We asked the Department of Health what role they have in assessing the impact of aviation noise on public health and whether they have any influence over the Government’s aviation policy, which is developed by the Department for Transport. Below are our original questions and the Department of Health’s response.
Thank you for your letter of 17th February concerning the role of the Department of Health in aviation policy and health. Public Health England (PHE) provides advice and input into noise related health matters for the Department of Health, including aviation policy and therefore they have provided answers below to the questions you raised in your letter.
AIRCRAFT NOISE AND PUBLIC HEALTH: THE EVIDENCE IS LOUD AND CLEAR
1. Does the Department of Health currently have any ongoing role, either directly or indirectly through its partner heath organisations, in assessing the public health impacts of aviation noise and aviation policies?
a) In 2014 PHE was represented on the Inter-Governmental Group on the Costs and Benefits of Noise, which informed the policy appraisal guidance document “Environmental Noise: Valuing impacts on: sleep disturbance, annoyance, hypertension, productivity and quiet.”
b) PHE is working with the Department of Transport (DfT) in the following areas:
i) Survey of Noise Attitudes 2014 (a field study investigating noise attitudes of people living close to airports) – PHE is represented on the project board that oversees the methodology and overall progress
ii) Airport Capacity Appraisal of Sustainability – PHE is steering the Health Impact Assessment process.
iii) Night Flight Restrictions consultation – PHE is providing ad-hoc advice to DfT on the
2. Has the Department of Health had any involvement with the design of the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy?
PHE has not yet had any involvement with the design of the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy.
3. In light of the latest research, as summarised in the AEF report Aircraft Noise and Public Health: the evidence is loud and clear, what plans does the Department of Health have to ensure that the impacts of aviation on public health are properly assessed and that the detrimental impact on public health is minimised wherever possible?
PHE plans to continue its engagement with the Department of Transport, by providing evidence-based advice. To be able to do this, PHE will continually monitor the scientific evidence on the health effects of aviation noise, and promote research to further our understanding, particularly on the effectiveness of interventions to protect and improve health.
Dr Felicity Harvey
Director General for Public and International Health