Noise Protection for the Neighbours

Kerstin Graupner explains how Hamburg Airport has launched its ninth Noise Protection Programme.

Hamburg Airport launched its ninth Noise Protection Programme (NPP) earlier this year. (Flughafen Hamburg GmbH)

Together with the government of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the state government of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg Airport has launched its ninth Noise Protection Programme (NPP).  The launch, in spring 2012, followed changes to Germany’s Aircraft Noise Act of 1971, which were approved in 2007.  Following the amendments, the state governments were required to define new Noise Protection Zones (NPZ).  After a detailed study was completed, a new calculation method was introduced and the new NPZs (two in the daytime and one at night) were established in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in January and February 2012.
Lower noise levels, more protection
According to the Aircraft Noise Act, residents of the new Daytime Protection Zone 1 and NPZ are entitled to have expenses reimbursed for work carried out on structural noise-protection measures.  This includes noise-proofing on the outside walls of habitable rooms, such as the installation of soundproof windows, roof insulation and ventilators in bedrooms.
Notably, soundproofing measures for facades and roofs qualify for reimbursement for the first time, in addition to windows and ventilators that were already included.
Perhaps most importantly, the new daytime law includes residents who live in lower noise areas than before the new laws and the NPZ covers areas that did not previously qualify.
In the Daytime Protection Zone 1, the qualifying noise value was lowered from 75db(A) to 65db(A) – a figure that now applies to all existing German airports.  In the new Night-time Protection Zone, a value of 55db(A) outside the building applies.  The Night-time Protection Zone also incorporates areas in which bedrooms are regularly (at least six times per night) subject to aircraft noise levels of 57db(A).
150 euros per square metre
Reimbursement fees stretch to a maximum of €150 euros (US$193) per square metre of soundproofed residential space and anything more must be covered by the applicant.  One of the prerequisites for reimbursements is the calculation of the structural soundproofing value – which indicates the extent a structural element can be insulated against noise – and the agreement necessary to improve the soundproofing under the terms of the regulations.
The airport has appointed an independent assessor to inspect applicants’ buildings and meets all the assessment costs.  Another bonus for residents is that the airport has issued ‘umbrella contracts’ to companies providing all the necessary services more cheaply.  The airport has negotiated lower prices for the work than individual house holders could have achieved due to the large volume of properties involved.
“We pass these favourable conditions on to applicants directly, one-to-one,” says Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport.  “Our neighbours benefit directly as it means that they receive more soundproofing for the maximum entitlement as defined in the Aircraft Noise Act.”
Earlier than legally required
According to the Aircraft Noise Act, the timing of reimbursements is staggered according to the noise intensity for a residential building – so the noisier the location, the quicker compensation is paid.  In many cases it means legal entitlement to payment begins six years after the NPZ is drawn up.  However, Hamburg Airport decided to offer entitled house owners to apply immediately.
Over the past 30 years, Hamburg Airport has already fitted soundproof windows in 15,000 residences in the neighbouring area as part of the previous Noise Protection Programmes and now a further 9,300 soundproof ventilators in bedrooms ensures access to fresh air without windows being open.  “A large proportion of buildings in the NPZs have already been fitted with soundproof windows and ventilators in the course of our previous programmes,” said Michael Eggenschwiler, referring to the eight NPPs that the airport had already implemented at a cost of around €38 million (US$49m).
Applications are assessed in two stages.  First, the location of the property is examined.  If it is located in DPZ 1 or the NPZ the borough office or Buildings Supervision Authority will request necessary documentation from the property.  In the second stage an assessor carries out an Acoustic Property Assessment to determine which sound-proofing measures are necessary.  If the house owner elects to use the services of the independent assessor, appointed by Hamburg Airport, the airport covers the assessment costs directly.  The applicant does not have to pay the assessor’s costs in advance and the assessment costs do not count towards the maximum reimbursement entitlement – so the entire amount claimable can be used for acoustic work.
Hamburg’s Minister for Civil Engineering and the Environment, Jutta Blankau, supports the latest NPP.  “Noise is one of the largest environmental problems in densely populated regions.  Hamburg Airport’s ninth NPP gives even more Hamburg residents the opportunity to apply for grants for noise-protection measures in their apartments and houses, providing better protection against aircraft noise.”
Specific street locations entitled to development funds are laid out in detailed maps, which are available to residents at the local borough offices in Hamburg and the local council offices in Schleswig-Holstein.  They are also online at and