Draft Civil Aviation Bill published putting passengers first and largely ignoring environmental concerns

Transport secretary Justine Greening has published a draft version of the new Civil Aviation Bill, which is expected to be introduced by parliament early next year. She said the DfT’s new airports legislation was centred around the experience of the passenger. “This Bill couples our commitment to make our airports better rather than bigger with the Government’s wider agenda on better regulation”. There is almost nothing on environmental impacts of airports or aviation, with the CAA’s responsibilities on noise, emissions etc reduced – it just has to publish environmental information.


The only mentions relating to environmental effects in the draft Civil Aviation bill are:

2.49 This section of the draft Bill is designed to improve the information available about air transport. It creates a new duty for the CAA to publish, or arrange for others to publish, in a format which permits comparisons, such information and advice as the CAA considers appropriate in order to: (a) assist users of air transport to compare services and make more informed choices; and (b) inform the public about the environmental effects (including emissions and noise) of civil aviation in the UK and measures taken to limit adverse environmental effects. The CAA must consult on its policy for carrying out these new functions and have regard to a cost–benefit principle.  (page 19 of the draft Civil Aviation Bill )


81 Environmental information

(1) The CAA must publish, or arrange for the publication of, such information and advice as it considers appropriate relating to – (a) the environmental effects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom, (b) how human health and safety is, or may be, affected by such effects, and (c) measures taken, or to be taken, with a view to reducing, controlling or mitigating the adverse environmental effects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom. (2) The CAA may publish guidance and advice with a view to reducing, controlling or mitigating the adverse environmental effects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom.

(4) Subsection (1) does not require the CAA to disclose, or arrange for the disclosure of, information if it could refuse to disclose the information in response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


(8) In this section references to the environmental effects of civil aviation include – (a) substances, energy, noise, vibration or waste, including emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, (b) visual or other disturbance to the public, (c) effects from works carried out at civil airports or associated facilities or in the construction of such airports or facilities, and (d) effects from services provided at civil airports or associated facilities.

 (both on page 48 of http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/civil-aviation-bill/civil-aviation-bill-vol2-draftbill-explanatorynotes.pdf )



Comments from AirportWatch members:

They do suggest that the CAA is being given a role which includes impacts on local communities.  However, we are outraged by the Draft Civil Aviation Bill as DfT has progressively abandoned the originally-stated environmental elements of this Bill.  When it was first announced (9 March 2009) the then Secretary of State said:  “I intend to give the CAA an environmental duty with respect to its economic regulatory functions. This will ensure that, when operating as an economic regulator, the CAA will consider the environmental consequences of its decisions.”

 Also abandoned is the DfT’s December 2009 promise “to make environmental considerations a ‘mainstream issue’ for the organisation [the CAA] and a strategic priority for its Board.”  However, in the Draft BIll published today, environmental considerations are excluded from the CAA’s economic regulatory function.  The only thing we seem to be getting in this Bill is that the CAA will be required to ‘publish, or arrange for the publication of, such [environmental] information and advice as it considers appropriate’  (whatever that means).

We should be pressing for amendments as this Bill goes through its parliamentary stages.  It would be a good opportunity for the environmental movement to flex its muscles via our MPs, media etc, remembering that this is supposed to be the greenest Government ever.

Clause 81 says that the CAA should not have to disclose environmental information where it could refuse to were it to be subject to the FoI Act. But the Environmental Information Regulations are broader, particularly the way there are not some limits on the costs of making disclosure and the requirement to balance public interest when considering exemptions. Surely cl 81 should refer to the EIR not FoI…after all this clause is supposed to be about environmental information?
The comments from Wandsworth Borough Council are interesting:

3.23 A number of local authority respondents disagreed with the whole approach in section 7 wanting instead to see a root and branch review of the role of the aviation regulator:

“Notwithstanding our overriding objection in principal to both of these options this authority is of the opinion that the detail in Option 1 is ambiguous. The proposal as announced by the Secretary of State on 19th January 2009 to ensure that the aviation regulator would be given a new environmental duty (even though we doubt that the CAA is the right organisation to discharge this responsibility) is supported. However the proposals as now set out represent a downgrading of this commitment. The description of the new responsibilities as “general environmental objective” could result in the CAA having to do little more than demonstrate an intention. The word duty confers an obligation and responsibility. The council considers that this is particularly important in relation to the planned expansion of Heathrow in which the Secretary of State identified the CAA as having a central role in the release of any capacity beyond the current annual level of 480,000 air transport movements (ATMs).”

“The proposals do nothing as they stand to identify a single regulatory body which will have clear ownership of an overarching environmental duty for aviation. This lack of clarity has in no small part been responsible for the current air quality non compliance issues that affect Heathrow now and in the foreseeable future. In this council’s view anything less than a direct duty for the regulator for aviation will be ineffective and simply serve to maintain the status quo.”

“The proposals add nothing to the current policy vacuum that surrounds delivery of the government’s 2050 target for carbon reduction. The recent Climate Change Committee report has highlighted the need for government to reduce Air Traffic Movements from the growth that was identified as being necessary to plan for in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper. This may well require at some point in the future the aviation regulator to be free to take enforcement action in the future so as to limit growth at some airports. The aviation regulator therefore needs a clear mandate to act without undue interference and or influence from industry and / or government departments.”   (page 18 of http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/civil-aviation-bill/civil-aviation-bill-vol4-summary-responses.doc )

The consultation closed in March 2010. It was entitled  Regulating Air Transport: Consultation on Proposals to Update the Regulatory Framework for Aviation    It sought views on proposals to modernise the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA’s) regulatory framework.

The response from the Aviation Environment Federation  (March 2010) is at http://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/AEF_response_to_DfT_CAA_consultation.pdf  putting the case for the CAA having a greater role on environmental regulation for airports.  Two paragraphs from their response below:

“We consider it important that the new environmental duty is mandatory rather than voluntary on the part of the CAA. If the duty is to have any meaningful impact on the CAA’s day to day operations, it should become a systematic requirement for environmental impacts to be considered at every level. Were the CAA simply to be empowered to consider environmental impacts it would be possible for environmental concerns to be discounted in cases where there were budgetary shortages or where a conflict of interest arose between the interests of consumers of air travel and those of the public at large.”

“More generally, guidance is needed from central government on acceptable limits for environmental impacts at airports. We would not consider it appropriate for the CAA to have to make environmental judgements on, for example, noise or emissions at an airport level, but we can envisage a role for the CAA in regulating these impacts in line with government policy. There is evidence now that would allow government to set out maximum acceptable noise levels and/or noise levels at which compensation must be offered, and in future, the government may need to consider setting emissions caps at an individual airport level in order to achieve the target of a stabilisation of emissions at 2005 levels by 2050”    (page 4).

Greening puts passengers first

DfT   23.11.2011

Passengers’ needs are to be put first under new airports legislation published today by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.

The draft Civil Aviation Bill will replace the current economic regulation duties of the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers. The CAA will be given more flexibility to set performance measures at major airports, encourage investment in improvements and provide passengers and other airport users – such as those sending cargo by air – with more information about airline and airport performance.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said:

“The end user – in this case the needs of air passengers and businesses – must be at the heart of our transport networks. Whether going on holiday, flying for business or transporting goods by air, the customer experience at airports can make or break a trip.

“By and large passengers give good feedback about airports, but they also say they want things like more seating, better information and additional baggage carousels at busy times – these are exactly the matters that the CAA will be able to address more effectively under its new powers.

“This Bill couples our commitment to make our airports better rather than bigger with the Government’s wider agenda on better regulation. It also complements our ongoing work to produce a sustainable policy framework for aviation, a draft of which will be published next spring.”

The draft Bill is designed to modernise the key elements of how the industry is regulated and contribute to economic growth. It also extends to aviation security, the ‘user pays’ principle which exists elsewhere in the sector (e.g. safety regulation). This will involve the transfer of certain aviation security functions, such as monitoring and enforcement, from central Government to the CAA which charges the industry for its activities. However, the responsibility for setting aviation security policy and making aviation security directions to the industry will remain with the Secretary of State for Transport. It is estimated that this move could save UK taxpayers over £4m a year whilst seeing a better quality service delivered.

Other measures included in the draft Bill today include:

  • Giving the CAA a role in promoting better public information on customer service and environmental impacts.
  • A switch to a new licensing regime for larger airports: licensing – which is common in many regulated industries – allows greater flexibility than the current uniform system and enables the CAA to target regulatory activity where and when it is needed to protect the interests of consumers.
  • New and streamlined appeal processes that will improve access to justice for those affected by regulatory decisions.
  • A supplementary financing duty on the CAA which will help ensure that efficient airport licence holders can finance their activities.
  • Powers for the CAA to impose a range of penalties for breaching licence conditions (going up to 10% of an airport’s annual turnover) to better incentivise compliance and penalise poor performance.
  • Removing unnecessary central Government involvement and bureaucracy from the regulatory process.
  • Modernising the CAA’s governance and operations.

The Government had originally announced its intention to introduce this Bill in the next session of Parliament, however an opportunity has now arisen to introduce it earlier – most likely early next year. By publishing a draft at this stage, the Government aims to give the Transport Select Committee and wider stakeholders the opportunity to consider the Bill before it is brought before Parliament.

Much of the legislation surrounding aviation dates back to the 1980s and is in need of modernisation. It is possible that the scope of the Bill may be extended before it is introduced. One area which could be included is the reform of the Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (ATOL), following the recently finished consultation on measures to protect consumers better in the 21st century holiday market and help create a more level regulatory playing field for businesses.

Notes to editors

  1. The CAA currently has four duties for the purposes of economic regulation, they are:
    • to further the reasonable interests of users of airports within the UK, users being defined (in section 82 of the Airports Act) as airlines, passengers and other user of air transport services at the airport;
    • to promote the efficient, economic and profitable operation of such airports ;
    • to encourage investment in new facilities at airports in time to satisfy anticipated demands by the users of such airports; and
    • to impose the minimum restrictions that are consistent with the performance by the CAA of its functions under those sections.

    In addition, the CAA also is also required to take account of international obligations.

  2. The proposals set out today will replace these with a single primary duty and a limited number of further duties. These are:Primary dutyto promote the interests of existing and future consumers of passenger and freight services at UK airports, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition.Further duties
    • to secure, so far as it is economical to meet them, that all reasonable demands for airport services are met efficiently;
    • to ensure that licence holders are able to finance the activities which are subject to the relevant licence obligations;
    • to have regard to the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the provision of airport services;
    • to take account of guidance issued by the Secretary of State, and to assist in delivery of airport infrastructure consistent with the National Policy Statement on Airports, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so;
    • to have regard to the principles of Better Regulation, any other principles appearing to represent best regulatory practice and to consult with stakeholders, including airlines.
  3. The draft Civil Aviation Bill: An Effective Regulatory Framework for UK Aviationis available on the Department for Transport website
  4. We currently expect this regime will apply initially to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports
  5. The CAA will be publishing an example licence relating to economic regulation for stakeholder views today. This licence was commissioned from the CAA by the Transport Secretary to inform Parliamentary debate about the Bill. It will not be subject to Parliamentary approval. The example licence can be found on CAA’s website.


This document presents for pre-legislative consideration a draft Bill to help implement the Government’s plans for modernising key elements of the regulatory framework for civil aviation in the United Kingdom.

Download Draft Civil Aviation Bill documents



CAA to be given more powers

23 November, 2011 (ABTN)

The Civil Aviation Authority (Civil Aviation Authority (UK): Oversees and regulates all aspects of aviation in the UK. It was established under the Civil Aviation Act in 1972) will gain new powers to impose financial penalties on under-performing airports, under new airports legislation from the DfTDepartment for Transport: The UK government department responsible for the English transport network, as well as transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are not devolved..

Transport secretary Justine Greening has published a draft version of the new Civil Aviation Bill, which is expected to be introduced by parliament early next year.

The bill gives the Civil Aviation Authority additional responsibilities, including closer monitoring of airports.

Under the draft bill, the CAA will be able to impose “a range of penalties” for breaching licence conditions, up to 10% of an airport’s annual turnover.

The government hopes this will mean the CAA can “better incentivise compliance and penalise poor performance”.

Greening said the DfT’s new airports legislation was centred around the experience of the passenger.

“The end user – in this case the needs of air passengers and businesses – must be at the heart of our transport networks,” she said.

“Whether going on holiday, flying for business or transporting goods by air, the customer experience at airports can make or break a trip.”

According to Greening, passengers “by and large” give good feedback about airports, but want better information, additional baggage carousels during peak periods and more seating.

“These are exactly the matters that the CAA will be able to address more effectively under its new powers,” she said.

“This Bill couples our commitment to make our airports better rather than bigger with the Government’s wider agenda on better regulation.

“It also complements our ongoing work to produce a sustainable policy framework for aviation, a draft of which will be published next spring.”



Airlines welcome airport regulation reforms

23 November, 2011  (ABTN)

by Sara Turner

Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have spoken out in support of the government’s planned changes to the regulation of airports in the UK.

The DfT’s draft Civil Aviation Bill outlines how the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will be given more powers over airports, including being able to impose tough financial penalties when they underperform.

The reforms laid out in the bill have been welcomed by Carolyn McCall, Easyjet’s CEO.

“Easyjet strongly supports these reforms, which puts the passenger at the heart of aviation policy and recognises the key role airlines can play to deliver this outcome.”

She said giving the CAA the ability to impose penalties of up to 10% of an airport’s turnover was a particular boon.

“This means that they can discipline market abuse by airports in a more proportionate and effective way.”

Virgin Atlantic has also come out in support of the bill, saying the reforms are long overdue.

A spokeswoman for the airline said current airport regulation had “failed passengers”.

“Airport charges have been allowed to increase way above the rate of inflation,” she said, “hitting passenger pockets and completely ignoring the economic climate.

“Last winter’s snow showed that the performance of airports had not improved at the same rate. Regulation must produce better outcomes for our passengers and as the Bill enters Parliament.”



Evidence from

Members present:

Mrs Louise Ellman (Chair)

Steve Baker

Julie Hilling

Mr John Leech

Paul Maynard

Iain Stewart

Julian Sturdy

This is a short extract, showing the evidence from Brian Ross:

Witnesses: Brian Ross, Economics Adviser, AirportWatch, and John Moloney, Secretary, Department for Transport Trade Union Side, gave evidence.

Chair: Good morning, gentlemen. For our records, would you give your names and the names of the organisation that you represent?

John Moloney: My name is John Moloney. I am a civil servant, but I am here to represent three unions-Prospect, the First Division Association and PCS.

Brian Ross: I am Brian Ross. I apologise for my gravelly voice. I represent AirportWatch, the umbrella group that includes all the airport community groups around the UK and the national environmental organisations.

Q76 Chair: Mr Ross, why do you think that the CAA should be given the duty of environmental regulator?

Brian Ross: I would not go quite so far as to say that. This particular Bill is about economic regulation, and I have no quibble with that. Our concerns are very specific. Over the years, the CAA has had the discretion to allow the operators of regulated airports to invest in certain environmental measures and to allow the airports to recover the costs through airport charges. Under the Bill as drafted, it seems that the CAA will not have that discretion. Our particular concern is that the world has changed since 1985. We now have a much more competitive airline sector, with low-cost carriers looking to save every penny. Over the past 25 years the CAA has been able, quite happily and unchallenged, to allow environmental expenditure. Our fear is that, under the Bill, one of the more aggressive low-cost carriers might take the CAA to the High Court, saying that the CAA had no right to allow that expenditure; the legislation did not permit it to spend this money or at least to recover it. That is our worry.

Q77 Chair: Under the proposed legislation, what channels could consumer and environmental groups use to communicate their concerns to the CAA?

Brian Ross: I do not think that there are any formal channels. The CAA has historically operated stakeholder workshops. To be honest, it has been entirely helpful in trying to ensure that local community groups have had the opportunity to comment on proposals, consultations and so on. The new legislation does not make specific provision for that, but that is not particularly our concern. Our concern is to protect the CAA’s flexibility in the event of a legal challenge.

Q78 Chair: What is the biggest change that you would like to see in the Bill?

Brian Ross: It would simply be a supplementary duty for the CAA to “have regard to” the impact or the effect of airport operations on the environment and local communities. That supplementary duty was envisaged three years ago, when the Bill was first mooted, and exactly those words were envisaged. Strangely, when the Department for Transport published the Bill two weeks ago, the press release said that it included the environmental duty to have regard to the effect of airports upon the local environment and communities. However, it does not include that duty; I do not know why or when it came out, but it is not there.

Q79 Chair: Have you no idea why it was changed?

Brian Ross: I have a fairly good idea. When it went out to consultation, the airlines and airports resisted it strongly and they were worried that it could mean that the CAA would start to make environmental policy. That was their worry. They thought that it could lead to new restrictions upon them or new regulations, whereas our concern is simply to protect the status quo-to protect the CAA’s existing flexibility.


there is also a lot more evidence from the other witnesses at the above link.