Aircraft noise and human rights

Late last year, two individuals living near Heathrow airport, represented by the Federation of Heathrow Anti-Noise Groups (FHANG), persuaded the European Commission on Human Rights to declare admissible that aircraft noise could amount to a violation of certain human rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The full text of the Commission's decision was published recently (Powell and Baggs v UK, Application No 9310/81), and is a strong indication of embryonic developments in the interpretation of the Convention to encompass environmental concerns. The case was foreshadowed by the Commission's decision in Arrondelle v UK (ENDS Report 92, p 23), but is focussed more clearly on the issue of aircraft noise.

The applicant, Baggs, lived a quarter of a mile from the western end of Heathrow's southern runway, overflown during the day for around 50% of the time, and also at night. He had received an insulation grant for double glazing but this made little difference.

At an oral hearing, the UK Government elaborated on the various control measures that were taken to curb aircraft noise or reduce its effects. A civil action for trespass or nuisance

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