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Stop Stansted Expansion experts highlight impact of aircraft noise in British Medical Journal

Martin Peachey (13017059)
Martin Peachey (13017059)

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published an article about the health impacts of aviation noise co-authored by two expert Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) advisers.

Professor Jangu Banatvala, a resident of Henham who advises SSE on the health impacts of aircraft noise and pollution, and Martin Peachey, a Takeley resident whose expertise is in the field of aircraft noise impacts, worked with distinguished German cardiologist Professor Thomas Műenzel of the University of Mainz.

The article, titled "The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action", drew heavily upon new guidelines on environmental noise published in October 2018 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

These new WHO guidelines, which took five years to complete and were compiled by worldwide leading experts, set out specific recommendations to safeguard the health of the population at risk from aviation noise impacts.

The BMJ article says there has been a reluctance to protect the health of the population in the face of commercial pressures pursuing economic benefits.

The 2018 WHO report highlighted studies conducted in primary schools near airports where children are subject to high levels of aircraft noise where there was shown to be a negative effect on their reading and learning.

Studies near Heathrow have shown that double glazing classrooms is insufficient for noise insulation. Additionally, recent studies in west London have shown that atmospheric pollution results in diminished lung development among children.

The experts argue aviation noise should not be considered in isolation. Atmospheric pollution engendered by an increase in road traffic in the vicinity of airports is likely to act in conjunction with aviation noise to induce pulmonary disease in children experiencing low air quality.

They also highlight the findings from studies conducted in Europe and the UK which have shown that aircraft noise has substantial effects on cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Aviation noise, particularly at night, causes increased blood pressure as stress hormone levels rise.

A major recommendation is that the threshold aircraft noise limits are reduced to 45dB during the day and 40dB at night compared to the previous WHO guidance of 55dB and 45dB respectively. These recommendations present a challenge for the aviation industry. Stansted Airport's current noise impacts are in excess of the new WHO guidelines.

Jangu Banatvala (13017061)
Jangu Banatvala (13017061)

Prof Banatvala and Mr Peachey have been members of the SSE executive committee for many years and want local authorities involved in airport planning decisions, like Uttlesford District Council, to scrutinise the WHO report carefully and take account of its recommendations.

They warn the "cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable".

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