Complaints over noise are commonplace for airports all over the world, but it is an issue that is difficult to solve. Many airports put in place curfews to cut out noise during the night. Others adapt the flightpaths, so as to impact as few local residents as possible. One airport in Japan, however, has come up with a novel method of mitigating noise – building an entirely new island on which to build the airport.

Kansai International Airport, just off the coast of Osaka, opened in September 1994 and is built around the concept of a pollution-free airport with minimal negative impacts on the communities it serves. Once the airport itself was built, the airport operator embarked on its Eco Island Plan, which identified 30 targets for reducing its environmental impact on biodiversity on land and sea.

Since the plan was put in place, noise levels are reported to be significantly lower than average and the airport has been following environmental protection standards that are even more strict than those legally mandated the government. Through measures such as encouraging the use of smaller aircraft and limiting the use of APUs to 15 minutes, in favour of GPUs, the airport has also achieved a significant drop in aircraft emissions in the airport vicinity. Policies on recycling and water treatment, as well as installing a sloped seawall that encourages the growth of seaweed, compliment these emissions-reduction measures to create a truly Eco Island.