Airlines Ranked On Noise Pollution

Bosses at Britain's biggest airport are to rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are as part of a "quieter Heathrow" plan.

Heathrow chiefs also want to significantly increase fines for airlines that break noise limits and to trial new plane departure routes with air traffic controllers.

Other plans include the proposing of steeper approaches by planes into the west London airport and the establishment of a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow.

Heathrow already encourages airlines to reduce plane noise by imposing higher charges for the noisiest aircraft and reduced charges to the quietest ones.

The airport's chiefs said today they will be proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits .

Then, later this year, they will launch a "Fly Quiet"' programme which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise performance at Heathrow.

Part of the future plans could also see the installation of "adobe" structures for schools in the area.

These are igloo-like shelters constructed from bags of earth and plaster which allow pupils to study outside without being disturbed by aircraft noise.

Heathrow already part-funds adobe buildings at Hounslow Heath Primary School.

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said:

"Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.

"We will continue to work with airlines, (air traffic control company) Nats, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise while safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides."

John Stewart, chairman of Heathrow residents' group Hacan, said:

"These measures are welcome and will improve the noise climate for residents.

"But all the good work could be undone if a third runway was built , and the huge increase in flight numbers would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring."