HC Deb 17 December 1968 vol 775 cc370-3W
Mr. Whitaker

asked the Minister of Technology, whether he will now make a statement on the results of the sonic boom tests carried out in June, 1967.

Mr. Benn

Between 6th and 21st July, 1967 a total of 11 supersonic bangs were made by Lightning aircraft operating from the Ministry of Technology's Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down—two over Dorset, five over the Bristol Channel area, and four over the London area. This short exercise was confined to the strictly limited purpose of providing wider experience for the public of the nature of sonic bangs. It was not intended to provide a statistical analysis from which conclusions could be drawn of public reaction to supersonic flying overland.

The estimated population of the areas in which the bangs were heard was:

Dorset 250,000
Bristol Channel area 1,500,000
London area 11,000,000

My Department received some 12,000 complaints (some 3,400 by telephone) from people in the areas affected at the times the bangs were made. Some 9,600 complaints were from the London area and some 2,300 from the Bristol Channel area. In addition, 215 complaints about the exercise were received from people outside the areas affected and 115 from people who believe that other noises they had heard were sonic bangs.

Many of the complaints were in general terms expressing disapproval, fear or anxiety. Specific points raised in terms of the percentage of the some 12,000

Nature of alleged injury or damage Number of claims Number of claims in respect of which payments have been made Total payments made
£ s. d.
Personal injury 8 3 199 7 6
Injury or damage to animals (including poultry and eggs) 4 3 49 7 6
Damage to:—
glass 338 246 1,101 1 1
ceilings 126 93 1,395 5 2
roofs and chimneys 84 58 525 11 5
gutterings 19 14 162 6 0
walls 51 21 101 0 0
ornaments 19 15 77 8 0
vehicles 13 5 37 11 6
Miscellaneous 123 57 470 10 8
Claims under discussion 3
TOTAL 788 515 4,119 8 10
395 claims were met in the London Area, 116 in the Bristol Channel area and 4 in Dorset; the amounts involved being £3,290 12s. 6d., £777 14s. 10d. and £51 1s. 6d. respectively.

The information obtained from these tests will be useful to my Department in the continuing programme of research it is conducting in collaboration with the American and French authorities into the nature and effects of sonic bangs.

complaints received (some complaints raised more than one point) were:—

Per cent.
Complaints that window, etc., were shaken 25
Complaints that adverse effects of a medical nature had been experienced 6
Complaints of incidents involving animals (mostly that animals had been startled or frightened) 4
Complaints that sonic bangs were an unacceptable addition to existing noise 10
Fear of:—
effects on health 9
effects on babies and/or children 7
damage to structures 5
accidents (for example, as a result of people or animals being startled) 4

Some of the complaints received included claims in respect of injury or damage attributed to the bangs. The total number of claims received was 788. These were investigated on behalf of the Ministry of Technology by the Claims Commission of the Ministry of Defence. Payments have been made in respect of 515 of these claims, 270 have been rejected or withdrawn, and three are still under discussion.

Details are:

No decision has been taken, or could have been taken at this stage, on what restrictions, if any, should be imposed on supersonic flight overland.

Forward to