Airport noise in South Africa – Prediction models and their effect on land-use planning
Thesis (DPhil (Geography and Environmental Studies))—University of Stellenbosch, 2007.
The use of average energy aircraft noise contours as the sole means for guiding aircraft noise-based planning around airports is being questioned increasingly. A growing proportion of residents who live in neighbourhoods adjacent to airports are dissatisfied with the averaging procedure that is employed. In their experience of exposure to aircraft noise, particularly in the evening and at night when they are at home, the average energy aircraft noise descriptors are misleading. In order to effectively analyse the socio-spatial interaction of annoyance at and interference by aircraft noise, an alternative approach has been suggested – a supplemental noise perspective. Conventional approaches to aircraft noise land use planning based on average energy noise descriptors run the risk of being ineffectual, or even counterproductive, because they do not consider the central aspects of disturbance, namely the loudness of an event and the number of times events are heard. Consequently, an alternative measure to ameliorate the limitations of average energy noise contours is needed by which airport neighbours, the aviation industry and town planners can better understand the nature of the problem. Although supplemental noise analysis is not new, this study applies it to a South African international airport (OR Tambo) for the first time. The airport’s operations are typical of many busy airports close to large urban areas, serving domestic, regional and international routes. Reportedly, there have been few complaints about noise emanating from the airport, but when they are made they are usually about evening and night-time aircraft noise events. In the context of South Africa as a developing society in transition, where growth of urban settlements continues apace, average energy aircraft noise information must be enhanced by providing supplemental noise information. This study investigated the broad issue of land use planning around airports by employing two aircraft noise prediction models, namely the Integrated Noise Model and the Transparent Noise Information Package, to establish the various potential effects and consequences of night-time aircraft noise in noise zones demarcated according to supplemental aircraft noise information. The effects and consequences examined include annoyance, disturbance of sleep, telephone conversations, watching television and work or study, and the likelihood that people will move away to escape night-time aircraft noise. The perceptions of residents living in neighbourhoods around the airport were surveyed and the responses analysed according to noise zones classified as supplemental noise information. The results show that the airport’s neighbours are annoyed by aircraft noise and that aircraft noise interferes with normal household activities. This annoyance and interference decreases with increasing distance from the airport. Furthermore, reported annoyance and interference is greater in those areas where higher numbers of noise events are encountered, even at relatively low noise levels of 60 LAmax – something not evident from average energy noise contours. This finding strengthens the argument that it is insufficient to provide only average energy aircraft noise information when studying the impact of aircraft noise. To understand the situation more fully, supplemental noise information is essential. The study concludes with a framework constructed to apply supplemental aircraft noise information to the abatement and mitigation measures normally used to deal with aircraft noise.