Project Aim

The aim of the project is develop more inclusive ways of documenting the effects of Heathrow airport on London since the current processes exclude the majority of living entities from participating.
Heathrow airport and its possible third runway expansion are an extremely decisive issue. Hundreds of thousands of people living close to the airport are constantly exposed to aircraft noise. Living under the flight-path is acknowledged as having wide ranging cognitive impacts such as reading comprehension in children (Clark et al. 2006) as well as health stresses such as increased stress hormone (Selander et al. 2009), hypertension, acute myocardial infarctions, strokes and dementia. Yet the way noise is regulated has been turned into a technocratic process that does not deal with these health impacts. There are many technical simplifications and exclusions. For example under UK law aircraft noise is by definition excluded from being classed as a nuisance. Instead regulation revolves around outdated social science surveys that identify generalised population annoyance curves that are supposed to predict community opposition at different noise exposure levels. These are converted into a series of computer modeled contours which focus on “the approximate onset of significant community annoyance” (Secretary of State for Transport 2013). Depending on which contour of these designated contours one lives has profound impacts on ones life. They can mean the difference between receiving free triple insulation or even compensation when selling one’s house.
Yet the impacts of Heathrow are not confined to these contour area but extend across the whole of London. If we listen carefully to the Windsor sound stream it is possible to hear the disturbance of birds when a particularly loud planes passes overhead. The current political discussion excluded a broad variety of impacts on the whole of the human and nonhuman ecosystem of London, which are not addressed by cost-benefit calculations.
This project tried to do more than just open a ‘discussion’ but practically build material networks of affected groups and technologies that can invent and demonstrate new and innovative ways of representing the impacts of the airport.

  • Clark, C., Martin, R., Van Kempen, E., Alfred, T., Head, J., Davies, H. W., Haines, M. M., Barrio, I. L., Matheson, M. & Stansfeld, S. a. (2006), ‘Exposure-effect relations between aircraft and road traffic noise exposure at school and reading comprehension: The RANCH project’, American Journal of Epidemiology 163(1), 27–37.
  • Secretary of State for Transport (2013), Aviation Policy Framework, The Stationery Office Limited.
  • Selander, J., Bluhm, G., Theorell, T., Pershagen, G., Babisch, W., Seiffert, I., Houthuijs, D., Breugel- mans, O., Vigna-Taglianti, F., Antoniotti, M. C., Velonakis, E., Davou, E., Dudley, M.-L. & Järup, L. (2009), ‘Saliva cortisol and exposure to aircraft noise in six European countries.’, Environmental Health Perspectives 117(11), 1713–1717.
The project is set up by Christian Nold in collaboration with Grant Smith, Max Baraitser Smith, Matthias Stevens and Andrew Hall. Audio streaming provided by Locus Sonus.
Produced with the support of Hubbub, a project investigating rest and its opposites, funded by the Wellcome Trust.