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The impact of airport noise : a case study of Vancouver International Airport Biggs, Andrew John Grainge


The principal concern of this paper is the valuation of the impact of aircraft noise associated with Vancouver International Airport on residents living close to the flight paths. In surveying previous research relevant to the valuation of the impact of airport noise, the paper selects a property value approach in which the residential property market is used as a surrogate for airport noise nuisance (on the premise that noisier areas will have lower house prices than quieter areas, ceteris paribus). The selected approach involves undertaking hedonic price modelling in which multiple regression is used to estimate property value, and from which the value of one attribute, exposure to airport noise, may be obtained implicitly. Noise is measured by the Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) technique, a widely used procedure for measuring airport noise. Several theoretical concerns with the approach are addressed before reviewing the results of previous airport noise studies which use hedonic price models. The results of these models may be reported in terms of noise-property value relationships, measured by a noise depreciation sensitivity index (NDSI). If the functional form of noise is linear against the natural logarithm of property value, the NDSI will equal the value of the noise coefficient and will be constant regardless of the absolute price of the property. The NDSI figures for previous studies range from about 0.40 to 1.10 percent per decibel for 1967 to 1976 data, with a simple average of about 0.61 percent. Of the two general model types reported, the one involving individual property sales data is considered superior to that using only census information. The model designed for this study uses individual price data for 1987 single-detached property sales in the Township of Richmond (where the majority of noise-affected properties are situated). Data for physical, area, public sector, accessibility and other characteristics are obtained from various sources to enable the modelling of some 1539 sales. Two data sets are tested with 44 variables initially collected for each: one set involving only those properties inside the NEF 25 noise zone (assumed to be affected by airport noise), the other involving all properties. For each data set alternative functional forms are tested, as are several approaches for explaining noise (continuous or dummy variables, and different assumed thresholds). Of the eleven models reported, the preferred model includes only those single-detached properties exposed to NEF 25 or higher where the natural log of sales price is regressed against sixteen independent variables including a continuous form of the noise variable (NEF level) The model has an adjusted R2 value of .634, and a noise coefficient of -.006484 - implying a one unit increase in noise results in more than half of a percent decrease in property price (NDSI equals 0.65). The 95 percent confidence interval for this variable is -.0097 to -.0033. Preliminary analysis of the model type using census data is also reported. Certain matters of interpretation are discussed before attempting a preliminary application in the setting of Vancouver International Airport in which the noise impact of a third runway is indicated. What distinguishes the modelling for Vancouver International Airport from the previous studies is the high quality of individual data, the large sample size, the testing of several forms for the noise variable(s) and the exploration of alternative noise thresholds. Notwithstanding this, the study concludes by outlining several areas for further research.

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