AirportWatch says Government’s new aviation policy neglects regions in favour of SE

Residents living close to regional airports are likely to remain exposed to increases in noise, pollution and traffic despite a Government shake-up of its aviation policy, according to AirportWatch, the network of airport community campaigners from across the country. AirportWatch is calling on on the Government for leadership on a truly national aviation policy, not one that just focuses on the needs of London and the South East. The call comes on the day before the Government consultation on its future aviation policy closes. There are serious concerns that proposals in the consultation neglect the regions and are likely to lead to “a two tier system” unless government is prepared to give some direction to all airports. The majority of the noise and air pollution proposals in the consultation document are confined to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted with the Government suggesting that at the UK’s other non-designated airports they are dealt with through voluntary local agreements.



 

Details of the Draft Aviation Policy Framework consultation including where and how to respond. Closes 31st October 2012

31.10.2012 (AirportWatch)

 

Residents living close to regional airports are likely to remain exposed to increases in noise, pollution and traffic despite a Government shake-up of its aviation policy, according to AirportWatch (AW), the network of airport community campaigners from across the country (1).

AW is calling on on the Government for leadership on a truly national aviation policy, not one that just focuses on the needs of London and the South East. The call comes on the day the Government consultation on its future aviation policy closes (2).

AW stresses serious concerns that proposals in the consultation neglect the regions and are likely to lead to “a two tier system” unless government is prepared to give some direction to all airports.” (3)

The Government has overall responsibility for the local environment around Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, the country’s three ‘designated’ airports.  The majority of the noise and air pollution proposals in the consultation document are confined to these airports, with the Government suggesting that at the UK’s other airports they are dealt with through voluntary local agreements.

AirportWatch argues in its response to the consultation that, “noise and other environmental impacts will not be dealt with effectively at the non-designated airports as  their management will be left to planning conditions imposed by the local authority, noise action plans, master plans and ‘voluntary arrangements.’ A particular concern is that a number of local authorities have a conflict of interest in that they own or part-own the airports.”.

AirportWatch Chair, John Stewart, said:

“There is a real possibility that the new aviation policy will not offer any protection to residents living close to airports and they will be exposed to further increases in noise and other negative impacts, as they are still left to the mercy of unsympathetic local authorities and weak airport consultative committees.

“It is essential that proposals to improve the noise climate(4), for example, are introduced at all airports.  The Government cannot just regulate at the South East’s Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick – and leave the rest to be agreed at a local level.  It would be missing the chance to improve conditions and to protect all residents from local negative impacts of aviation.”

 

Notes for Editors:

(1). AirportWatch is an umbrella movement uniting the national environmental organisations, airport community groups, and individuals opposed to unsustainable aviation expansion, and its damaging environmental effects, including climate change and noise.   www.airportwatch.org.uk

(2). The consultation closes on 31st October.  The full consultation can be found at http://assets.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-35/draft-aviation-policy-framework.pdf  This is the consultation on aviation policy.  A final policy document is expected in spring 2013.  Separately, the Government will be taking evidence on the future airport capacity needs of the UK through a Commission headed by Sir Howard Davies.  The exact remit for the Davies Commission is expected to be published shortly.

(3). The full AirportWatch response at

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Aviation-Consultation-AirportWatch-response.doc

(4) At present the Government argues that people start to get annoyed by aircraft noise when it averages out over the summer months at  57 decibels, known as  57 dB LAeq, 16h.  This is at variance with the lower limits recommended by the World Health Organisation and the one used the European Union. The consultation floats the idea of using 55 Lden recommended by Europe or 54 Leq.  Both are more in line with WHO recommendations and EU practice.