Heathrow Airport, Runway 3 Noise
Chris “failing “ Grayling today announced the go ahead for the third runway at Heathrow. Perhaps it was to deflect his failings within the rail sector in his role as transport minister, who knows? But we here at Soundstop want to look at the implications and ramifications for all the residents who will be affected by noise. The government has announced a series of packages contained in this document, a paper that is as clear as mud. The most relevant detail is placed towards the end. It reads:
“Under the scheme, homes in the designated zone closest to the airport with higher levels of noise (the inner zone) would have the full costs of their noise insulation covered by the airport. Up to £3,000 in noise insulation would be offered to homes further away from the airport (the outer zone).
We propose that a third party assessment, free of cost to homeowners, would be made to determine the extent of each home’s needs within the eligible insulation zones. Our insulation package could include:
Acoustic double glazing in windows;
Ceiling over boarding in bedrooms; and
Loft insulation and ventilation.”
We here at Soundstop, like so many others, believe that the scale of disruption and noise to residents who live around Heathrow, will be immense. More residents than ever before will suffer. While the design of aircraft over the last few years has made them around 50% quieter on departure, the frequency of flights is going to increase dramatically. According to a government analysis, when Heathrow builds the third runway, more than 2 million people will be exposed to additional aircraft noise.
Major airports are, however, under a legal obligation to develop strategic noise maps and produce Noise Action Plans based on those maps.
BAA has signed up to a scheme that offers free double glazing to mitigate noise. Hounslow council believes it is nowhere near enough – particularly for local schools who have already been deprived of vital renovations when Labour’s schoolbuilding programme was scrapped by Michael Gove. The cost of properly soundproofing children’s classrooms for the Borough’s 60 schools under the flight path is something Hounslow says it cannot, and should not have to, pay for.
The bottom line is that unwanted aircraft noise will cause misery to many more people than ever before.
Here at Soundstop we have experience in reducing the suffering and annoyance caused by unwanted noise. That’s our business, and we can help.
First and foremost, you need to look at your windows. Realistically speaking these will be the major failing point for most people. It is important that you think about triple glazing, not just double glazing. But in reality, with the very heavy bass frequency sound that an aircraft produces, the better bet is to install a secondary glazing unit,ideally at least 10cm in front of the existing unit, which will cope far better with bass frequency. From a cost perspective, secondary glazing units run at around £500 per window. The drawback is that some of these secondary units mean that window opening is tricky so you will need to think about installing air-conditioning units.
For residents much closer to the flight path they will also notice that sound will be coming through the upstairs bedroom ceilings. This is particularly the case where the ceiling leads onto a simple loft space that is not insulated and the only protection from the aircraft sound might just be be the tiles on the roof. In these cases, you will need to increase the mass of your ceiling.
A simple project would be to add insulation ideally dense insulation in between the joists above. Here we recommend at a very minimum 45kg mineral wool slabs, but better still 60kg mineral wool slabs. This will help with thermal conductivity leaving your house warmer in the winter as well. The joists can then be overlaid with chipboard and ideally a layer of acoustic plasterboard over the top.
Where this isn’t possible dues to access to the loft, you will need to think about soundproofing the ceilings. This isn’t as hard as one would imagine. We have a number of possibilities but the most effective and mess free method is to use the genie clip system which is described on this page. Taking up minimal space it will make a very significant difference to the sound that will be coming though what is often a very thin ceiling.
People also think that walls are an issue. In practice a well-built brick wall will offer reasonable noise protection. For this reason, we recommend the insulation of walls to be done only after addressing the windows and ceilings.
Please let us know your thoughts and any suggestions on where affected residents might turn to seek relief from the anticipated noise of runway 3.