Members of Friends of the Earth and concerned residents living in the shadow of Birmingham Airport will arrive at the residence of Brian Summers, Airport MD, protesting at airport noise. Dressed as airport marshals complete with high visibility capes and waving batons bearing suitable messages, they will flag in a truck-borne sound system which will touch down outside Walnut Cottage, blasting out ear-splitting aircraft noise giving him a taste of his own medicine.

Birmingham airport has been given permission to double it’s capacity by 2005. FoE is very concerned about the adverse effect this will have on the quality of life of those living close to the airport. Using local papers and shop window adverts FoE appealed to residents living near the airport to contact them with their experiences of airport noise and pollution.

The response we had from residents was overwhelming’ said Brett Rehling of Birmingham Friends of the Earth. ‘Clearly there are many people out there who are suffering considerably from the activities of their noisy neighbour. The letters and calls we received came in from all areas around the airport. ` Here are just a few:

Mr Bill Crump of Marston Green complained that ‘Since the new runway. The planes are flying over at under 1000 ft making a terrific noise. This summer was beautiful, but I had to keep my doors and windows constantly shut.’

Mary Palmer, a pensioner also from Marston Green said ‘I have to resort to sleeping tablets to avoid being woken up and have to wear ear plugs when I’m out in the garden. They are supposed to have introduced quieter aircraft, but the noise is getting worse, and the bunds make no difference.’

Jean Browne from Sheldon was told us ‘My husband is 60% deaf, when he is in the garden he has to switch off his hearing aid, how would the directors and such like, like to live with this noise.’

Brian Summers has said that all environmental problems associated with the airport expansion programme have been addressed, but have they? Judging by the responses from locals, those caused by the present volume of air traffic have yet to be addressed, let alone those from any expansion. It is because of these concerns that FoE have decided to take their campaign to the very doorstep of the person responsible for running the airport.

Brett Rehling added

‘We hope Mr Summers will take notice of our concerns. By giving him a taste of what it is like to live in the shadow of the airport, maybe he will show a bit more concern for those who have to suffer aircraft noise and pollution day in, day out.’



  1. In 1996 Birmingham International Airport (BIA) received permission to almost double it’s capacity over ten years. Passenger numbers are predicted to increase from 5.3 million passengers per year to 9.4 million per year by 2005.
  2. The power to control aircraft noise (except from model aircraft!) has been excluded from the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  3. The Civil Aviation Act 1982 gives the Secretary of State powers to enforce noise standards an aircraft, apply operational controls and restrictions and give directions to owners of designated airports in relation to operational requirements and noise insulation grant schemes. To date, of all the UK’s airports, only Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead have been designated.
  4. Up until October 1997 BIA operated a ban on night flights between the hours of 23.30 and 06.00. This was then revised to "balance the needs of the airport industry and passengers with those of the local communities"1. The balance was to allow a limit 4,200 night movements a year.
  5. To enable their expansion, BIA entered into a Section 106 agreement with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council which made provision to review various operational controls including a review of the Night Flying Policy every two years. The agreement allowed for a growth in the number of night movements of up to 6% of the total movements (day and night). The first review in 1999 increased the allowable limit for night movements to 5,500.
  6. Complaints about aircraft noise to Environmental Health rose six-fold in the ten year period between 1985 and 1995.

1 BIA – Environmental Policy/Noise Management