A new year message from Rob Light

Happy New Year from everybody at the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise. Before we look ahead to the coming year, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2019 and the important work we published in December.

At this point last year, I was the only ICCAN commissioner and a newcomer to the debate on aviation noise. Since then, we have built a full team of staff supporting a five-strong board of commissioners. I am proud of our ambitious Corporate Strategy, which maps our work for the first two years, and pleased by the positive way we have been welcomed by people in the industry, communities and beyond.

In December, we published our review of the Survey of Noise Attitudes, 2014 (SoNA). We prioritised this following feedback from stakeholders which identified SoNA as one of the major sticking points in the aviation noise debate. My team conducted a thorough review and concluded that a new more regular attitudinal survey is needed and that we, as the UK’s independent aviation noise experts, should lead it. We are now undertaking a development study to scope what the new survey should look like, with a view to the first one starting as early as next year.

I would like to thank those individuals and organisations who provided their expertise to assist ICCAN’s review of SoNA, and I am grateful for the positive responses we have received to our recommendations.

Spring marks the next important step for ICCAN, when we will release two highly anticipated publications: our view on noise metrics and measurements, and the way their use shapes and informs policy; and a consultation toolkit to support airports as they further develop and consult on future airspace change proposals. The toolkit will be particularly timely, as the modernisation of the UK’s airspace will alter the experience of aviation noise for communities around airports, so it is vital that people are informed and given the opportunity to have their say.

UK airports and the global aviation industry face significant challenges at the start of this decade. There will be a huge demand to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability in air travel. We are here to ensure that noise reduction is also recognised as an important environmental goal by supporting the exploration of links between noise exposure and the impacts on health. ICCAN’s aim is for the UK to be a world leader in the management and regulation of aviation noise. It is a bold ambition and we will set out part of our plan to achieve that when we publish our initial recommendations on the regulatory framework at the end of summer.

Fittingly, 2020 is the ‘International Year of Sound’ – a global initiative to highlight the importance of sound-related sciences and technologies. This reflects the growing interest in and thinking about the soundscapes we live in. I look forward to ICCAN playing its part by raising the profile of aviation noise as a form of pollution and working positively with others to manage and mitigate its effects.

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