For those who live with the constant noise of planes flying over their homes, sleeping and resting is sometimes a literal problem. To minimize this impact, ANA Aeroportos de Portugal wants to run a soundproofing program to protect and isolate older houses, schools and hospitals from noise that sometimes goes beyond legal requirements.
This measure is part of the noise protection plan for Humberto Delgado Airport 2018-2023 – but only approved by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) last year – and sees, as the chairman of the ANA Executive Committee, Thierry Ligonnière, explains, the noise protection work in front of buildings who are directly affected by aircraft noise at night, on their landing and take-off routes. The official spoke last Wednesday at a meeting of the Environment and Quality of Life Commission at the Lisbon Municipal Assembly about the petition “Portela Airport: We want to be informed and heard about its impact”, which the services will provide in 2019.
The number of houses to be operated has yet to be determined. However, the program provides for only “particularly sensitive” buildings in Lisbon and Loures to be covered, e.g. B. Schools or hospitals that were built up to 2002, or houses or apartments with a housing / usage license issued up to 2004 and whose sound insulation is poor. The high level of noise can affect sleep levels, the cardiovascular and neurological systems, and also affect school and work performance.
After the meeting, ANA told the PUBLIC that the program should be developed between 2021 and 2023 and that it will have two phases: a first for those properties that are most exposed to night noise and where levels reach 65 decibels (dB). This is the value that the Noise Act defines for daily emissions. If we talk about night time, this limit generally drops to 55 dB and in sensitive areas, e.g. B. in hospitals or schools, to 45 dB.
For the second phase, which is to take place from 2022, the apartments will be operated by residents with night-time noise of 60 dB. According to the ANA, an “investigation into potentially eligible buildings, the characteristics of the current insulation and the definition of standard solutions” is still being carried out and it is not yet possible to advance the number of buildings to intervene with. However, the airport manager has already identified 22 buildings for devices in particularly sensitive areas such as schools, universities and hospitals.
In practice, the intervention involves placing double glazing and arrangements in the blinds of bedrooms and living rooms. The idea is to move the project forward in the second quarter of this year, Thierry Ligonnière said, but there is still a need to define the “conditions” that determine who can access the soundproofing program. They are currently being “validated by the Portuguese Environment Agency”, notes ANA.
Another issue that is still under investigation is the funding of the program. According to the airport manager’s executive president, “these measures must be financed by a polluter source”. For this reason, ANA has already put forward a proposal to “Establish an Aircraft Mitigation Fund for Environmental Impacts”, which applies the principle that airlines should support at least part of the program. However, these “contribution criteria and the respective model are still under development”. Currently, the airport manager says the “Fund will receive an initial allocation from ANA” but should not be funded by it. “ANA is not an airline,” said Ligonnière.
During the same meeting, Thierry Ligonnière admitted that there were “violations” but argued that there needs to be “some flexibility” in terms of landing and taking off flights at night, as there are flights that go through ” Weather phenomena “are conditional”. “You [voos] Ocean liners are sometimes delayed or awaited. There is this kind of uncertainty in civil aviation. That flexibility is needed, ”he said. On the other hand, there are other companies that depend on their operational organization and their markets, forcing passengers to leave Lisbon “at five or six in the morning” in order to be able to arrive in time for connections from airports in Amsterdam or Paris . exemplary.
In July 2019, the environmental association Zero presented noise measurements in Campo Grande, which found that the legal limit for the night period of 55 dB was exceeded for some moments and the number of night flights was also set higher. Although the law stipulates that there is no noise during the night, an exemption was introduced in 2004 (Regulation No. 303-A / 2004) which allows 26 movements per day to be made between midnight and 6 a.m. up to a maximum of 91 per week, with the “approval of air movements during this period, depending on the noise levels of the aircraft used”.
In March 2020, Zero repeated the measurement and came to the conclusion that the noise legislation in the Campo Grande area was being complied with. The reason was obvious: the flight movements at Portela Airport had decreased significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
To ease the pressure on Portela, the chairman of the ANA Executive Committee again defended the importance of progress in the construction of Montijo Airport in the hope that traffic registered in 2019 will reach the same level in 2024 or 2025. “We think this is very important to move forward [com a opção Montijo] for the relief of the residents of Lisbon in 2024, 2025 ”, Thierry Ligonnière underlined.