CAA produces its 2nd Insight Note, on aviation and the environment

The CAA has published its Insight note in relation to climate change, noise and air pollution. This is one of 3 documents in which the regulator sets out its views (its members are the aviation industry). Its aim, therefore, is to find ways to mitigate the problems while allowing UK aviation to grow. The CAA says that without a global ‘cap and trade’ scheme, the EU ETS is the next best option for meeting the carbon challenge. On noise they acknowledge that there needs to be much more recognition of the extent of the problem but only add the anodyne comment that they hope to reduce “the numbers of people affected by noise and encouraging industry to better engage with their local communities to try to create consensus in support of sustainable development”.

“Aviation Policy for the Environment” is the 2nd of 3 Insight Notes to be published by the CAA in December 2011 and January 2012. It was proceeded by “Aviation Policy for Consumers” published on 14 December (Link: and will be followed on 5 January 2012 by “Aviation Policy for the Future”. These documents are produced in relation to the next phase of the government consultation on its future aviation policy, called the “Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation”.

The Scoping Response and all three of the Insight Notes are available on the CAA

[Bearing in mind that the CAA is funded entirely by the aviation industry, and is not a neutral UK government body] 


Meeting the environmental challenge vital for consumers to continue to benefit from strong choice and good value in aviation

20.12.2012 (CAA press release)

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today said that aviation’s sustainable development does not have to be held back by a deadlock between its economic and its environmental impact.

The aviation regulator set out its view in Aviation Policy for the Environment, the second of three Insight Notes the CAA is publishing to help the Government frame its aviation policy for consultation next Spring. The Insight Note covers the environmental impact of aviation on carbon emissions, noise and local air quality.

The CAA identifies that current capacity problems in the South East have partly been caused by an inability to move beyond local community concerns over aviation noise, which highlights the need for a radical approach to the issue to allow capacity increases.
Iain Osborne, CAA Group Director of Regulatory Policy, said: “To be able to develop sustainably aviation has to embrace and tackle both the noise nuisance that impacts communities around airports and climate change caused by carbon emissions.

“Dealing with the noise issue demands a two-sided approach. We need to consider how to reduce noise, but also recognise that it will still have a big impact on people living close to airports. So Government noise policy must find ways to help airport owners and local communities to engage more constructively on noise.

“On climate change the ideal solution is global, but an EU-wide approach is a highly valuable transition. We advise the Government to continue to push for a global emissions trading scheme and support the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System and to set up a policy framework that supports industry in further technological and operational solutions to reduce noise. There is also an important role for the CAA in providing trusted, reliable information to consumers about CO2 emissions performance to drive improvements.”

The Note focuses on aviation noise nuisance and aviation’s climate change impacts, where the CAA has considerable experience, and suggests ways forward for Government. The other major environmental issue aviation must address is Local Air Quality, which is not covered in detail as it is not a current area of CAA expertise.

Aviation Noise
Aviation noise is likely to be a significant concern surrounding the development of any new capacity, which is likely to be vital to secure choice and value for consumers in future. To meet that concern and manage sustainable capacity development anywhere in the UK will require Government to lead a more constructive and inclusive debate on aviation noise than is happening at present.

Noise is a local issue and policies need to be applicable at the local level to provide a robust platform for the aviation policy. The CAA recommends an approach to aviation noise within the policy that focuses both on reducing the numbers of people affected by noise and encouraging industry to better engage with their local communities to try to create consensus in support of sustainable development.

The CAA suggests it may be possible to set out a noise limit for airports, within which growth would be allowed, to reflect that it is aircraft noise that damages local communities’ quality of life rather than aircraft themselves, so where noise is reduced, flight numbers could be allowed to increase.

Aviation noise at Heathrow has reduced significantly over time, with technological improvements mitigating increasing flight frequency. The numbers of people affected dropped by 60% between 1988 and 2010 and the total area affected shrank by two-thirds. However, in spite of these reductions Heathrow still accounts for more than one in four people in Europe affected by aviation noise.

Climate Change
On climate change the CAA suggest that without a global ‘cap and trade’ scheme, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is the next best option for meeting the carbon challenge. What’s more, there are significant benefits to be drawn from operational and technical measures to combat climate change, such as modernising airspace. Initiatives which the CAA worked on include new green incentives for NATS, pioneering the Future Airspace Strategy and promoting Continuous Descent Approaches and Continuous Climb Departures.

Notes to Editors
1. Aviation Policy for the Environment is available on the CAA website here:
2. Today’s Insight Note follows the publication of the CAA’s response to the Department for Transport’s Aviation Policy Framework Consultation (Link:
3. Aviation Policy for the Environment is the second of three Insight Notes to be published by the CAA in December and January 2012. It was proceeded by Aviation Policy for Consumers (Link:, published on 14 December and will be followed on 5 January 2012 by Aviation Policy for the Future.
4. World Economic Forum data can be found in its Global Competitiveness Report 2011-12 (link:
5. The CAA is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency.



(These are just the main points, on each of where there is more in the report)


• The aviation sector will need to address and mitigate itsenvironmental impacts in the areas of climate change, noise and local air quality if aviation consumers are to continue to enjoy current levels of choice and value.

• The development of the Sustainable Aviation Framework creates an opportunity to develop a policy framework based on a clearly defined set of desired outcomes in terms of each of the environmental challenges faced.

• Government should ensure that intervention to address environmental challenges takes place at the level where it is most effective and proportionate.

• Where policy intervention is appropriate, measures should be designed in a way which
maximises their effectiveness and efficiency.

• The Framework should be based on robust information and recognise the trade-offs inherent in the formulation of policy to address environmental challenges.



• Further improvements in the CO2 emissions performance of the sector remain a priority.

• The aviation sector faces strong commercial incentives to reduce CO2 emissions, both through the cost of fuel and the internalisation of the environmental costs of carbon emissions through the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Nevertheless, more could be done to encourage further improvements in performance.

• The effectiveness of any policy measures will continue to be dictated by their design and the UK’s success in building consensus on the desirability of action at the global level.

• The provision of trusted, reliable information to consumers and other stakeholders may have an important role to play in influencing consumer behaviour and incentivising improved performance.

• Climate change is a global challenge. The Government should continue to promote and pursue a coordinated global solution for the aviation sector;

• There is considerable debate about the merits of including aviation in EU ETS and an ongoing need to provide objective information to help inform these discussions.

• Despite the challenges to the inclusion of aviation in EU ETS, this offers the next-best solution

• Setting national carbon targets for aviation or mandatory targets for the uptake of biofuels in addition to UK participation in EU ETS would be likely to limit the efficacy of pan-sectoral incentives and could lead to a net increase in carbon as a consequence.

• However, technical and operational measures, in particular the modernisation of UK airspace, offer significant potential to improve the UK’s performance on aviation emissions.

• Aviation noise is, in many ways, the converse of climate change. As the impacts are often
concentrated on local populations, any policy measures should ideally address local conditions and seek to engage local decision-makers.

• Heathrow accounts for more than one quarter of people affected by aviation noise in Europe, based on the European standard measure of 55LDen. There are issues related to aviation noise at a number of other UK airports.

• Recent decades have seen considerable progress in reducing noise generated by aircraft. This trend has been driven by technological improvements and controls on the expansion of aircraft operations at selected airports.

• The development of the aviation policy framework presents an opportunity to develop a new, twin-track approach to noise policy focused on two high-level outcomes:

– seeking continued reductions in the number of people affected by noise; and
– encouraging better engagement with communities in order to achieve greater consensus in support of sustainable development of the sector

• Technological improvements are expected to contribute to further reductions in UK aviation’s ‘noise footprint’ in the future.

• The complexity of the available information on aircraft noise and its impact is one of the
significant barriers to better engagement on noise issues.

– Measuring and modeling aviation noise in order to assess its impact is a challenging task but one that is essential to developing robust policy and sound decision-making.

– Improvements in the information that is provided to the public about noise impacts may
have an important part to play in facilitating more constructive debate between the
aviation sector and communities affected by aviation noise, as well as incentivising
progress in aircraft noise performance.

• It may be possible to define or set a ‘noise envelope’ within which aviation growth would be permitted, as technology and operations reduce noise from aircraft.  It would be fundamental for clear outcomes to be established in order to ensure that the design of the ‘noise envelope’ sets appropriate incentives.

• Policy decisions on the approach to airspace regulation can have a significant impact on the way that noise is distributed. The decision on whether to favour dispersion or concentration of flight paths is of particular importance. The Government has an opportunity to clarify its policy in this area.

• The operational procedures employed by airports and airlines can have a considerable influence on the level of noise created, the impact of the noise and the populations affected. A number of  alternative practices could be employed to reduce noise emissions.

• Economic instruments could play a greater part in dealing with noise, consistent with the
’polluter pays’ principle.

• The aviation policy framework offers an opportunity to explore new ways of encouraging
improved engagement between airports and their local communities.

• The policy framework should therefore look to generate a solution that offers more effective channels of recourse to those that remain affected by aircraft noise.

• The current legislative framework governing air quality is generally considered to be credible and robust. There does not appear to be any merit in proposing amendments to the existing arrangements.

• Indeed, there may be lessons learned from the outcome-based, non-sectoral approach to air quality that could be useful in addressing other environmental impacts, for example as part of an alternative approach to noise policy.


Graph on Page 15:

UK aviation emissions of CO2 have doubled since 1990.

Source: CCC, Progress Report, 2011.Emissions calculated on bunker fuels basis.       (1990 – 2009)

 [While emissions from most other sectors in the EU have been falling, those from airlines have doubled since 1990 and could triple by 2020, European Commission figures show.]

[During the period from 2000 to 2010 alone, the number of passengers carried worldwide increased by 45%].

see earlier

CAA (whose membership is airlines and travel companies) says London has good connectivity now, but will need more airport capacity in future

December 15, 2011

The CAA, whose membership is air travel companies and operators, has produced an “insight note” to add to its contribution to input into the government’s work on developing a new aviation policy for the UK. There will be another major consultation on this next spring. The CAA says that whereas London has good connectivity now, “We conclude that choice, value and resilience are all likely to be affected in the absence of additional aviation capacity.” ie. The airlines and the tour operators want more airport capacity, and the CAA is lobbying for them.   Click here to view full story…