By Humphrey Carter
THE noise from the summer air traffic at Palma's Son San Joan airport is ruining the lives of some 50'000 residents and tourists living in a radius of five kilometres from the busy airport and only five percent want to see the airport expansion project go ahead. What is more, two out of three residents living within a kilometre from Son San Joan have complained about the noise.
However - work on expanding the airport, which currently handles some 20 million passengers per year, so it will be able to handle 38.6 million passengers by 2015 is under way and looks set to go ahead. A team of biologists, geographers and economists from the Balearic University and Carlos II University in Madrid yesterday presented the results of an impact study. It is the first of its kind in Spain, and was recently carried out on Palma and Madrid airports. The findings are going to be used to make sure that the airport expansion project in Palma, and in the future across Spain, is as eco- and socio-friendly as possible. A spokesperson for the team of investigators said yesterday “the primary aim of the study “is to provide a new scheme which airport planners and developers can use to collate as much information as possible about any given airport's surrounding environment and community which will enable them in turn to develop airports which pose the minimum threat to their surroundings.” As the airport stands, 73 percent of local residents and tourists questioned consider the current size of Son Sant Joan is sufficiently adequate to handle its present level of air and passenger traffic - but few want the airport to be allowed to grow. The main complaint is about the noise followed by road traffic congestion, the lights at night, its visual impact, smell and the health threat.
Nevertheless, the study has also learnt that many “airport residents” have got used to living with their complaints - 62 percent have grown accustomed to the noise etc. and a staggering 86 percent claim they have no intention of moving.

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