Comments on the Government’s new Aviation Policy Framework from GACC, SSE, HACAN and others (they are not impressed)
Comments from NGOs and airport groups to publication of the government’s new Aviation Policy Framework document on Friday have not been complimentary. GACC at Gatwick said it was “turgid, vapid and verbose” and is so wordy because “it contains a paean of praise for the aviation industry which reads as if written by a PR agency, and most of which could be applied equally to any other industry.” Also GACC is disappointed that “several measures to make life better for local residents have been dropped.” SSE at Stansted said “the new framework is noticeably lacking in any meaningful measures to control noise, air pollution or climate change, adding to condemnation by airport community campaign groups and national environmental organisations across the UK. Top of the list of failures is the framework’s adherence to discredited methods for measuring aircraft noise disturbance – not least in rural areas with low background noise”. There are more comments from HACAN, WWF, FoE and AEF. And the BATA.
25 March 2013 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Comment from GACC on the Government’s Aviation Policy Framework: “Turgid, vapid and verbose”
The length of the White Paper is partly because it contains a paean of praise for the aviation industry which reads as if written by a PR agency, and most of which could be applied equally to any other industry. And which ignores the fact that much of the apparent success of the industry is due to not paying fuel tax and not paying VAT (air passenger duty would need to be four times as high to cancel the benefit).
At least the new White Paper contains no proposals for new runways. Decisions on whether and where new runways should be built have been shunted off to the Airports Commission, not due to report until 2015.
Forecasts of future growth in air travel have been slashed. The previous White Paper in 2003 proposed that a new runway should be built at Stansted by 2012. If that had been implemented it would now be standing empty. Gatwick is still handling fewer passengers than in 2007. Now we are told that the London airports will probably not be full until 2030.
GACC welcomes the statement that the Government’s policy is to limit and, where possible, reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise.  But only if this is achieved by quieter aircraft. We are concerned that the policy of concentrating aircraft on ever narrower routes, supported in the White Paper, would intensify the annoyance and be perceived as unfair. 
According to Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC: ‘It is disappointing that several measures to make life better for local residents have been dropped. That is what we feared would happen when the sympathetic Justine Greening was replaced as Transport Secretary by the pro-aviation Patrick McLoughlin.’
Among the measures in the draft White Paper published in July 2012 which have been dropped, or referred to a committee for further consideration, are –
- stricter noise limits for departing aircraft 
- higher penalties on noisy aircraft
- penalties on airlines which fail to comply with quieter approach procedures
- more noise monitors
- higher landing fees for night flights
- replacement of the 57 leq contour as the main measure of annoyance.
On climate change the Government is content to rely on seeking international agreement – although progress is minuscule – and on the EU emissions trading scheme – although that has been put on hold after opposition from China and the US. No recognition that because Brits fly more than any other major nation, we have a responsibility to give a lead.
One sentence which GACC welcomes is ‘the [aviation] industry must continue to reduce and mitigate noise as airport capacity grows. ‘But,’ said Brendon Sewill ‘how can that be reconciled with Gatwick’s Master Plan which forecasts that, as the airport grows, the number of people seriously affected by noise will double?’ 
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25 March 2013 (SSE – Stop Stansted Expansion)
Comment from SSE on Government’s Aviation Policy Framework: “Government’s new Aviation Policy is a hollow sham”
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has dismissed the Government’s newly published ‘Aviation Policy Framework’ as little more than a hollow sham.
The long-awaited document, made public on 22 March, sets out the Government’s approach towards the future development of UK aviation and the measures it intends to take to control aviation’s environmental impacts.
However, says SSE, the new framework is noticeably lacking in any meaningful measures to control noise, air pollution or climate change, adding to condemnation by airport community campaign groups and national environmental organisations across the UK.
Top of the list of failures is the framework’s adherence to discredited methods for measuring aircraft noise disturbance – not least in rural areas with low background noise such as Stansted. This is compounded by the exclusion of emissions, other than carbon, in assessing aviation’s climate change impacts and an absence of any new measures to tackle air quality problems. There is hardly any mention of the destructive impact that any expansion would have on landscape, heritage and local communities.
Ministers had claimed during the consultation phase that the new policy framework would pave the way for action, making special mention of the need to address community concerns about noise. This raised hopes that a tougher approach would finally be introduced to tackle the aviation industry’s worst impacts.
SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, commented: “We are naturally disappointed that the Aviation Policy Framework is so ineffective and unhelpful but we are not entirely surprised. The Department for Transport has always tended to support the unfettered expansion of aviation and has never taken its environmental responsibilities very seriously.”
He continued: “The only consolation is that this new policy is silent on the issue of airport expansion. Responsibility for that issue rests with the Airports Commission and we are now very much focused on convincing the Commission that there is no case for major expansion at Stansted, particularly given the irreversible destruction of historic landscape and heritage which this would bring.“
·The new Aviation Policy Framework can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/ system/uploads/attachment_data/file/153776/aviation-policy-framework.pdf
·SSE’s submissions (October 2011 and October 2012) in response to the two Department for Transport consultations on the Aviation Policy Framework are online at:
24 March 2013 (HACAN – at Heathrow)
Comment from HACAN on Government’s Aviation Policy Framework: “Government’s Aviation Strategy ‘Disappointing’ “
Campaign group HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths, has described the Government’s new aviation strategy, released on Friday 22nd March, as ‘disappointing’.
The strategy sets out overall Government policy on aviation. It replaces the 2013 Air Transport White Paper published by the previous Labour Government. The new policy will provide the framework for the Airports Commission which the Government set up last year under Sir Howard Davies. It has been asked to make recommendations about how much extra airport capacity may be needed in the coming decades so that the UK can remain well connected to the rest of the world.
One of the main objectives of the new strategy will be “to ensure that the UK’s air links continue to make it one of the best connected countries in the world” so that “the UK can compete successfully for economic growth opportunities.”
The Government also stresses that it wants to “ensure that the aviation sector makes a significant and cost-effective contribution towards reducing global emissions” and that the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise is limited and where possible reduced. It does not, though, set noise or climate change targets.
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “The aviation strategy is very disappointing. It will permit growth without any clear targets to limit its noise and climate change impacts. Without such targets there is no guarantee that people or the planet will be protected.”
Comment from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)
New Government aviation policy no longer advocates new runways, but leaves big gaps over how noise and climate change impacts should be tackled
22.3.2013 The Government has today published its aviation framework document, setting out its vision for the long-term development of the sector in the UK, including the environmental framework in which future questions about airport capacity and new runways should be assessed.
Comment from WWF UK “Government wants to ‘wish away’ aviation emissions”
23.3.2013 The group said that instead, the framework represents a ‘charter for growth’ which overstates the need for new capacity, underestimates the potential for alternatives such as rail and videoconferencing to replace flying and downplays the growing climate impact of aviation.
Details at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=15010#wwf
Comment from Friends of the Earth UK: “Government aviation guidance slammed”
22 March 2013
Commenting on the publication today (22 March 2013) of the Government’s aviation policy framework, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton, said:
“This document could have been written by the aviation industry – it encourages more flying, while only requiring ‘cost-effective’ action to tackle climate change.
Government publishes its Aviation Policy Framework; disappointingly weak and vague on noise, climate change, air pollution …
22nd March 2013 The government has published its Aviation Policy Framework, which takes the place of the Air Transport White Paper of 2003. There is not much to celebrate in it. It remains curiously uncritical of the alleged economic benefits of air travel to the UK. It is lamentably weak on climate change, weak on noise, weak on air pollution and more of a discussion document than a policy document. Friends of the Earth commented that it “could have been written by the aviation industry – it encourages more flying, while only requiring ‘cost-effective’ action to tackle climate change.” The Framework sets out only general aspirations for aviation to make a “significant contribution to tackling” its climate change challenge, without indicating any national policy measures that might achieve this aim. On noise the Framework acknowledges some of the shortcomings of the current system for monitoring community annoyance from aircraft noise and the 57Leq threshold choice, yet makes no specific proposals for revising it or recognising that annoyance is caused at lower noise levels. The Framework provides scant and inadequate policy guidance on environmental impacts of aviation for the Airports Commission, which needs this information to inform its decisions this year on airport capacity. Click here to view full story…
The document (86 pages) is at Aviation Policy Framework
Aviation Policy Framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/aviation-policy-framework
Written Statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/aviation-policy-framework
Summary of responses to draft Aviation Policy Framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-aviation-policy-framework
“Having devolved the tricky decisions to Sir Howard Davies, his Airports Commission needs to take an holistic approach and consider wider issues, such as more competitive visa and tax regimes, efficient border operations and general airport connectivity as the quick wins on capacity have all been achieved. The Commission should not just be considering where and if to pour concrete.”