John Stewart is the lead author of Why Noise Matters (with Arline L. Bronzaft as contributing co-author) and is recognized as a long-term UK advocate to lessen noise pollution, especially aircraft noise. With the formation of UECNA, John hopes to extend his battle against noise beyond the UK.
By Elaine Miller, Plane Sense 4 Long Island
The airline industry and governmental agencies plan to modernize airspace to allow more planes to fly over fewer flight paths for the sake of “efficiency.” For communities under or near these flight paths, this is a threat to their health, exposing them to high levels of chronic loud noise and toxic pollution. Many feel that the right to live free from these health dangers has been taken away and has created an intolerable situation. It is a worldwide problem.
The Union Européenne Contre les Nuisances Aériennes, or UECNA, was founded in 1968 by three citizens affected by aircraft noise. It has since grown into an international organization with representatives from European nations dedicated to tackling the critical issues concerning the impact of low flying planes on people’s health and quality of life. UECNA prides itself on being unique. It is the only Europe-wide organization of grassroots airport communities represented at the highest levels at the European Parliament and at the European Commission. UECNA also speaks to the International Civil Aviation Organization– the aviation industry’s main international decision-making body–on behalf of residents.
The UECNA is headed by the President Dominique Lazarski, Vice President John Stewart, and qualified board members. The organization takes a proactive approach to addressing the problems of aviation noise and pollution, and the increase in numbers of flights over communities. Specific topics it deals with include: night flights, options for dealing with aircraft noise, noise metrics, airport growth, noise and health risks, and citizen protests.
Recognizing that “our health is precious and needs respect and protection,” the goals of the UECNA are clear:
- To reduce the annoyance and impact on the health and on the quality of life of citizens affected by aircraft noise and air pollution
- To ensure that noise and air pollution from aircraft are duly taken into account when measures to reduce the environmental impacts of aviation are considered
- To reflect the concerns, anxieties and anger of citizens impacted by aircraft noise and air pollution
- To strengthen the network of community groups to share expertise, experience and best practices.
The UECNA is now expanding its horizons by reaching out to international communities to exert pressure on industry and governmental agencies to take meaningful actions that protect the public from the hazards of aviation noise and pollution.
More and more communities are encouraged to join with UECNA’s efforts.
Elaine Miller is the co-founder of PlaneSense 4 Long Island, a grassroots activist group in Nassau County, New York, which is dedicated to bringing relief to communities adversely affected by the Federal Aviaition Administration’s NextGen flight paths.