The world's biggest airlines are taking the British government to court over its noise limits at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted.
The court action is backed by the International Air Transport Association, with the amazing claim that the strict noise limits would mean that Heathrow would lose its place as London's main airport -- that place being taken by Paris or Madrid!
The new limits would force passenger aircraft to be at least three decibels quieter during the day and emit only 87 decibels at night. According to Friends of the Earth (FOE) London, the limits are not strict enough to prevent increasingly widespread disturbance across the whole of London and South East of England.
British Airways is leading the court action. Chief Executive Robert Ayling -- a close friend of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair -- says that the measure would cut British Airway's profits by one-third, that it is technically impossible, and would mean having to fly with fewer passengers.
FOE London argues that the suit proves a point it has been making at the public hearings on a new terminal for Heathrow Airport: British Airways has no intention of sticking to any noise limits promised by airport operators if the airport is given permission to expand.
Paul de Zylva
Friends of the Earth London Local Groups
26-28 Underwood Street
Hackney, London, N1 7JQ
Tel: 0171 566 1678
Fax: 0171 490 0881