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Aircraft Noise In Dry Drayton

An introduction to the issues by Richard Littlewood




In February 2022, the aircraft stacking routes for Stanstead and London Luton Airport (LLA) were separated, resulting in increased noise over many South Cambs villages from planes flying into Luton. This change, known as “air deployment 6” (AD6) has also resulted in increased use of the airspace more generally.


Dry Drayton has been particularly badly affected because many planes are now flying around Cambridge and using Bar Hill as a visual reference point before turning towards Luton at 8000 feet or lower. At busy times this can result in a plane flying over Dry Drayton every 1-2 minutes. Many of these planes also use air brakes at this point, resulting in a louder screeching sound. Flights are occurring at all hours, including late at night. Worryingly, the current levels of noise are likely to increase significantly due to air traffic levels returning to full pre-pandemic levels and, longer term, because LLA is planning a large expansion. It is also likely to be more noticeable outside of winter when people are outdoors and there are more holiday flights.


Individual sensitivity to this noise varies, for some it is just mildly annoying, but it can also cause a range of adverse effects on physical and mental health. Aircraft noise is very noticeable in a rural area with previously low levels of ambient noise and fundamentally degrades the environment, upsetting residents who were attracted to the area because of its quietness.


Although there was a consultation process, many issues have been raised concerning its objectivity. Information originally provided during the pandemic, when attention was elsewhere, has proved to be misleading. Furthermore, LLA and the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) have a vested interest in adopting the changes, but these bodies are also running the "Post Implementation Review" due to complete in September 2023. If unopposed, this review will result in the Civil Aviation Authority accepting the changes as permanent. All this means the time to raise concerns is now.


Our MP, Anthony Brown, has been active in campaigning against the new routes and recently held a debate in parliament on this subject which can be viewed on his website (https://www.anthonybrowne.org/). Other groups are also now actively campaigning against the change, including the facebook group RELAS (Reject Luton Airport Stacking, https://www.facebook.com/groups/relas.ad6), which anyone is welcome to join. A public meeting to discuss the issue was held at 19:30 on Thursday 23rd February at Little Gransden Village Hall. Slides from this can be viewed on the RELAS website, https://www.relas.uk, along with additional information such as maps of affected areas and information on how to ensure your opinion is counted.


The main way that residents can influence the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to mitigate the effects of AD6 on local communities is by emailing one or more complaints. These will be considered as part of the ongoing review process. In short, complaints can be emailed directly to noise.enquiries@ltn.aero but should then also be copied to other interested parties such as your district and parish councillors (see https://www.drydrayton.net/politics.asp for addresses), your MP (anthony.browne.mp@parliament.uk), the CAA (complaints@caa.co.uk) and NATS (public.enquiries@nats.co.uk). Complaints can also be made directly to LLA using their website (http://travisltn.topsonic.aero) which gives recorded flight data on a map. This is useful for identifying a particular noisy flight. If using LLA's website, it is recommended to take a screenshot and also send an email to the parties listed above. If you feel strongly, you could also arrange to meet your MP at a surgery by contacting his PA (jamie.newgreen@parliament.uk). Further information on how to effectively complain is also available on the village website (https://www.drydrayton.net/pdfs/complaint.pdf) and the RELAS website.

I would encourage all concerned residents to bear in mind that this problem will only get worse and make sure their voice is heard before September 2023. There is then reasonable hope that AD6 is abandoned or modified to reduce the effects of noise pollution. Improvements may include adjusting approach routes, spreading out planes and changing altitudes or operating times. However, if unopposed, LLA expansion is likely to result in far higher noise levels than those currently experienced in the years to come.