CAA consults on its environmental role

The CAA is now consulting – until 12th April 2012 – on its ambition to help improve the environmental performance of UK aviation.  A final document is set for publication later in 2012. The CAA has only recently produced their Insight Note on “Aviation Policy for the Environment”.  Environmental issues cover carbon emissions, noise and local air pollution.  The CAA has not been tasked by the government to take on an environmental role, though in the Transport Committee on 13th December Theresa Villiers said that “there is no explicit inclusion (in the draft Civil Aviation Bill) of a duty to take on board environmental factors. That would not stop the CAA from taking a balanced approach….” The CAA questions are vague, but they have set themselves activities and desired outcomes by 2016 on which stakeholders can comment.

12.1.2012 (CAA website)
[The CAA – whose members are only airlines and travel companies –  says:]
Aviation is a key driver of growth in the UK, but without tackling its environmental impact, both globally and locally, it will not be able to fully realise its economic potential, according to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

In CAA and the Environment, a consultation published today, [consultation closes on 12th April 2012]  the CAA has set the foundations to meet its strategic ambition to develop its existing expertise to help aviation to improve its environmental performance.

Consultation Document CAA and the Environment can be found at         CAA & The Environment     Deadline 12th April 2012

 As part of its work to meet its environmental ambition, the CAA has set out four goals for its work:

• To contribute to a cleaner [presumably by the dreadful word “cleaner” they mean lower carbon per passenger, and more efficient though not lower in overall passengers as they want aviation to grow] and quieter aviation industry.
• To improve airspace design through new operational measures.
• To enhance consumer understanding by making information available to help them assess their environmental impact when choosing their flight.
• To influence the environment debate.

Andrew Haines, CAA Chief Executive, said: “The Government are clearly aware of how important aviation could be to the UK’s economic recovery, but unless the sector faces its environmental impact head-on, it will not be allowed to grow. Whether that impact is local, in terms of air quality or noise, or global like climate change, the CAA is determined to work with the sector to help it manage its environmental footprint and realise its potential growth.

“In recent weeks we have set out how important additional capacity is likely to be for air passengers in the coming decades, but that capacity has to be sustainable. Today’s document sets out how we will work with the aviation industry to help turn the idea of sustainable capacity expansion into reality, for the benefit of the consumer.”

The document also sets out the CAA’s current diverse environmental roles, covering: how environmental impacts are assessed as part of CAA airspace change process; the CAA role measuring noise around airports; CAA advice to Government on aviation’s environmental impacts and to the Environment Agency on emissions trading; and improving efficiency incentives through economic regulation to benefit the environment where possible.

The CAA is currently developing its environmental role in a number of different areas, for example recently publishing Aviation Policy For The Future, which offered Government a series suggestions to advance the debate about aviation noise nuisance.

The Government has also recently set out plans to legislate to give the CAA a duty to promote better information for the public about airline and airport performance and the environmental impact of aviation, to improve consumers’ ability to make informed choices and improve environmental performance.

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030 .

Follow the CAA on @UK_CA

Notes to Editors

1. The Consultation Document CAA and the Environment can be found at CAA & The Environment    [50 pages, with 7 general questions. Sections on noise, biofuels, carbon etc].

2. The consultation runs from 12 January 2012 until 12 April 2012. A final document is set for publication later in 2012.
3. The CAA plan to hold a workshop to discuss the consultation with interested stakeholders in March. Potential attendees should contact for more information.
4. Aviation Policy for the Future, and other recent CAA advice to Government as they develop their Aviation Policy Framework, can be found here: Sustainable Aviation Framework
5. The Draft Civil Aviation Bill contains proposals to give the CAA a duty to promote environmental information. More information can be found on the DfT website here Civil Aviation Bill
6. 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.    

The CAA produced 3 Insight Notes in the past month:

Aviation Policy for the Environment considers how UK aviation can grow without unacceptable environmental consequences in terms of climate change, noise and local air quality.

Hansard -There was an exchange on the environmental role of the CAA in the Transport Committee on 13th December 2011

House of COMMONS, Oral EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE the Transport Committee

Draft Civil Aviation Bill  – Tuesday 13 December 2011

Dame Deirdre Hutton, Andrew Haines and Iain Osborne


Evidence heard in Public Questions 85 – 194


Q 106. Dame Deirdre Hutton: It is worth adding that, as Chair, I have a letter from the Secretary of State which sets out the objectives she would like me to ensure the CAA fulfils. An environmental obligation is contained in that letter, so we do have environmental duties and powers coming at us from a range of different directions. I am afraid I do not have that letter to hand with me. It is available on the website, but I could let you have a copy if you would like it.

Q164 Jim Dobbin: Minister, you mentioned the environment in your opening statement. Of course it is high up the agenda now with the signing of the climate change agreement in Durban. Obviously, with the Governments who have signed that deal, you are going to have to take that into consideration. I am curious because a Department press release stated that the draft Bill had included a duty to have regard to the environment and local communities and that seems to have disappeared from the content of the Bill.

Mrs Villiers: The inclusion of that duty in the press release was an error. There is no explicit inclusion of a duty to take on board environmental factors. That would not stop the CAA from taking a balanced approach, in relation to decisions on investment, which has an environmental purpose. As I said in my opening statement, the Bill would require the CAA to take its decisions on the basis of what is in the interest of passengers. It is certainly in the interests of passengers for airports to be good corporate citizens and to take account of the environmental impact of the decisions they make. The current framework does not give the CAA an explicit right to take on board environmental factors when making decisions on economic regulation, but that has not stopped airports from making appropriate investments, for example, in schemes to mitigate the environmental impact of flying.

Q167 Jim Dobbin: My own view is that there will be an economic cost in relation to reducing carbon emissions. Therefore, it is associated with the economics of all of this and might well be something in the future that we have to look at.

Mrs Villiers: There is a potential cost associated with measures needed to deal with climate change, but there is absolutely no doubt that costs which an airport incurs as a result of laws and regulations requiring them to take action on environmental impacts are recoverable-can be included-as part of their regulatory asset base. It is very clear that they could spend money and use the regulatory asset base to deliver the improvements they need to make to comply with legal obligations on reducing both carbon emissions and addressing local environmental impacts.

Q168 Chair: You said, Minister, that the inclusion of the environmental duty in the press release was an error.

Mrs Villiers: It was, I am afraid.

Q169 Chair: What kind of error was it? Did the Government change its mind?

Mrs Villiers: The Government had decided on the content of the Bill and decided that a specific environmental duty was not necessary or appropriate. Unfortunately, a mistake was made when the press release went out in that the Government’s view on this was not reflected in the press release and an environmental duty was included. It was some time ago when the decision was made that a specific reference to environmental considerations was not appropriate in the context.

Q170 Chair: Was there an earlier draft which said there should be an environmental duty?

Mrs Villiers: The previous Government had proposed, in its consultation, to include such a duty. The current Government, for the reasons I have said-because we do not think economic regulation is the appropriate vehicle for this-decided that a specific environmental duty was not appropriate.

….. and there is more at

Greening puts passengers first – Draft Civil Aviation bill

23 November 2011 Department for Transport  

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.


The Pilling Review, in July 2008, recommended that:

 “the CAA should have a general statutory duty in relation to the environment with a clear policy framework from Government”


Sir Joseph Pilling’s review is at  (79 pages) 

with the section on the environment on pages 38 – 39

169. The review has received a wealth of evidence on the environment. Generally, stakeholders thought that the environment was a growing issue and it was important that aviation should develop in a sustainable way. The evidence was clear that Government had a strong role to play in setting a framework for the CAA’s environmental activities, rather than leaving the CAA to make trade-offs between environmental and other issues itself. Many thought that this should be done not only by giving the CAA a statutory duty or responsibility, but also through setting a policy framework or guidance. It was suggested, for instance, that current guidance could be more helpful on deciding whether to reduce flights over tranquil or populated areas.