Despite being one of the first airports in the UK to embrace biomass as an alternative energy source, East Midlands Airport still has a long way to go if it wants to convince local residents of its commitment to the environment.
Campaigners were left stunned last week after airport bosses claimed to have reduced noise complaints by 60% over 2008/9. East Midlands received just 1,064 angry letters in 2009/10, continuing a trend of improvement that began three years ago, when over 7,000 complaints were lodged against the airport.
Whilst the figures may be correct, local residents refuse to accept that the plunge is a result of restrictions put in place by the airport, which currently include fines of £1,000 for every plane that flaunts noise rules.
Steve Charlish, a local campaigner, believes that noise complaints are falling for an entirely different reason – ‘It’s no quieter now than it was last year. I’m still woken at 4am with planes thundering over my house. People just think complaining is an act of futility,’
During November 2009, a public forum was given the opportunity to discuss a ‘noise action plan’ with representatives from the airport. This document, which has since been sent to the Department of Transport, proposed no further changes to the airport’s noise controls, despite suggestions from 90 people.
To the casual observer, East Midlands’ commitment to biomass technology might appear suspect: a novel way of generating electricity, or a thinly veiled tactic to divert attention away from the battle against noise pollution? Local villagers remain unconvinced.