Tonbridge MP puts demands for action to Minister in Westminster’s aircraft noise debate

Pam Mills

Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat spoke to a ‘well attended’ Westminster Hall last week after he called for a debate on the impact of aircraft noise on local communities.

In addition, Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark and Wealden MP Nus Ghani were in attendance.

Mr Tugendhat opened the debate by making three demands from Robert Goodwill, Minister of State at the Department for Transport and responsible for aviation matters, on a number of points.

Among them was that the current ‘outdated’ legislation on aircraft noise should be ‘refreshed’, to take into account ambient noise, as well as the absolute decibel level. At present, 57 dB is the average level of daytime aircraft noise that marks the approximate onset of significant community annoyance.

He added the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should take noise disturbance into account and include communities not just 10 nautical miles but 18 nautical miles from airports.

There should also be a review of the angle of approach for incoming aircraft, he said, adding a steeper approach would, ‘protect heritage sites and communities in the glorious county of Kent.’

In response, the minister said it would require ‘significant’ pilot training and safety tests to change the angle of decent onto a steeper trajectory and the government was committed to the 57 dB benchmark.

He also failed to address the issue of requiring the CAA to take into account the noise impact on communities as far as 18 nautical miles from the airport.

A spokesman for Tunbridge Wells Anti Aircraft Noise Group condemned the minister’s insistence on retaining the current noise standard of 57 dB, calling it: “Discredited, utterly inadequate, out of date and no longer fit for purpose.”

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