Health fears over Glasgow Airport flight path

Kilmardinny Crescent, right under the flightpath. Emirates plane from Dubai 'Photo by Emma Mitchell'4/11/13
Kilmardinny Crescent, right under the flightpath. Emirates plane from Dubai 'Photo by Emma Mitchell'4/11/13

The roar of aircraft noise could be endangering the health of people in Milngavie and Bearsden ‑ and they should be compensated.

That’s the claim made by MSP Gil Paterson following a recent medics’ report which suggests that the din of aircraft engines leads to a spike in heart disease.

Mr Paterson wants Glasgow Airport bosses to look at alleviating the problem for people who live under their flight path.

This could include compensation which would be used to pay for better sound-proofing to homes.

The MSP spoke out after a report in the British Medical Journal compared data on aircraft noise with hospital admissions and mortality rates among 3.6million people living near Heathrow.

Incidences of heart disease and stroke were found to be 10-20 per cent higher in areas with the highest levels of aircraft noise.

Mr Paterson, an SNP MSP, has campaigned to have Glasgow Airport which, through owners BAA Scotland, is self-regulated, brought into line with English airports which are regulated by the government.

He has written to airport MD Amanda McMillan outlining his concerns.

In his letter he states: “The information gathered from this article would suggest that airports in London, owned by your parent company Heathrow Airport Holdings, have a policy of mitigation of the effects of noise by providing double glazing and sound insulation for those residencies affected by this problem.

“Also, your parent company is taking substantial measures to restrict aircraft movements ‘to give people predictable periods of respite from the noise’.Since your parent company accepts that it has a responsibility to act to protect the public from the noise from aircraft at their English airports, I believe you have the same obligation to protect those who live under the flight path in Bearsden and Milngavie who are of course my constituents, many of whom have contacted me regarding this issue.”

Mr Paterson (pictured) also wants the night flying restrictions on noise levels currently laid down for BAA airports south of the border to be extended to Glasgow.

He said: “This research and many other important studies shows the significant link between ill-health and aircraft noise and is extremely alarming. People living in this area have had to put up with excessive noise for years, but Glasgow Airport management has turned a blind eye to them.

“Residents north of the border should be offered the same protection from this company as those living in England – that seems obvious and fair. I urge Ms McMillan to look at this matter again and take immediate steps to bring the airport policy in line with those in England.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow Airport said: “We are aware of Mr Paterson’s strong views on the airport and the impact of aircraft noise.

“However, without wishing to belittle his views in any way we do not believe it is valid to compare Glasgow with Heathrow.

“The two airports differ in many ways.

“Heathrow handles large volumes of traffic – more than 70 million passengers in 2012 – and a huge number of residential properties are located in very close proximity to it.

“To suggest that Glasgow Airport, a single runway airport with a fraction of the traffic of Heathrow, should adopt all the same noise mitigation measures as Heathrow would be disproportionate.

“Glasgow Airport does however take the impact of aircraft noise extremely seriously as we grow our business responsibly in a manner which balances the positive economic and social benefits of the airport with some of the more negative effects, such as noise.

“A series of measures are in place to manage noise.

“These are outlined in our Noise Action Plan, which is currently being updated and was recently subject of a 12 week public consultation period.

“Given Mr Paterson’s concerns about the impact of aircraft noise - and his stated desire to protect his constituents who are affected by it - we are therefore surprised he does not appear to have taken part in the consultation, which provided an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to contribute constructively.”