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Is aircraft noise from East Midlands Airport a nuisance to Rushcliffe residents?

Folllowing the recent report Aircraft noise impacts over Rushcliffe from East Midlands Airport flights to be considered at council meeting some councillors consider the aircraft disturbances as a significant issue for local people. 

East Midlands Airport is implementing extra measures to combat the “thorough nuisance” of aircraft noise for some Rushcliffe residents living under flight paths.

The airport currently has the largest dedicated air cargo operation in the UK.

It has grown significantly since 2001 when it was bought by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), leading to an increase in flights carrying freight and passengers.

Representatives from the airport attended Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Communities Scrutiny Group meeting on January 18 to discuss aircraft noise and flight paths, which may be changing under a plan called the Future Airspace programme.

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Cllr Matt Barney (Con), who lives under a flight path, told the meeting he acknowledged “the thorough nuisance the airport is to local communities”, but added he believed the airport listens to all feedback.

Aircraft noise is not currently a statutory nuisance in the UK, meaning local authorities do not have the legal power to take action against the problem.

But the airport, which sits near Castle Donington, close to the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, said it is taking measures to limit impacts on communities through a new ‘draft noise action plan 2024-2028’.

It introduces new action including a ban on the noisiest-rated aircraft at night, increasing the contribution to the East Midlands Airport Community Fund and ensuring noise charges on operators encourage the use of quieter aircraft.

There will also be a reduction of aircraft training flight hours between 8am and midday and 2pm and 6pm.

A sound insulation grant scheme will also reopen to residents who received a grant more than 20 years ago.

Cllr Barney is part of the Independent Consultative Committee (ICC), which holds the balance between the interests of civil aviation, passengers, residents in the local area and the environment.

He told the meeting: “The committee is made up of representatives from county councils, borough councils, but also some quite antagonistic groups who have serious axes to grind against the airport. I have to say the way the airport handles all of us is quite extraordinary.

“It’s not lip service by any degree.

“Having given that praise, I would like to speak as the ward member who lives closest to the airport and acknowledge the thorough nuisance the airport is to local communities.

“I have lived under the flight path for most of my life since I was six years old.

“The number of complaints I received as county and borough councillor were exacerbated enormously during Covid times.

“I was woken up frequently and it was a thorough menace. For some people still aircraft noise is a serious issue.”

Neil Robinson, Future Airspace director, Manchester Airports Group, said: “We’re not blind to the difficulties the airport can present particularly with night noise.

“It brings an awful lot too. The freight operation is a genuine national facility.

“EMA is a driver of local employment and economic value.”

Mr Robinson added that EMA’s community fund has donated £2.2m to community groups since 2002.

He said: “We have various schemes where we police the way aircraft operate, it is there as a deterrent.

“If they don’t they get a financial penalty and we put that into the community fund and donate it to local good causes

“We have built up noise monitors in local villages.

“If there are areas your constituents would like us to go and measure aircraft noise, we can make that part of a programme of work.

“We recognise that despite our best endeavours, people living particularly close to the airport are still facing a significant noise load.”

He added complaints about noise have “come down a lot in recent years”.

Rushcliffe Borough Council said it has not received any recent complaints about noise from the airport.

Cllr Carys Thomas, Cllr for Leake (Ind) added: “There’s a lot of housebuilding going on in East Leake and in other areas of the flight path as well.

“There’s quite a lot that can be done to lessen the impact.

“We get quite a lot of complaints about the aircraft noise. Typically, the people moving into nice shiny new houses get there and they’ve got all the aircraft noise.”

Mr Robinson said: “We have a sound insulation grant scheme which provides grants of up to £10,000 depending on where you live.

“Those people who got a grant the first time around are probably looking at their windows thinking that they’re ready for replacement.

“For the scheme, your house has to be built before a certain year.

“The reason we do that is we expect anyone who builds a new house in a high noise area to build it to a high standard and insulate it.”

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