9th September 2002

New maps reveal the true level of devastation promised by airport development

More than 70 towns and villages and the lives of more than 50,000 people will be blighted by ‘intolerable’ aircraft noise if the Government gives the go-ahead to its plans for the expansion of Stansted Airport. Launched today by Stop Stansted Expansion, a new map uses the Government’s own figures to name the towns and villages that will fall within the 393 square kilometre ‘intolerable noise zone’.

Stretching from Clare in the North to Harlow in the South and from Stebbing in the East to the Pelhams and Hadhams in the West, the area includes many of the most beautiful villages in the South East of England as well as the market towns of Bishop’s Stortford and Dunmow. According to Government figures, only 92 square kilometres of land and 13,000 people currently fall within the zone.

However, according to the campaign group these figures significantly underestimate the noise problem. A second regional map shows a wider area which the campaign claims will become an ‘intrusive’ aircraft noise zone. Towns in this intrusive zone include Braintree, Chelmsford, Dedham, Epping, Hertford, Hoddesdon, Saffron Walden and Sudbury.

“I’m afraid these maps confirm the worst views of many thousands of people”, said campaign chairman, Norman Mead. “The number of people living in the intolerable noise zone at the moment is 13,000. Even without any further homes being built, some 50,000 people will be affected if the Government gets its way – although these figures assume all sorts of improvements in aircraft technology. If these proposals do go ahead, those people who now enjoy relatively low levels of airport noise will experience levels of noise currently found only in the likes of the Hallingburys, Broxted and Thaxted.

“Even worse, the Government’s figures seriously underestimate the severity of the problem. Intolerable noise calculations are entirely based on theory and not practice. Firstly they take no account of ground noise whatsoever. Secondly, maps provided by BAA themselves show that the problem of overflying is much more widespread than Government figures would have you believe. This problem can only get worse – partly because as our skies get more and more crowded aircraft will be forced to use a much wider area for take off and landing, and partly because new air traffic control initiatives will allow aircraft to use more varied routes into and out of the airport. Lastly they take no account of the fact that we live in a rural area – 54db of aircraft noise around Heathrow is considered to be as intolerable as 54db of aircraft noise around Stansted, despite the fact that around Heathrow there is a lot more background noise to drown out the aircraft.”

“We know that these maps will make depressing reading for many, many people, but hope that it will encourage them to make their voice heard in this so-called consultation process. We need as many people as possible to write to the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, to sign the MPs’ petition, to put up posters and stickers, to encourage their schools to run classroom projects involving children in the campaign, and to encourage all of their friends and neighbours to do the same. We have to show this Government that its plans are illogical, old-fashioned and poorly thought-out and that they will not be tolerated.

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits