Heathrow noise complaints distorted?

A news website has reported that Heathrow noise complaint statistics may be being distorted by automated complaining.

Business Travel News reports that Heathrow received 94,114 complaints last year, a number described as “staggering” by MP Zac Goldsmith in an interview with the Evening Standard. This was a five-fold increase over the previous year.

However, according to Business Travel News, these complaints were submitted by just 8,458 different individuals – 11 complaints per person. Further more, they report, the most prolific 10 complainers made 18,903 complaints, with the top making nearly 4,000 each – around ten a day.

Business Travel News say that some 28,577 complaints were received from 37 complainers who used computer software to send complaints automatically when aircraft where scheduled to fly over them. However, they omitted to change the timing on the software when the clocks went back in October, and began sending complaints one hour before the planes concerned took off.

This concentration and manipulation of the complaint system would certainly produce a distorted view of the real scale of noise nuisance around Heathrow.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Last year 8458 local people contacted us to register a complaint about aircraft noise but at the same time 65,000 local people signed up to the Back Heathrow campaign for Heathrow’s expansion. Reducing noise is a key priority for Heathrow but as recent polling shows, more local people back a third runway because of the jobs and careers it would bring, than oppose it because of noise.”

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