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Airport expansion nightmare PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 July 2005 00:00
flybetail picThe news that Southampton Airport is planning a massive increase in passenger numbers will be a nightmare for many Bitterne Park residents, who are already putting up with a summer of relentless landings and take-offs over their houses, from early in the morning to late at night.

The airport says in its 'draft master plan', out for public consultation until 31 October, that it anticipates passenger numbers will increase from today's 1.5 million to three million by 2015 — and to six million in 25 years' time.

The plan has been developed in response to the government's white paper, ‘The Future of Air Transport’, which requires airport operators such as BAA plc, which runs Southampton Airport, to outline their 'vision for growth' up to 2030.

The airport stresses that the number of flights is expected to increase at around half this rate, and it thinks aircraft engine technology will make progress in noise and emission reductions during this time. It will also continue its ban on night flights: an agreement with Eastleigh Borough Council means that scheduled flights
currently stop at 11 pm. Flights start up into and out of the airport after 6 am, and after 7.30 am on Sundays.

Business organisations have welcomed the plans as a boost to jobs and the economy: BAA says by 2030 it will generate 4,000 jobs for local people and is predicting contributions to the regional economy of Ł260 million per year.

Noise hinders children's learning

But at what cost? In June medical journal The Lancet reported that children under flightpaths find learning to read harder, and they score less well in memory tests. The Lancet
concluded that chronic exposure to aircraft noise had "deleterious effects on reading comprehension", and that "schools exposed to high levels of aircraft noise are not healthy educational environments." (Read a summary on the BBC website)

According to an Observer/ICM poll also published in June, which interviewed over a thousand adults across the UK, most Britons believe that there must be restrictions on cheap air travel if the increasing problem of global warming is going to be tackled. Most felt the governement should be setting the agenda.

Climate change

John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, says on his website: "Over the time that the Airport plans to treble the number of flights, climate change will really begin to bite across the south coast making some low lying areas very vulnerable.  With all we know about climate change it seems very unlikely that the number of flights can possibly continue to increase without restraint.

"I accept the need for enough business flights to continue to attract employers into the area but I question whether the rapid growth in low cost flights can be sustained.  I know that the low-cost flights are popular and have created a lot of jobs, but there comes a time when we have to ask whether the damage to our environment can be afforded.

"I am also disappointed that no attempt has been made to mitigate the effects of any expansion on the people living under the flight path. Some simple things, like moving the runway to the north could make a real difference but have been ignored."

He goes on say that Southampton City Council should campaign hard to represent local people, and not let Eastleigh Borough Council take all the decisions. Meanwhile the June/July issue of SCC's 'City View' magazine trumpets the ever-increasing number of routes from the airport, and the fact that more airlines are joining "Southampton's success story".

The cost of success

The immediate cost of this success story, for Southampton residents who are stuck with increasing numbers of planes flying over our back yards and our community, will surely be a significant increase in noise from flights - even if FlyBe is replacing its noisiest aircraft and even if there is progress with technology in the future.

The draft master plan makes depressing reading for Bitterne Park residents, and we must oppose it.

Guy Phillips

More information & contacts

Below is a brief collection of contacts and links with background information. There are many more in our other article here.

Find out more!
Read BAA's press release about their plan

Download the plan from BAA's site - pdf file

For other contacts see our other article here.


What are 'emissions trading schemes' - the favoured approach to reduce carbon emissions - governement website

Why emissions trading schemes are gambling with our climate - article by Tony Berkeley, member of the House of Lords, in the Observer

More about climate change: the
Friends of the Earth's Big Ask campaign

Aircraft noise & schools in The Lancet
and reported in The Guardian

Aviation noise: background information and history from

Offset the carbon emissions of your flight by paying for the equivalent number of trees to be planted, at Future Forests, plus lots of further information on the subject



+1 #1 deborah 2005-09-12 23:02
Bitterne Park School educates over 1300 young people. In order to learn well pupils need to keep brains alert with an adequate supply of oxygen and to be able to hear. Triple glazing is only effective if you keep windows SHUT - not an option unless you want to asphyxiate in a classroom with 30 kids. Current flight paths, the report says, were calculated on a basis of annoyance to the smallest number of people - were 1300 children part of that calculation or were they just ignored? If you don't care about airport expansion for yourself, you should care for the young people going to school here. Please write to the airport and John Denham!
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0 #2 debbie 2005-09-21 07:28
I live under the flight path and since the introduction of flybe there is no such thing as a peaceful or beautiful summers day. I feel very strongly that a local airport should remain just that. Its not Heathrow.I have written to the airport before but they never responded to my letter. I write to John Denham who has been fantastic. We need to fight this but unless the aircraft directly goes over your property I think most people arent bothered until it affects them. I will write to the airport but will they seriously take any notice ~unless some important and influential people get behind the anti campaign.And how come Wichester overturned the flight path is their quality of life more important than ours?
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0 #3 kim1 2005-09-21 12:17
I went to one of the by appointment "open days" last night and it was basically a chance for Bitterne Park residents to tell 2 members of BAA staff how the plans would affect them but they did not make any notes and kept saying that we should put it all in our written response. It is important that we do all write in so that they cannot say that everyone in Southampton was supportive of the plans (probably the 98% of Southampton residents not in the flight path will be). We came away feeling that the plans would go ahead no matter what we did, but there is still the question of how Bitterne Park can be compensated when they do. The last open evening is 30 Sept but read the masterplan before you go because they're not actually discussing the details of it at the consultation, its basically a PR exercise.
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+1 #4 ys99x 2005-10-03 15:50
The noise problems started with the Flybe jets, I was personally unaware of any consultation with regard to the use of this particular aeroplane, at that time we started monitoring and complaining about excessive noise. In the end, calls we made to the airport were so frequent; we started listing the noisy flights and posting them. Last year it took a week to fill a page, now it takes a day! The flybe jets have now been joined by other carriers with equally noisy jets and our lives have become a misery.
There is no real representation for our case in the media as they receive advertising monies from Flybe and others.
The point is that the airport is too noisy now, and I can see only further misery if the expansion is allowed to take place.

My main concern is noise pollution, but there are other arguments

• The modern propeller operated aircraft have been shown to be more economical and environmentally friendly, and don’t have the mix of high frequencies which is so psycho-acoustic ally alarming, and yet Jets are becoming the norm.
• Aviation fuel is not taxed, so it has an unfair advantage over other forms of travel (this has probably lead to the demise of P&O Portsmouth)
• Hush kits are available for jet engines and yet they are not being used in the UK
• It seems the many are suffering so that the few can go to Rennes for £32. There are far more people affected on the ground than those flying above
• Recent research has shown that in real terms airports are actually detrimental to the local economy.

Go to the public meeting - if you do nothing you will only have yourself to blame.
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+1 #5 nick 2006-08-06 21:44
I live directly under the flightpath in Bitterne Park and have done for many years so do most of my family and a lot of my friends. I have spoken to all of them at one time or another regarding the noise caused by the planes overhead and we all agree that it is not the huge problem that some people seem to make it out to be, and if anything i hope the airport does expand so that i have even more choice of where i can travel to without having to drive to Heathrow or Gatwick.

As an economist i would be interested to know what research has shown that in real terms airports are actually detrimental to the local economy as this is absolute rubbish.
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