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A critical analysis of the legal and policy framework governing aircraft noise in South Africa with specific reference to King Shaka International Airport.

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Airport operations have become a major public concern over the past few years due to the various negative impacts they have on the environment. One such impact that has been an outcry by communities living close to the airport precinct is the noise emissions. An increasingly vocal and influential public opposition calling for measures to limit aircraft operations poses a threat to the continued growth of the aviation industry in South Africa as well as globally. This study investigates the legislation that is in place internationally and locally and addresses how the South African aviation sector has embraced and implemented the global approach in terms of ICAO in addressing noise emissions from aircrafts and the impacts it has on the surrounding affected communities. The study focuses on the first “greenfield” airport in South Africa, King Shaka International Airport, which relocated to the northern suburb of La Mercy, Durban on 1 May 2010. The relocation of the airport was to accommodate the expanding traffic of passengers and in readiness for the World Cup 2010 soccer games that was hosted by most of the provinces in South Africa. The Airport is regulated by a Record Of Decision (the RoD) issued by the Municipality which requires that the Airport adopt the Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) ‘Balanced approach” method to aircraft noise management. A discussion of the best practices that Airports Company South Africa have put in place to ensure adherence to international standards and in line with ICAO’s “balanced approach” method. The study reveals that despite South Africa not having any formal noise pollution legislation in place governing aircraft noise emissions, the practices applied is definitely of international standards. The study concludes by detailing various models as well as practices that can be put in place to ensure compliance to noise standards and keeping communities and affected parties informed and appeased as possible. It is no doubt that it is an important industry and is here to stay so the best would be to ensure that the necessary procedures and reporting mechanisms are in place to ensure compliance by airlines and airports respectively. The recommendations include the phasing out of certain noisier, older generation aircrafts, flight times, and penalties by offending operators, proper land use and planning, the possibility of relocating as well as insulating households or affected communities and enforcing international environmental regulations.


Master of Laws in Environmental Law. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.