East Belfast residents will pay with their health if airport expansion gets go ahead

Green Party East Belfast spokesperson Ross Brown has called on the Executive to factor in new findings published in the British Medical Journal today linking aircraft noise to increased strokes and heart disease when it comes to considering plans to expand George Best City Airport.

The study found that the risk of being admitted to hospital because of a stroke or heart disease was linked to the level of aircraft noise to which an individual was exposed; the higher the level of noise, the more likely it was that they would be admitted to hospital with one of those conditions.

The researchers also found a significant link between the risk of dying of heart disease and daytime exposure to aircraft noise; again, the greater the level of noise, the greater was the risk of dying from the condition.

“This is clear evidence that the noise pollution generated by the City Airport could be damaging to the health of many residents in East Belfast and Holywood,” Mr Brown said.

“Currently almost 8,500 people live close to the airport where the Government regard that the noise generated to cause significant community annoyance.

“Comparatively figures from 2010 show only 2,850 and 1,400 people are exposed to the same levels of noise from Gatwick and Stanstead.

“If the airport is given the go ahead to expand, the level of exposure of such health risks can only increase,” Mr Brown said.

“These findings show the damage to health being inflicted on those in the flight path of George Best Airport which is located right in the heart of residential communities.

“It would be foolish for the Government to spend so much on public health promotion tactics, such as encouraging people to eat more healthily and take regular exercise to avoid stroke and heart attacks, while at the same time ignoring the evidence of the negative health impacts that further expansion of the airport will bring.

“It is not right for the Government to trade the health and wellbeing of local people to facilitate greater profits for a private company and then pick up the bill for hospital admissions and long-term treatment caused by greater levels of noise pollution.

“It is a high financial, if not moral, cost to pay to allow the expansion of George Best Airport.

“If this issue is not taken seriously and acted upon, it will be the people of East Belfast who will pay the greatest personal price with their long term health outcomes and the rest of us will pay through taxes to fund increased admissions to our health services.

“This is a health risk that can be addressed quickly and easily if the Government stop putting profits before people and say no to the expansion of the airport.”

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