Noisy Heathrow in Concorde cover-up

What a surprise. The findings of long-awaited release of the ANASE report, exploring the noise from Heathrow airport, has been rejected by the Government as, apparently, it "does not give us the robust figures on which it would be safe to change policy".

The Government has said that expansion at Heathrow can only take place if it can be done without increaseing the number of people affected by aircraft noise. As more planes from more runways is pretty dammed likely to cause more noise, the DfT has started playing silly buggers with the measuring.

The World Health Organisation suggests that noise becomes a nuisance at 50db, findings echoed by the ANASE report. Ever contrary, the DfT is sticking to its 57db levels, modelled from a study in the 1980s. It blames the shift in people's reaction to noise on them being more sensitive to noise...

But in preparation for the upcoming consultation on NOx and noise levels, they have begun refining the acceptable noise levels and the means by which they measure them. Apparently the expansion can now only take place if the number of people affected by 57db noise is no greater than those affected in 2002 - when Concorde, the loudest aircraft in commercial operation, was a regular sight in the skies above Heathrow.

Since Concorde was retired in 2002, taking its noise with it, the area affected by noise fell accordingly. The Government plans to use this reduction to create lebensraum for the increase in flights from the third runway to grow into. This is particularly underhand, as Concorde's noise pattern tended to be short and sweet, not a constant all-day roar that the massive growth in short-haul flights from the proposed runway will create.

The road to expansion is paved with broken promises, and every step the Government makes forces them to twist their words in a desperate attempt to steamroller through popular opposition. It is time for them to own up - the coming consultations will be nothing more than a rubber-stamping sham. This may satisfy the residents of Whitehall, but the two million people who will see their homes invaded by the constant drone of budget flights will be looking for scalps well before the first drop of tarmac gets laid...