Ministers criticised in plane noise row

GOVERNMENT ministers have been accused of “watering down” proposals to control aircraft noise which is blighting communities across Suffolk.

GOVERNMENT ministers have been accused of “watering down” proposals to control aircraft noise which is blighting communities across Suffolk.

Complaints about noise from passenger jets has been steadily increasing - and with plans for new runways at Heathrow and Stansted, the number of aircraft on flightpaths over the county will double in the next 20 years.

At times on the Felixstowe peninsula the noise is a constant background drone, with the sound of one plane passing over merging with the arrival of the next.

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is disappointed government is set to shirk new European rules for controlling aircraft noise by passing the responsibility on to airports.

The issue should have been dealt with two years ago, but the deadline was missed and fresh consultation has now been carried out by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

An AEF spokesman said: “Since aviation is exempt from noise nuisance claims, local communities have no legal protection from excessive aircraft noise, and must rely either on the goodwill of airport operators or on local or central government regulation of airports' noise impacts.

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“External regulation of aircraft noise would therefore seem to be essential if the UK government is to have any possibility of meeting its aim to 'limit and, where possible, reduce noise impacts over time'.

“We are disappointed, therefore, that the general aim of the proposed amendments appears to be a watering down of any commitments from central government to ensure that communities have some protection from noise.”

The federation felt airports would argue the imposition of noise-related operating restrictions will leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Consultation on the new regulations was completed this week and Defra is analysing responses.

Is noise from aircraft getting on your nerves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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