No Aircraft Noise News

2013 Volume 18, Issue 2 December 2013

Two important studies show airports bad for your health.  British Study published October 2013.   US Study published October 2013

They are likely to be the biggest ever investigation into the health effects of aircraft noise and they found that airports make people sick.

Major investigations in the USA and Britain found increased risk of heart disease in people affected by aircraft noise. The US study of 6 million people found a “statistically significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and the risk of hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases among older people living near airports.” The study was able to take account of effects from road traffic noise, air pollution and socioeconomic status to show the long term effect of aircraft noise on hospital admissions.

The British study said that “high levels of aircraft noise were associated with increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease for both hospital admissions and mortality in areas near Heathrow airport in London.”
A total of 3.6 million people living near Heathrow in 12 London boroughs and 9 districts west of London were studied. The study was dedicated to Dr Lars Jarup, who had led earlier research into the health effects of aircraft noise and initiated this study and who died in 2010.

Elizabeth Balsom emailed the British Medical Journal to say “I’ve come on to the website because I live in West Putney, under the flight path to Heathrow and, like my neighbours, am driven crazy by aircraft noise. Interestingly, the Heathrow expansionists’ noise contours seem not to include us, even though we are badly affected.”

“The same is true of Hammersmith/Fulham where I have experienced noise as a patient in Charing Cross Hospital. I recall one weekend in August 2011 when I was marooned in Riverside ward, unable to get discharged. Woken by aircraft noise, I dragged myself out of bed, hauling the drain with me, to check the time on the ward clock: 04.50. This is no way to live. Many object to being woken early. I think I find the noise most dementing at the end of the day, about 10.30 pm when I would like to get to sleep.”
Ms Balsom said, “I wonder if it is possible to quantify the cost to the UK of the negative health impact of aircraft noise, in terms of heart attacks, strokes and children’s impaired learning. Thank you for conducting the research. It is a relief to know my neighbours and I are not fantasising when we complain about the noise.”

Macquarie Bank gets out of Sydney Airport
Macquarie Bank is ending its 18.6% part ownership of Sydney Airport Holdings, the company with the 99 year lease on Sydney Airport. $1.4 billion worth of shares will go to the bank’s shareholders, with one Sydney Airport share for each bank share, as part of shareholders’ earnings.
Macquarie Bank is getting out of the airport because its holding ties up capital for relatively low future returns. The bank has dominated Sydney Airport’s management since organising the successful bid of $5.6 billion in 2002, when the Howard Government privatised the airport. Macquarie Bank took huge success fees out of the privatisation deal and the bank was even paid out $350 million to end its management of the holding company.
Politicians are now free to run airport policy without worrying about offending the bankers. However, Max Moore-Wilton, the chairman of Sydney Airport Holdings, who was John Howard’s Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, may still have good connections in the Liberal government.
What will Abbott and Truss do?
Nobody knows. All Tony Abbott promised to do before winning the Federal Election was to make a decision about a second Sydney airport during his first term of government. Nobody knows about Warren Truss, who is the National Party leader and the new Minister for Transport.
There are conflicts within the coalition on this and many other issues. Treasurer Joe Hockey represents the noise affected seat of North Sydney and has said he wants a second airport at Badgerys Creek. Unless the government directed some of the jets to use Badgerys, it would be an overflow airport, taking the excess from a continually expanding Mascot. Liberal and Labor governments have preferred to let the market determine these things. Unless Badgerys operates 24 hours, there would still be pressure to lift the curfew in the city.
Showing great complacency about the capacity limitations of Sydney Airport, Transport Minister Truss said he would wait and see what Sydney Airport has to say about whether a second airport is needed. The final Master Plan will be submitted for his decision in December. We know that Sydney Airport’s operators want to preserve their monopoly position and keep their high parking and other charges.
The do nothing option risks country flights being pushed out to the small airports of Bankstown or Richmond, leaving all the big jets in town. Looking after country access to Mascot is a National Party objective, with a number of slots in the peak hours reserved for the regional airlines.
Air pollution going up and up
The worst pollution from jets are the nitrogen oxides (NOx), which cause brown haze or photochemical smog in Sydney. The draft Master Plan by Sydney Airport says NOx emissions from aircraft operations would rise by 90% in 2033 to 4,550 tonnes per year.
Sulphur Dioxide from flights would go up by 86% to 368 tonnes per year. Volatile Organic Compounds go up 76% to 657 tonnes per year. Carbon Monoxide from flights is predicted to rise by 75% to 3,444 tonnes per year.
Sydney Airport says they produce only 0.39% of the NOx of the Sydney basin, but they are including Newcastle and Wollongong in the basin, which brings in the Hunter Valley coal fired power stations and the Port Kembla steelworks. This is a gross and inappropriate manipulation of the data.
The Third Runway EIS only counted aircraft emissions when they were on the ground and just after take-off or before landing. The draft Master Plan only includes aircraft emissions for the last 1,000 metres altitude while coming in to land, while on the ground, and for the first 1,000 metres of altitude when taking off. Not for the full emissions while the aircraft is within the Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong airshed.
The question not answered by Sydney Airport is what effect their emissions have in the area where planes are above the 1,000 metres measuring cut-off. Neither do they state how high the local pollution would be in suburbs immediately around the airport.

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No Aircraft Noise News is published several times per year. Contact us by email at ccnan (at) bigpond.com, PO Box 613, Petersham 2049, or phone 9564 0018.
Let us know what is happening about aircraft noise and pollution in your area.

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