Complaints of aircraft noise over St Albans

A ST ALBANS man who has lived near the Abbey for nearly 15 years is annoyed about noise from increased aircraft flying low over the city’s heart from Heathrow Airport during the past two months.

Neil Symonds, a part-time lecturer of Abbey View Road, told the Herts Advertiser he felt almost “under siege” from planes flying low and more often over the city centre recently. Just last Friday evening he heard five planes flying over the Abbey within minutes of each other.

There appeared to be a pattern with flights in the vicinity between 7am and 9am, 11am and 1pm, 4.30pm to 6.30pm and then again around 10.30pm.

He commented: “It goes in batches from 7am in the morning. I was walking down Fishpool Street and saw an aircraft flying above the line of the road by the Abbey.”

Neil said while aircraft flying at high altitude were “not a problem,” those flying closer to the city were “very intrusive.”

He went on: “I’m amazed at what I am seeing. You don’t expect a Boeing 747 flying over St Albans, when we are surrounded by open countryside. We didn’t move to St Albans to have planes over-flying the house.”

Neil said that having lived at his current address for nearly 15 years, and working from home, he noticed and was “sensitive to” changes in the environment. While he stressed that he “was not a moaner” and did not normally complain about such matters, he intended approaching Heathrow Airport about the noisy planes.

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In its draft noise action plan for 2010 to 2015, Heathrow admitted that noise from the airport was “one of the biggest concerns for people.” However the report said the airport had a “good record” of managing and mitigating effects of aircraft noise from Heathrow.

Mary Stevens, head of policy at Environmental Protection UK (EPUK), a prominent organisation trying to minimise air, noise and land pollution, said a major issue the aviation sector had to address was our “overcrowded sky.”

She said people not used to being overflown by aircraft were bound to be annoyed by them when routes were changed. This occurred with Heathrow flights as certain flight paths were used during part of the day, and then routes were altered at other times.

Mary said: “The question is, how to manage [flight paths] in the future. Do you have fewer flight paths over a smaller area, or spread the impact over a wider area?”

There are a variety of ways people can research and follow-up Heathrow aircraft noise problems including:

• Heathrow Airport has a noise action website. It shows where planes are likely to fly; has links to aircraft tracking maps; contact details; schemes to help and you can also log a noise enquiry;

• Also available online is Heathrow’s noise action plan for the next four years. The document has been submitted to the Secretary of State, who is responsible for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. It sets out procedures designed to manage the effects of air traffic noise, and shows how the major airport will prevent and reduce noise;

• Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) is a campaigning organisation which has a range of information on aircraft noise. Its website points out that Heathrow plane noise is not just a West London problem.

• Environmental Protection UK also has information on noise pollution: