A state-of-the-art soundlab has been developed to help make sense of the noise impact of expansion at Heathrow Airport .
Parliament is expected to vote on the National Airports Police Statement before the Parliamentary recess in July, giving Heathrow the green-light to build its third runway .
The airport is currently running its own consultation about how best to structure expansion , including how flights should operate on its runways, as well as the future of the M25, over which the new runway will extend by several hundred metres.
Engineering consultants Arup have used real sound recordings to develop a model for the possible sound impacts of the third runway.
Residents who are concerned about the impact of expansion and want to have their input on how they can minimise the impact on their lives, can attend the soundlab at Heathrow to explore the options.
The program runs through what the current sound levels are at various distances from the office when an Airbus A380 flies overhead, currently the largest long-haul plane operating from Heathrow.
Rob Gray, community and stakeholder relations director, told getwestlondon the aircraft was chosen as a "worst case" scenario and it actually only currently makes up one in 20 flights to and from the airport.
The demonstrations allow you to choose other aircraft which use the airport, as well as ambient sound level, distance from the airport and other factors, to see how airport expansion would affect you.
There are also options to see how additional sound insulation provided to all households within a defined range from Heathrow will impact the level of noise as well as how distributing flight path and runway operations will affect noise.
By the time the runway is due for completion in 2026, new national flight paths are likely to be completed, which may mean that "stacks", where aircraft circle while waiting for runway space, are lessened or removed entirely.
The equipment in the lab is calibrated every morning by sound engineers, and the lab's recordings have been examined by an independent Noise Expert Review Group.
The group said that the demonstrations were "represented in an objective manner, represent the situations they are addressing and are technically robust".
"We believe that these demonstrations are a valuable tool in furthering the engagement between Heathrow Airport and its stakeholders and will help people understand how the sound of aircraft changes in different situations and what might be the perceived benefit of different mitigation measures," the group's report added.
"In making this statement about the sound demonstrations, NERG is neither supporting nor objecting to any of Heathrow Airport's current operations, practices or proposals, or any other specific expansion proposal or any potential intervention in the demonstrations.
"These are a matter for others."
Members of the public who have attended consultation events at Heathrow's Employment and Skills Academy have been able to use the soundlab to help demonstrate the impacts of expansion on noise and how best to minimise them.
"Even though the number of planes using the airport has gone up over the last few decades, the level of noise generated by the airport has gone down," added Rob.
"We understand that noise is a big concern for those people that live near the airport, and so we've made this soundlab to try to find out how we can reduce the impact of noise.
"There are some people who will say expansion can only mean more noise. We are keen for people to try the soundlab and see for themselves how we can take actions to reduce the affects of noise."
Rob Barnstone, campaign coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “No matter how noise is presented, nothing will hide the fact that Heathrow expansion means new noise for literally hundreds of thousands of people right across west London who have never suffered from aircraft noise over their home before.
"The only trouble is, neither Heathrow or the government have provided any indication of where any flight paths might be located, which we think is woefully inadequate and totally unfair on all communities across west London not being able to know whether or not they will be impacted.”
How to have your say
Heathrow's consultation on expansion and the principles of airspace closes at 11.55pm on March 28. To view all the documents and respond, visit the consultation's website.
Members of the public interested in visiting the soundlab, can contact the expansion enquiry team at 0800 307 7996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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