmental protections as part of the package.

If longer hours are approved by the Council we will be able to generate the investment needed to deliver these protections. By voting for this package, councillors will be delivering more jobs for Bromley and new noise protections that residents do not have today.”

NOTES:

  1. The five year Noise Action Plan (NAP) sets a noise envelope based on an air traffic forecast of around 50,000 annual movements by 2020.
  2. Noise is officially measured by averaging out the noise levels during the day (a 16-hour day) during the summer period. The amount of noise is given in decibels (dB). This averaging-out means that the day’s high and low levels are levelled out to give a single figure. The Government calls this averaged decibel measurement ‘LAeq’, and this is the most common international measure of aircraft noise. As a measurement, it means ‘equivalent continuous noise level’.
  3. The Biggin Hill NAP goes a step further by measuring noise specifically in the early morning and late evening period, so that noise during the extended hours can be properly measured and controlled.
  4. The noise limits are set by using a ‘contour’, which is a map showing the area where the noise levels are experienced at various decibel levels. The official starting point for measuring how noise affects people is 57 db LAeq. Under the NAP, for example, the expected noise contour by 2020 at 57 db LAeq during the summer daytime is an area of 2.9㎢ – the largest it is expected to be at any time of day, and at any decibel level. By contrast the previously agreed contour is some 8.7㎢, representing a significant reduction in the noise footprint.
  5. The new maximum noise footprint will be set at 4.35㎢, however the NAP forecast does not anticipate that noise levels will reach this limit.
  6. The Noise Action Plan has been written in consultation with Bromley council officers and their noise consultants Cole Jarman, who are engaged to advise the Council on airport noise issues. The final draft has now been formally submitted to Bromley Council.