Facts & Figures: Extensive noise protection at BER Airport26.06.2012
Decision by the Higher Administrative Court contradicts earlier ruling
However, the aim of the planning permission decision regarding noise protection is to ensure that resident According to the decision by the Higher Administrative Court (see Press Release dated 15.06.2012), the noise protection programme shall be such that a maximum sound level of 55 dB(A) may not be exceeded in homes in the daytime protection zone. This level of noise is comparable to that of a normal conversation. s can communicate freely in their homes. The Federal Administrative Court had considered appropriate a compromise based on a relevant equivalent continuous sound level of 45 dB(A), in order to achieve the desired level of protection. Individual sound events that occur within a certain period of time are averaged out to obtain a continuous sound level for that period. The maximum sound level criterion served solely as an additional criterion for preventing particularly loud individual sound events. Unlike during the night, the maximum sound level criterion during the day is therefore insignificant, as there is no need to protect the sleep of those concerned.
FBB fails to understand why a maximum sound level of 55 dB(A) may not be exceeded in the daytime protection zone. Such a ruling would result in residents not being granted the appropriate, necessary level of noise protection when implementing the noise protection programme. Instead, most homes in the vicinity would only be compensated financially, as structural noise protection would no longer be feasible. At the same time, the ruling would go far beyond what is common practice in terms of noise protection at other airports.
In addition, individual criteria are generally not provided for daytime protection in the Aircraft Noise Protection Ordinance on the amended German Aircraft Noise Act. The Aircraft Noise Protection Ordinance also takes into account a mean value. If the regulations of the current German Aircraft Noise Act, which is applied amongst others in Frankfurt and leads to continuous indoor sound levels during the day of between 37 and 42 dB(A), are applied to the situation at BER, well over 16 individual sound levels of 55 dB(A) would be possible in homes with the same level of protection at BER.
Risks for the airport company and next steps
Besides contradicting the planning permission decision, the latest decision by the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court involves an additional financial risk for the airport company. According to an initial estimate, it would no longer be viable to install the required noise protection in 85 per cent of around 14,000 homes in the daytime protection zone. Instead, the compensation scheme outlined in the planning permission decision would take effect (= compensation to the value of 30 per cent of the market value of the property). Further technically demanding noise protection measures would have to be implemented in 15 per cent of homes. The airport company initially estimate the additional costs of such day protection measures/compensation to be €591 million.
The Supervisory Board instructed FBB last Friday to exhaust all legal avenues to reduce the risks. This particularly includes appealing against the decision likely to be made by Brandenburg's Ministry for Infrastructure and Agriculture (MIL) for the immediate implementation of the Higher Administrative Court's decision. At the same time, the airport company will proceed with its request for clarification (see Press Release dated 19.04.2012).
How is noise protection regulated at other airports?
- Current planning permission with regards to noise protection cites the German Aircraft Noise Act. According to which, protection is to be provided only according to the mean continuous sound level during the day. Maximum sound levels are disregarded.
- Munich has a maximum sound level criterion. According to the law currently applicable at Munich Airport, the maximum sound level threshold for daytime noise protection may be exceeded by up to 6 x 55 dB(A). This is an "interpretation in execution" (since 1995), even though the planning permission decision of 1979 actually states "never more than 55". According to the planning permission decision for the third runway, newly affected residents in Munich would be protected according to the German Aircraft Noise Act.
- According to a change authorisation (09.11.2005), structural noise protection measures must be implemented in Düsseldorf to ensure "a maximum sound level of 55 dB(A) is not regularly exceeded in lounges when windows are closed" in the daytime protection zone. "Regularly" in Düsseldorf means exceeding the threshold of 55 dB(A) 16 times in homes during the day.
- The procedure for noise protection in Hamburg is based on the German Aircraft Noise Act. According to which, protection is to be provided only according to the mean continuous sound level during the day. Maximum sound levels are disregarded.
- A comparison of noise protection at the airports BER and Vienna (VIE) is not tenable, as noise protection is based on different calculations. For example, Vienna represents a mixed form – an energy average maximum sound level – and not an individual event as at BER. Therefore the maximum threshold of 52/53 dB(A) should be considered less stringent than the 0 x 55 dB(A) criterion in accordance with the Higher Administrative Court ruling at BER.