Life on the flightpath, noisy nuisance for Her Majesty

Life on the flightpath, noisy nuisance for Her Majesty

Back in Queen Victoria’s day, the garden at Frogmore House in Windsor was a tranquil haven.

But, according to our present-day monarch, all this has been destroyed by the rise of technology.

In a special message for the 70th anniversary of Gardeners’ Question Time, Queen Elizabeth moaned about the impact of the Heathrow flight path on the historic retreat.

“I very much hope you have enjoyed visiting Frogmore House and garden, which holds a special place in my family’s affections,” the Queen said in a pre-recorded message for the Radio 4 programme.

“Indeed, I would echo the sentiments of Queen Victoria who, 150 years ago, wrote of this dear lovely garden where all is peace and you only hear the hum of bees, the singing of the birds.

“These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.”

Her speech included an audible backdrop of planes overhead.

Noise from above

The Queen has raised a valid concern – one which is an irritant to her but can have devastating consequences for people who live closer to an airport than she does.

After all, plenty of studies have revealed that being exposed to constant loud aircraft noise may face an increased risk of a range of health conditions – from stress and sleep deprivation to cardiovascular disease.

One study by the British Medical Journal looked specifically at the health of people living in the vicinity of Heathrow airport and found those with the highest exposure were 10-20% more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack.

A linked study of the health of more than six million Americans over the age of 65 living around 89 airports in the US found that, on average, their risk went up 3.5% for every extra 10 decibels of noise.

The issue continues

The UK Noise Association is calling for a number of different approaches to help reduce airplane noise pollution, including introducing quieter planes, improving operation practices – in particular periods of respite for residents, and a tax to cut the number of short-haul flights.

But meanwhile, pressures and expansion plans are seeing airports get bigger and flights becoming most frequent.

Top of the controversial developments plan to create a new runway at Heathrow Airport.

Debate on this is likely to be reignited after it was announced this week that a public consultation into the plans would be reopened to include new evidence.

This comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) published a series of new reports on the environmental impact of expanding the west London airport.

It also revealed that London’s airports are expected to hit full capacity by 2034 if there is no expansion.

The consultation will now be reopened until December.

The DfT insisted it is “on track” to publish final proposals for expansion in the first half of 2018, ahead of a vote in Parliament.

Heathrow is not the only airport looking to expand.

Gatwick airport is still lobbying hard for its own proposed second runway.

Helping Queen and country

While our barriers work for building sites, they can also be installed to help reduce the impact of aircraft noise long-term.

Our certified acoustic barriers have long been used to protect communities from unwanted noise generated from roads, railways and airports.

So if airports continue to grow – bringing increased noise pollution with them – it might be worth the authorities considering how best to screen residents from any excess noise in this way.