BY TOBY PORTER
Residents living near the London Heliport in Battersea are being subjected to noise levels that could pose a risk to their health.
That’s the conclusion of a to monitor noise levels near the heliport over a five-month period.
The study, commissioned by Wandsworth and two other councils and carried out by acoustics experts at London South Bank University (LSBU), found residents living close to the Thames in the boroughs of Wandsworth, Fulham and Chelsea are routinely subjected to noise disturbance that exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended limits.
The report’s findings have now sparked calls for the heliport to do more to limit the impact its operations have on communities.
The findings have prompted the leaders of the boroughs to urge the Mayor, transport ministers and the Civil Aviation Authority to work with them in co-ordinated efforts to resolve the noise problems caused by the heliport.
The original consent was awarded by the Greater London Council in the 1970s and means there is nothing that can be done to curtail the site’s operations under planning laws.
The heliport’s planning permission allows it to operate within limits set on opening hours, a daily cap of 80 movements a day, and an annual limit of 12,000 movements.
This allowance does not include emergency or military operations.
The authors of the report concluded that noise generated along the heliport landing and take-off flight path are at levels that could cause medium risk of adverse health effects on affected residents due to long-term noise exposure.
The report lists a number of recommendations including attention being given to new planning applications and the inclusion of balconies in future residential developments.
This would ensure that noise impacts from the heliport are assessed in line with national planning guidelines.
It also points out that The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had advised the Battersea Heliport Consultative Group that there was no statutory requirement for London Heliport to prepare a Noise Action Plan (NAP) because of insufficient data on helicopter noise performance.
NAPs are designed to manage noise issues and effects arising from aircraft departing and arriving from, specific airports.
The report concludes results of this study may now provide an opportunity to develop a UK model for a heliport NAP.
Leader of Wandsworth council, Councillor Ravi Govindia, said: “This study is the first evidence of the impact the heliport is having on residents living along the Thames.
“The report’s conclusions – that the noise levels being generated are likely to impact on people’s health – are very concerning.
This affects residents living across three boroughs and the study shows that, despite the introduction of a new, less noisy, helicopter fleet at Battersea, there are now hundreds, if not thousands of residents, regularly being impacted by noise at or above the operating threshold.
“We call upon the Mayor, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Government to work with us to find a more sustainable solution.
“Under the Mayor’s current Draft London Plan, it is proposed that planning permission for any new heliports is refused.
We do not believe that is fair as it means that our residents are having to bear the brunt of having the flight path from London’s only heliport going over their heads.
“It is obvious that relocation of the Battersea Heliport is the only right solution but the Mayor’s draft London Plan has failed to grasp the nettle but there is still time for him to change his mind.
“He added: “In the meantime we call on the heliport operator to do more to curb its impact and also work with us to improve this situation.”
The owners of the heliport the Reuben Brothers were asked for a comment but refused.
The CAA failed to respond at the time of going to press
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