Call for airport operators to take responsibility for aircraft noise over St Albans and Harpenden

A Ryanair plane at Luton airport

A Ryanair plane at Luton airport - Credit: Archant

Groups campaigning against noise pollution from Luton Airport met with a council scrutiny committee to discuss the impact of “intolerable” aircraft noise on residents.

Representatives from LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), STAQS (St Albans Quieter Skies) and Harpenden Sky gave evidence to a scrutiny committee from St Albans district council, which also heard from the operatives at Luton Airport.

The committee made three recommendations to the council’s Cabinet, which will consider them in its next meeting on Thursday, June 22. The first was to write to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), advising them that the new navigation system, RNAV, introduced by Luton Airport over the past two years has failed to meet its environmental objectives.

According to the campaign groups, the RNAV system has concentrated aircraft noise over north St Albans, south Harpenden and Sandridge, and there has been a threefold increase in noise complaints made to the airport between 2015 and 2016.

Sharon Hollingsworth, of STAQS, said: “For people who have been affected by RNAV and other changes Luton Airport has made in recent years, life is becoming intolerable.

“It’s not just the annoyance and sleep disturbance that come from huge numbers of aircraft all hours of the day and night. Aircraft noise has also been linked to stroke, dementia, heart attack, mental health problems, cardiovascular problems, effects on children’s ability to learn and an 86 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”

The committee’s second recommendation to Cabinet was to set up a group of councillors, residents and experts to keep a ‘watching brief’ on issues with the airport. The final recommendation was to lobby the CAA and the Department for Transport to speed up the airspace change programme.

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Andrew Lambourne, of LADACAN, said: “Summoning Luton Airport’s operators to be accountable for this issue is a really important step.

“There has been a significant increase in the impact of noise on residents living close to the airport’s main departure route, and the airport needs to be taking more action to mitigate the impact on these communities.

“We welcome the strong stance the council has taken on this issue, and look forward to working with them to improve the situation for those whose lives are being blighted by excessive aircraft noise.”