House of Commons Library

Aviation noise

Published Monday, February 13, 2017

This paper briefly looks at the impacts of aviation noise on those who live underneath flight paths and close to airports and explains the various measures put forward to tackle noise pollution, including flight restrictions and charges; better airspace design, and quieter aircraft.

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Aviation noise is a source of constant annoyance to those who live under airport flight paths and for those subject to lower levels of disturbance caused by low flying smaller aircraft and helicopters. This form of noise pollution is explicitly excluded from general noise nuisance legislation.

The noise impacts of aviation on individuals and communities have been subject to a number of reports in recent years, some of which are summarised here. There have also been efforts to properly map and monitor noise, including the development of online live data sites which can be used by the public as well as industry.

Suggested measures to tackle noise vary from more controls and restrictions, to charges and better airspace and aircraft design. Some of these measures are exercised by international bodies and the UK Government while others are in the control of the industry – particular airports. There are also proposals for a new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN), which would help develop airspace and noise policies and act as a guarantee to local people that their noise concerns would be heard.

Finally, for those affected there is the possibility of compensation, particularly in the form of funds for insulation; there will be specific schemes, possibly funded by a new noise charge, at Heathrow should it receive planning permission to build a third runway.

This paper deals with commercial airports and aircraft. For those affected by the separate issue of nuisance from low flying and recreational aircraft or helicopters, information can be found in HC Library briefing paper SN4059. Information on other aviation issues can be found on the Aviation Topical Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN00261

Author: Louise Butcher

Topics: Aviation, Pollution

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