|As We See It -- March 2008|
Since we went live twelve months ago our site has received many supportive registrations, all representing intrusive helicopter noise problems. We have become attached to the Aviation Environment Federation where we met representatives of the Greater London Assembly and others concerned with aviation noise generally. Here's some of what we've learned over the past year, and how we see things now.
When we first thought through our Aims and Objectives we took great account of the short shrift given to MPs who, in the past, had the temerity to draw attention to the noise problem suffered by their constituents when they asked questions of the Aviation Minister of the day.
We believed that to disabuse such Ministers of the notion of "hearsay" and "anecdotal evidence" we needed to collect actual data relating to real people who would stand up and be counted via an online audit of the nuisance caused by helicopter noise. We appeared to receive endorsement from the Greens on the Greater London Assembly.
What we've seen is that our Aims have been adopted by these latter and finessed into a study for the CAA by DEFRA. Such a study into the effects of helicopter noise will be without merit unless data is collected that reflects the true extent of the impact of this intrusive noise.
We reviewed the excellent document produced by the US' Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in 2004.
The results were obtained with pinpoint accuracy, detailing noise recorded from different helicopter types, at differing heights, in both take-off and landing modes. Two weaknesses of this report lie in a) the small amount of first-hand data collected from those overflown, with respondents numbering sub-200, and b) the wishy-washy results recommending that heli-operators and residents groups work together through joint consultation to reduce the number of people affected (ring any bells?).
Now, if the DEFRA Study gets this far it will have duplicated, at quite some Quango-expense, the FAA Report of 2004.
Our Aims, believed by us to be achieved in partnership with the GLA, have been subsumed into a DEFRA exercise - kicked into the long grass in other words. We believe that no pressure will arise on MPs to back any limitation on helicopter movements as a result of this exercise. After all, who bites the hand that feeds them?
We see pockets of intense activity associated with Wycombe Air Park, East Midlands Airport, Harpenden/Luton, Biggin Hill and Fair Oaks, as well as continued disgruntlement in those London Boroughs affected by the Heliport at Battersea, and helicopter overflights around Heathrow and Stansted. We do not yet see any offers by operators to reduce helicopter movements.
Please bear with us as we formulate our own Noise Audit. Oh, and keep on registering.