Reps move to save airport host communities from noise pollution

Disturbed by the environmental hazards faced by communities where airports are located, the House of Representatives has passed a bill that will compel the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to cater to host communities.

Titled, a “bill for an act to Amend the Federal Airport Authority Act to empower the Authority to recognise the environmental hazard facing the inhabitants of the Nigerian communities around the Nigerian airports due to the noise pollution, air pollution, waste and congestion occasioned by day to day air operation in the airport around their various communities” is sponsored by Hon. Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson (APC, Lagos).

This bill, which has passed the second reading was first read on the floor of the House on June 20th,  2021.

The sponsor,  Hon. Ganiyu who was elated at the passage of the bill said noise and emission have always been the major environmental issue in the field of aviation; primarily impacting residential communities close to airports.

 

He said according to the World Health Organisation, “It can cause several health-related problems both in the short and long term such as community annoyance, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, heart disease, and mental health issues”.

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Speaking on the general principles of the bill, he said even though aircraft are becoming less noisy due to important technological improvements, the expected long-term increase in the number of flights (even after the COVID-19 pandemic) means that more effort from all stakeholders to reduce noise and emission in the airport’s surrounding areas will be crucial.

“Usually, people living in residential areas around airports are the ones who get affected the most by aircraft noise and emission and therefore they are also the ones who tend to suffer more often from these environmental hazards and are always hungry for quick solutions.

“The most common complaints are caused by increases in the number of flights, as well as night-time and low-altitude flights”.

He said “In addition to above-listed problems facing the people living around our airports is air mishap. It is a most traumatic and tragic one”

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He informed that in advanced countries, there are many regulations at different levels addressing these issues. “At the international level, for instance, limits for take-off and landing phases are set, while at European level best available technologies are promoted, and at the national level, limits for perceived noise and other measures are set.

“Nonetheless, this structure is quite complex and leads to difficulties for the citizens to ask for specific measures that need to be adopted. At the airport level, measures to reduce the annoyance of people living in their vicinity are also being taken. Such is the case of some European airports that are investing in research and development projects to improve the noise situation in their surrounding areas.

“In order to decrease annoyance at the vicinity of airports, operational (such as forcing aircraft to follow specific paths during approaches or take-offs) or passive measures (like sound-proofing or buying houses that are frequently flown over at low altitudes) are taken”.

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According to him, “It is a scientific fact that 80 percent of all plane crashes happen within the first three minutes of takeoff or in the last eight minutes’ prior to landing.

 

Aircraft positioning for take-off

“This is because during these phases the airplane is close to the ground and record has shown that most plane crashes in Nigeria happen not far from an airport.

“In fact, since 1925 when Nigeria made its inroad into the aviation industry with the first airplane landing in Lagos, the country has experienced over 50 serious air disasters, most of which happened around an airport.

“The first major air crash in the 81-year-old aviation industry was that of a federal government-owned VC-10 aircraft on November 20, 1969. It was flying in from London and crashed as it prepared to land at the then Ikeja Airport.

Wole Shadare