ICCAN calls on UK government to prioritise aviation noise post-COVID-19
As aviation experiences an all-time low, ICCAN has proposed to use the unique opportunity to address aviation noise once services begin to increase post COVID-19.
The UK’s Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has called on the UK government to make managing aviation noise a key priority in a post-COVID-19 environment, when aviation levels begin to recover and start to increase following the drastic decline in services as a result of the pandemic.
In a letter to Grant Shapps and Kelly Tolhurst – the UK’s Transport Secretary and Aviation Minister, respectively – ICCAN’s Head Commissioner, Rob Light, argued that the unprecedented situation the industry is currently experiencing should be seen as a chance to rebuild and regrow aviation in a more sustainable way.
Light said: “The decisions taken when rebuilding cannot be at any cost and this applies to the detrimental effects of noise on the public, as much as it does to climate change concerns.”
ICCAN believes that there must be a clear, consistent and transparent approach to noise mitigation and, as a result, the current ways of working must change. The advisory body is currently collecting and analysing data on aircraft movements, noise monitoring and attitudes around airports, as the drastic fall in aviation activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity to use data to understand the impact as such historic low levels of activity begin to increase.
Some communities living close to airports may currently be experiencing a period of respite due to quieter skies, but one of the expected consequences when aviation activity levels increase is that the noise will be more noticeable. Given the particular health impacts of noise on those communities, ICCAN believes that it is vital that noise management and mitigation is properly considered as activity levels begin to pick up.
In the letter, Light wrote: “When the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) published our first Corporate Strategy in the spring of 2019, we could scarcely have imagined the events to come and the impact COVID-19 would have on the aviation industry. I feel a great deal of empathy for the many thousands of people employed in the aviation industry and the uncertainty that lies ahead.”
The letter continued: “We see current events – and I write this with utmost sensitivity – as an opportunity for a re-think about the way aviation noise is considered when both strategic and operational decisions are taken about the future of aviation. In the understandable desire to rebuild aviation swiftly and efficiently, not being seen to prioritise aviation noise management is likely to generate a significant negative reaction from local communities. The public will need to trust that the rebuilding of the aviation industry – at whatever pace – is done in a sustainable way.”