Disruption from Luton Airport planes is like sound of thunder, says St Albans resident

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 August 2016

An aerial view of St Albans city centre as seen from an easyjet flight from Luton airport to Amsterdam, Netherlands in October 2015.

An aerial view of St Albans city centre as seen from an easyjet flight from Luton airport to Amsterdam, Netherlands in October 2015.


Living in parts of St Albans is now “like living within one quarter of a mile from a runway” according to a resident who is fed up with plane noise from Luton Airport.

Peter Crowder is fed up of plane noise after Luton airport changed their flight paths.Peter Crowder is fed up of plane noise after Luton airport changed their flight paths.

For nearly two decades Peter Crowder has lived in relative peace in the city – until the detrimental combination of a huge rise in passenger numbers and flight path changes introduced by the airport one year ago.

On August 20 last year, Luton made a change to its westerly departure corridor, affecting the Clacton/Dover/Detling (Runway 26) flight routes.

It promised that the introduction of RNAV1 - area navigation - technology would enable aircraft to fly the route centreline more precisely, drawing aircraft away from densely populated areas, with the proposed, narrower route passing between Markyate and Flamstead, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead, as well as St Albans and Harpenden.

However, with more planes flying over parts of St Albans Peter, who lives in Lancaster Road, north central St Albans, said: “My family is very badly affected by this change. The noise throughout the day, evening and night is incredibly intrusive. The noise from each jet can last up to 50 seconds – the sound of loud rumbling thunder and a ripping/tearing noise before it eventually tails off, just in time for another jet. At peak times we get two within a minute.

“The experience is similar to living within a quarter of a mile of a runway. Batchwood, New Greens, Marshalswick and Jersey Farm areas of the city are being directly overflown too. These planes are flying nowhere near the centreline between Harpenden and St Albans as was promised.”

Peter said that “being overflown by a jet plane at around 5,000 feet with engines on full thrust is no laughing matter, especially in a built-up urban area where the noise reverberates off buildings. We have lived in our house for 18 years and this has only started happening since this flight path change.”

Because he was so fed up with the noise, he started studying the movement of Luton’s planes at length, spending weeks logging aircraft in a farmer’s field in Sandridgebury Lane.

Peter said: “You can see all the aircraft that take off on Runway 26 from Luton Airport from here, and swing around and then fly over St Albans.”

A Luton representative recently joined him in the field but Peter was not impressed with his feedback.

He explained: “He did not have any special equipment. He seemed to be basing his whole opinion on the Flightradar24 app on his mobile phone. He barely paid attention to the sky – just tapped away on his mobile.

“The first alarm bell rang when I got the impression from him that he thought that the centreline was Sandridgebury Lane railway bridge. It isn’t, it is Cheapside Farm railway bridge.”

Peter, who asserts that aircraft are “cutting the corner of the noise preferential routes [flight paths]”, said that Cheapside Farm railway bridge was on the centreline of the new flight path as it crossed the railway, and was over one kilometre north of where he had been spotting planes.

He added: “Our problem is not that we are directly overflown, but that we are now severely affected by aircraft noise; this now applies to the rest of north St Albans. We believe this contravenes government policy. It is time for the authorities to start listening to the residents of St Albans.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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