9TH CHAPTER - THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
9) Given that AENA was the promoter for the Barcelona airport expansion,
it was therefore responsible for carrying out the 'Environmental Impact
Report' ('EIA') for this expansion
A) What was the objective of the environmental impact report ?
B) What was the noise limit that the airport could generate ?
C) What were the results of the sound meters ?
D) How were the future scenarios simulated ?
E) What conclusions were drawn from the simulation and the report ?
F) What were the allegations presented ?
A) WHAT WAS THE OBJECTIVE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT ?
was the promoter for the Barcelona airport expansion; therefore,
it was responsible for carrying out the Environmental Impact
Report ('EIA') for this expansion.
|Among the environmental impacts that needed to be studied was the
May 10th, 2000, AENA signed a collaboration agreement with
CEDEX (Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras
Públicas - 'Center for Public Works Studies and
|Experimentation') for the development of prior studies relating to the Barcelona airport
expansion. Its objective was to undertake a series of works aimed
at the evaluation of the sound levels in the Barcelona airport surroundings
with the intention of its planned expansion.
put the company IBERINSA (Ibérica de Estudios e Ingeniería,
S.A.) in charge of completing a technical report on the study
of sound levels produced by the Barcelona airport. This forms part
of the prior studies taken on the Barcelona airport expansion.
CEDEX turned in the definitive version of this Environmental Impact
Report ('EIA') in November of 2000
and made it very clear that the report pursued the following objectives:
- To evaluate
the sound levels of the Barcelona airport surroundings exclusively
generated by landing and takeoff operations in the year 2000 (Case 1)
- By taking
into consideration this information, to anticipate the impact of El Prat
airport expansion in the following scenarios:
Before the third runway is put into service (2004)
- Scenario 3: with the putting in service of the third runway,
thus with parallel runways operated segregately (also anticipated
for the year 2004)
- Scenario 4: Due to the expansion construction on the main runway,
it would be necessary to operate with the main runway's taxiway instead
of with the actual main runway, while it is being lengthened and widened
(construction also anticipated for 2004)
- Scenario 5: with parallel runways operated independently (2015)
- Scenario 6: with the saturation of the airport (2025)
they wanted to base the study on the existing situation in the airport
at that moment(the existence of only two crossed runways and some determined
air configurations) to
create a simulation model that could serve as a foundation
for establishing a diagnostic and
to be able to detect the zones mostly affected by the acoustic impact
originated by the airport's expansion and to what extent the affects would
be produced in each one of the different scenarios.
B) WHAT WAS THE NOISE LIMIT THAT THE AIRPORT COULD GENERATE ?
In that moment, there did not exist in the Spanish State any law that limited the sound
levels in the vicinity of transportation infrastructures.
The only precedent was the 'Environmental Impact Report' ('EIA') taken on the Barajas
(Madrid) airport expansion and the later 'Environmental Impact Declaration'
The LAeq began to be used as an indicator of noise disturbances generated in the
airport surroundings because its use was becoming widespread in all developed
countries and it was the indicator chosen in advance by the European Union
in the proposals of guidelines related with the evaluation of environmental
With the objective of evaluating the impact of night flights, they deemed necessary
the use of two separate time periods:
- Day: from 7h until 23h
- Night: from 23h until 7h
Without having to add them to a single index (LDN).
Thus, the study was aimed at determining the value of the continuous
day noise level LAeq (7-23h) and the continuous
night noise level LAeq (23-7h) of a representative average
day in each one of the six fixed cases.
Given that the area to be studied was very extensive, the results were obtained in
the form of graphic isophonic curves
at land level covering the entire area studied.
In accordance with the usual practice of the Dirección General de Calidad
y Evaluación Ambiental del Ministeri de Medi Ambient ('General
Management of Environmental Quality and Evaluation of the Catalan Ministry
of Environment'), they adopted the following reference limit values:
<= 65 dB(A)
LAeq (23-7h) >= 55 dB(A)
C) WHAT WERE THE RESULTS OF THE SOUND METERS ?
La Salle, put in charge by AENA, placed the following 10
sound meters around the airport on June 14th and 23rd of 2000
From sound meter 1 (located in Gavà Mar, more or less at the height
of the "Les Marines" Restaurant), with the passing of planes
the noise levels surfaced with clarity over the background noise levels
and the total noise level was very similar to the noise level caused by
the airplanes. In other words, the noise from the planes was the main
source of noise when takeoffs were performed from the main runway.
With the passing of the noisiest planes, the maximum noise levels reached between
80 and 90 dBA, which can be perfectly proven by the following graph
that collected noise data for the 20th of June 2000 between 13h and 14h,
when some takeoffs were performed from the main runway flying over Gavà
From the analysis of these sound meters, IBERINSA concluded that:
- In the city center of El Prat de Llobregat, sound levels from local sources (traffic,
industry, noise from neighbors) completely masked the noise levels caused
by the passing of airplanes.
- In Gavà Mar, the equivalent day levels were less than 65 dBA and night levels
were less than 55 dBA, but they recognized that the situation during the
night period was worse than during the day period.
The view from Gavà Mar:
The 'EIA' emphasized that the sound meters situated in Gavà Mar gave
average values below 65 dBA.
Also they could have stressed that they obtained daily average readings
from the LAeq of more than 60 dBA because of takeoffs from the main runway
that have been performed since 1997, and mostly because of the takeoffs
of obsolete airplanes (defined as chapter II) that flew over us at that time.
Also, it should have been highlighted that these daily averages greater
than 60 dBA never had been produced before the main runway's use for takeoffs
in the direction of Gavà Mar. They were perfectly avoidable using
the transverse runway to perform all takeoffs towards the sea.
D) HOW WERE THE FUTURE SCENARIOS SIMULATED ?
used the technique of acoustic case simulation by means of a computerized
mathematical model for the foresight of sound levels called INM (Integrated
Noise Model) in its 6.0 version (developed in the USA). According
to them, the simulation was, in practice, the only available method to
estimate the sound levels in temporary situations different than the present.
The way to
proceed was to collect, for a particular scenario analyzed, the following:
- The data concerning the physical configuration of the airport and its surroundings
- The information limited to takeoff and landing operations for the considered
period of calculation including the description of the aircraft model
that performs every operation and the flight routes that they follow during
their takeoff and airport approach operations.
Furthermore, during takeoff operations, the INM model allowed for the differentiation
of certain "distance categories" according to the origin distance
- flight destination. It established a specific load for combustible and
conditioned the aircrafts' profiles during the takeoff and distancing
phases. Therefore, influencing the level of sound perceived from the ground.
The contours of equal noise level (or isophonic curves) made up
the fundamental graphic result of the calculation process.
For its elaboration, once the Leq values were obtained for the points
that made up the calculation net, an interpolation process was applied
that made it possible to draw the contours for the Leq values that were
Following the established precedent of the Barajas expansion 'EIA' that was later
accepted by environmental authorities, they considered acceptable for
the noise calculation a representative day in which the total traffic
represented between 80 and 90% of the day traffic peak.
AENA ended up choosing four representative days from 1999 and 2000 to cover all the
operations they were performing in El Prat airport at that time:
A day with a preferential WEST configuration that was applied Monday
- Takeoffs from the transverse runway towards the sea
- Landings on the main runway coming from Zona Franca
B) A day with a non-preferential EAST configuration that was applied
Monday through Friday
- Takeoffs from the transverse runway towards the sea
- Landings on the main runway coming from Garraf
(flying over the south of Gavà Mar)
C) A day with the WEST configuration that was applied weekends
- Takeoffs from the main runway in direction of Garraf (flying
over the south of Gavà Mar)
- Landings also on the main runway coming from Zona Franca
D) A day with the EAST configuration on weekends
- Takeoffs from the main runway in direction of Zona Franca
- Landings on the main runway coming from Garraf (flying
over the south of Gavà Mar)
They introduced into the simulator all the operations performed on
these four days, specifying for each operation:
- The type of operation (landing or takeoff)
- The type of aircraft
- At what time the operation took place
- The aircraft's origin and destination
- The path followed
In addition, a small analysis was also done on the influence of the straying of the
actual plane trajectories away from the official nominal routes on the
isophonic curves of El Prat airport. They ended up concluding that the
influence of the dispersions was low, but they insisted that there must
be alertness and adequate control over the trajectories the planes follow.
The view from Gavà Mar:
Time has shown that the occurrence of dispersion is not that scant. A significant
percentage of planes that take off from the Barcelona airport does not
comply with the official trajectories. For example:
- When the TMA came into effect in October 2005, the person responsible
for Environment of AENA in the Barcelona airport (Pilar Montalvo) recognized
that this percentage was around 25%
- In March of 2006, this percentage had lowered but it was still around 10%
E) WHAT CONCLUSIONS WERE DRAWN FROM THE SIMULATOR AND THE REPORT ?
After analyzing the average results obtained from the sound meters for all the configurations
and after comparing them with the results obtained with the INM
model, they concluded that the results obtained by the INM model were
valid for scenario 1, thus, it allowed for the simulation of
the five future scenarios.
To simulate all these scenarios, they proposed to use the EAST configuration
as preferential stating that, according to data collected by AENA (and
provided by the National Institute of Meteorology), the percentage
of hours per year in which it would be absolutely necessary to operate
in a WEST configuration would not surpass 15%.
In order to estimate the noise levels that would be produced in atypical situations
-but that could be significant in the affected zones-, they considered
the possibility of a 50% distribution of WEST and EAST configurations,
besides the 15% for WEST configuration.
Conclusions drawn from the different scenarios :
- Scenarios 1 and 2 - the situation at that time (year 2000)
and prior to the inauguration of the third runway
The only area inside the affected zone that has apparent use will be a
part of Gavà Mar. Furthermore, the situation during the nighttime
will be worse than the situation in the daytime
- Due to the anticipated disappearance of the noisiest aircrafts
(classified as chapter II) the affected areas in Gavà Mar will
tend to decrease, even though the nighttime will continue to be more critical
than the daytime.
3 and 4 - The putting in motion of the third runway (anticipated
for the year 2004)
- Two parallel runways with separate operations will start functioning
- It will entail a modification of the takeoff and landing routes, which
will notably influence the affected zone.
- Anticipated number of operations: 865 operations / entire day
- In Gavà Mar, the affected zone will move to the north and its extension will decrease with respect to the current situation.
- In El Prat de Llobregat, the affected zone will be almost limited to
the head of the transverse runway.
- Scenario 5 - The start of independent
operations (starting in the year 2015)
- Number of anticipated operations: 1,203 operations / entire day
- The affects on Gavà Mar will be greater than in the previous
scenario since there will now be two affected zones coinciding with the
direction of the two parallel runways
- The affects on El Prat de Llobregat will be the same
- Scenario 6 - Anticipated saturation of the airport for the year
- Number of anticipated operations: 1.420 operations
- A similar situation to the previous one because the increase
in operations of an already elevated level of air traffic will hardly
modify the affected zones, since all the aircrafts will belong to chapter
III and the routes and configurations will continue to be the same ones
as in the previous scenario.
The environmental impact report concluded that:
- As a consequence of the increase in traffic and the type of aircrafts, and the variation
in the takeoff and landing routes, the LAeq equivalent sound levels perceived
in the towns closest to the El Prat airport will be modified.
- The environmental
impact of the El Prat airport expansion on Gavà Mar will be "MODERATE-SEVERE"
- The decline in the quality of life in Gavà Mar was measured as slight.
The view from Gavà Mar:
Time has shown that the impact has clearly been SEVERE and the decline in the
quality of life has been very SERIOUS and not slight.
The rapid growth of air traffic in the Barcelona airport has moved forward
the schedule of the scenarios in such a way that the saturation scenario
will actually occur in 2015 instead of 2025 (10 years before!).
Therefore, AENA plans to move forward the start of the independent operation from
2015 to 2008 coinciding with the setting in motion of the new south terminal area.
This independent operation, if it becomes a reality, will mean DEATH for all
Gavà Mar and a large part of Castelldefels beach.
F) WHAT WERE THE ALLEGATIONS PRESENTED ?
The Environmental Impact Report ('EIA') was submitted to public information
between March 23rd and May 28th, 2001. The different organizations that
made allegations, thus involving themselves in the noise problem, were
AVV de Gavà Mar
- Solicits the nullity of the presented 'Environmental Impact Report'
given that alternative studies do not exist.
- Criticizes the modeling of the acoustic impact that was drawn up
- Criticizes the uncertainty of the measures related to the diminishing
of these impacts
- Solicits the participation of all administrations involved in the committee
for noise and other impacts vigilance
- Solicits the re-working out of the 'EIA' once they have taken in consideration
the guidelines contained in the allegations as well as in the attached
Allegations against the 'Environmental Impact Report' (May 22, 2001)
Gimbebé School, located in Gavà Mar
- Requests that they respect the alternative proposals for operations
that were presented in AVV of Gavà Mar's technical report
- Requests that corrective measures be applied to ease the noise pollution
The City Hall of Gavà
- Requests that takeoff and landing routes be redefined
- Criticizes that they have not considered Spanish and European noise
regulations with reference to aeronautic operations
- Requests the prohibition of flying over Gavà Mar at night and
during the day except in exceptional cases.
- Requests that the WEST configuration be set up as preferential.
- Demands the elaboration of a new 'EIA' concerning the putting in motion
of independent operations
- Requests the establishment of coercive and punitive measures based on
anti-noise regulations that consider approach, takeoff and landing operations
- Demands the creation of a committee on noise vigilance
- Criticizes the environmental impact report for its technical and legal
The City Hall of Castelldefels
- Criticizes the omission of the inhabitants of Castelldefels with regards
to the acoustic impacts
- Requests the development of technical regulations concerning the definition
of aircraft trajectories during approach, the establishment of routes,
the prohibition of night operations and the prohibition to fly over Castelldefels
during the day
- Requests the establishment of the WEST configuration
as priority to minimize the acoustic impact
- Requests the formation of a committee for the vigilance of noise pollution
- Demands the development of a new 'EIA' concerning the putting
in motion of independent operations
The City Hall of El Prat de Llobregat
- Requests the installation of an anti-noise screen on end 20 (the head
of the transverse runway that is closest to the city of El Prat)
The City Hall of Barcelona
- Requests the development of a flight operations plan which defines routes
and procedures to alleviate the acoustic impact
The City Hall of Viladecans
- Requests the establishment of corrective measures aimed at the decrease
in sound impact
- Requests the establishment of a sound control and vigilance system in
which the affected organizations would participate.
Minister of Defense
- Requests the construction of an anti-noise screen on the limit between
the military barracks and the runways
- Requests the undertaking of studies on noise and air pollution affecting
these barracks in order to avoid impacts on the military residents
Department of Territorial Politics
- Requests the undertaking of a plan to manage takeoffs and landings
- Requests the specification of the acoustic insulation measurement for
The Environment Department
- Proposes to draw up a control and management plan of aircraft takeoff
and landing operations that ensures the established routes are followed
ERC of Gavà
- Requests that they develop new sound prints using the measurement values
that were taken by an organization independent from AENA during Holy Week.
- Requests that they grant the management of control and sound measurements
to an organization that is not linked to aeronautic supervision
Allegations against the 'Environmental Impact Report' (April 26th, 2001)
- States that the only feasible alternative
is the one presented by this same organization, consisting in rotating
the current runways 10 degrees, constructing a new runway and situating
the new terminal area on the east side.