Although the advances in the industry (more efficient and less noisy aircraft, mitigation actions, land use planning etc..) aircraft noise is still the most significant reason for the opposition of local communities to the new operations and expansion of airports. If not managed properly, noise disturbance and annoyance can have serious implications for the future development projects of airports.
Various published studies have noted that aviation noise may have harmful impacts on the health and psychological well-being of the people living near airports. Sleep disturbance and annoyance are the most common adverse effects of aircraft noise. More serious implications include increased risk of cardiovascular disease and impacts on children’s cognition and learning.
Regulations to control aircraft noise issues, however, also influence airport operations, may constrain airport capacity and could adversely impact flight efficiency. This could lead to additional fuel use and atmospheric emissions, unfulfilled profit potential and reduced economic benefits. Noise constraints can also trigger accelerated development of alternative new airport infrastructure to accommodate displaced demand elsewhere. Thus, the pros and cons of the noise implications for the quality of life for local people versus wider economic prosperity need to be transparently studied and fully understood, in order to reach – and ultimately maintain – a sustainable balance between differing imperatives.
Complaints, claims for compensation and monetary damages from plaintiffs due to aircraft noise nuisance can results in long and costly lawsuits for the airport, delayed permission for growth, along with negative press and publicity regarding the airport’s community engagement, corporate social responsibility and environmental management.
Moreover, existing airport expansion or construction of additional runways are a hot topic for debates between airport authorities, planning authorities, tourism businesses, governments, environmentalists and residents. Sustainability consultations and mediation processes launched between these parties are often high-profile, politically divisive and require robust, fact based technical studies regarding the future environmental impacts of the planned airport development. These studies need to meet agreed standards and be independent so that all parties can trust their outcomes.
Finding a Balanced Solution to Noise Mitigation
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has proposed the “Balanced Approach” comprising of four principal elements to mitigate aircraft noise impacts. These are:
- Noise reduction at source, i.e. making aeroplanes quieter
- Sustainable land use planning and management
- Noise abatement operational procedures
- Introducing operating restrictions
Selecting the optimum combination of options, however, requires noise modelling around airports for simulating current and future airport operations, plotting noise levels around airports and analysing the number and spatial distribution of the people affected.
Noise Impact Studies
For any type of expansion or operational project, an airport (big or small) needs to be prepared for potential debates between airport authorities and operational stakeholders, governments, lobbies and residents. In order to ensure the swift implementation of the planned project, fact-based technical studies not only help the consultations with the community and local government but also help to act in a smart way to develop the necessary mitigation actions.
Airports should know the implications in terms of noise impacts for scenarios involving:
- Traffic growth
- Airport expansion
- Operational options
- Regulatory requirements
- Land use management
To help airports pursue their growth in a sustainable way, community management and proper land use management must be implemented.
What are the key factors to manage noise?
Envisa recognises that the noise impact and environmental situation at each airport are unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We provide services to help airports manage noise issues by:
- Evaluating the current noise impacts (noise levels, population affected, etc.)
- Analysing the effect of airport expansion scenarios on noise impacts
- Understanding the operational framework, opportunities and constraints
- Assessing the present and future noise climate and reporting in meaningful language
- Quantifying the noise performance of of mitigation options
- Elaborating noise management plans
- Understanding and quantifying interdependencies including trade-offs
- Communicating on noise issues with local communities & public authorities
Envisa has a full noise and air quality modelling capability to complement its world class operational and mitigation advisory service.