Civil Aviation Bill passed 2nd reading and now at Committee stage

 On 30th January the Civil Aviation Bill had its 2nd reading in Parliament.  It will be in its Committee Stage until 15th March, and written submissions can be made until then. The Bill’s purpose it to legislate on regulation of operators of dominant airports and determine the powers and functions of the CAA. This includes its remit on aviation security, airport charges, services provided at airports and the service given to air passengers.  However, it contains very little on environmental matters, including noise. It is important that there should be an environmental duty in the context of economic regulation, so the CAA is not just focused on the rights of passengers, but also has environmental responsibilities. There also needs to be a more general community duty for the CAA. looking at the welfare of people being overflown or affected by airports, not only the passengers. 

Although this is currently only an issue for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, the CAA will have the statutory power to price regulate any UK airport handling more than 5 mppa and so another ten or so airports could potentially be affected.


Second reading of the Civil Aviation Bill, now have your say

31 January 2012

Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening, introduced the second reading of the Civil Aviation Bill in the House of Commons on Monday 30 January.

The Bill passed without a vote and will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee. A Carry-over motion was agreed which allows a Bill that has not received Royal Assent to resume its progress in a new session of Parliament without having to start from the beginning.

Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle, responded on behalf of the Opposition.

Watch and read the second reading debate and the views expressed by MPs on Parliament TV and in Commons Hansard.

Have your say

The Bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee for scrutiny and there is a call for written evidence.

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Government’s Civil Aviation Bill? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

Guidance for submitting written evidence

Deadline for submissions

The Committee is able to receive written evidence from Monday 30 January, when the Bill passes the Second Reading Stage; and will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 15 March. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration. The Public Bill Committee is expected to meet for the first time onTuesday 21 February.

After the Committee stage, the Bill will pass to the Lords.

Summary of the Bill

To make provision about the regulation of operators of dominant airports; to confer functions on the Civil Aviation Authority under competition legislation in relation to services provided at airports; to make provision about aviation security; to make provision about the regulation of provision of flight accommodation; to make further provision about the Civil Aviation Authority’s membership, administration and functions in relation to enforcement, regulatory burdens and the provision of information relating toaviation; and for connected purposes.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation on the Civil Aviation Bill and find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Draft Civil Aviation Bill

On the 23 November 2011, the Department for Transport published 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.

On 19 January 2012 the House of Commons Transport Select Committee published a report on the Draft Civil Aviation Bill.



Briefing from Stop Stansted Expansion:

Civil Aviation Bill

 The Civil Aviation Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on 30th January and is now in Committee.

SSE are concerned that the Bill does not require the CAA, when exercising its economic regulatory functions, to have any regard to the effect of airport operations on the environment and local communities.

This is contrary to what was originally proposed and it seems to have been a late omission because it was included in the Department for Transport press release which accompanied the publication of the draft Bill on23 November 2011.

It is right that the Bill gives the CAA – in its economic regulatory role – a clear primary focus on passengers.

We do however believe that the environment should feature amongst the CAA’s supplementary duties. In the absence of an environmental duty, the CAA may not in future be able to allow airport operators to recover discretionary environmental expenditure.  Indeed if they did allow such expenditure to be recovered, there would be the risk of a legal challenge from an airline user.  The inclusion of a supplementary environmental duty in the Bill would at least provide the CAA with a basis for defending such a legal challenge.

AirportWatch, the umbrella organisation which represents airport community groups across theUK, gave oral evidence on the Draft Bill to the House of Commons Transport Committee, based on the attached submission.  The Transport Committee’s report on the Draft Bill shared the concern we have expressed above:

“3. Without giving the CAA a supplementary duty on the environment in relation to its economic regulation role, there is some risk that airports may be reluctant to invest in improving environmental performance.  Whilst, as the Minister says, there may be “absolutely no doubt” about measures taken to comply with statutory environmental obligations, there remains a doubt about whether the costs of discretionary measures, such as improved public transport access, can be recovered by airports in charges to airlines. (Paragraph 38)”  

The main argument against giving the CAA a supplementary environmental duty appears to be a concern amongst Ministers that this would create an uneven playing field, because only a limited number of airports are subject to economic regulation (currently just Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted).

Giving evidence to the Transport Committee, the Transport Minister cited the example of BirminghamAirport, which is not subject to economic regulation, deciding to invest in environmental mitigation because it was in its business interests to do so.

However, in such circumstances, Birmingham Airport would not need the CAA’s agreement to increase its airport charges in order to recover the cost of this type of investment whereas a regulated airport would need the CAA’s permission to recover such costs.

If the CAA did not have an environmental duty, it would be unable to allow cost recovery and the ultimate effect would be to deter regulated airports from investing in measures to reduce the impacts of their operations on the environment and local communities.

We are therefore seeking two amendments to the Bill:    (  Bill )

Section 1(3): In performing its duties under subsections (1) and (2) the CAA must have 
regard to—

Add another point, to include:

the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the provision of airport operation services at the airport to which the licence relates

and also in the section 

Section 2 (4): Matters which the Secretary of State must have regard to:


the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the provision of airport operation services at the airport to which the licence relates



The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) will be giving evidence to the Committee on 21st February.  They have produced a briefing for MPs.


Comments on the Civil Aviation Bill:

The Civil Aviation Bill as it now stands would put into statute many of the key conclusions of the committee on economic regulation, including the proposals that in its role as economic regulator, the CAA’s primary duty should be towards passengers, and that an airport licensing regime should be introduced. The Bill fails, however, to reflect two important recommendations from the Pilling Review, namely that the Civil Aviation Act 1982 be amended to clarify that the CAA’s duties should extend to the general public and not just to the ‘aviation community’, and that the CAA should be given ‘a general statutory duty in relation to the environment’.


The CAA needs a clear mandate to deliver Government policy on environment

Environmental considerations will, the Government says, be at the heart of the new UK aviation policy and the CAA has already begun to consider its role on environmental policy. Its recent ‘insight notes’ (see below), however, commenting on various policy issues, come very close to explicitly challenging the Government on airport capacity in the south east, and make public recommendations regarding key environmental policies on which the government yet to state a view. As the industry’s regulator, the CAA should remain impartial and focus delivering Government policy, supported by detailed guidance from DfT on how to balance competing objectives.


To ensure that environmental thinking is mainstreamed within the CAA, its existing environmental work needs to be supported with the appropriate regulatory framework

Two of the CAA’s insight notes, mentioned above, call openly for increased airport capacity. The other, on environment, calls for better progress in terms of minimising environmental impacts alongside this. But the approach of both the last Government and the Coalition  has been different, recognising that in order to deliver environmental objectives, aviation growth and airport development may need to be constrained. There is clearly a need to ensure that the CAA’s environmental work does not fall into its own silo, but is put at the heart of the organisation



The Bill should lay the groundwork for the possibility of future transfer of responsibility for environmental work to the CAA

Given the current political climate, it seems likely that the Government may look increasingly to the CAA to deliver some research or administrative aspects of environmental policy (as has already taken place with respect to Public Safety Zone policy, for example). In the absence of a clear framework of public interest and a clearly defined relationship between the CAA the Government, however, there is a danger that these areas of policy may disappear from public scrutiny, or be addressed by the CAA in a way that is not consistent with Government objectives.


Civil Aviation Bill – on powers for the CAA – introduced into Parliament

Date added: January 22, 2012

TThe Government’s Civil Aviation Bill, the purpose of which is to update the economic regulation duties and powers of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has begun its passage through Parliament. These new powers will put passengers at the heart of how the UK’s major airports are run. The Civil Aviation Bill (which was earlier referred to as the Airport Economic Regulation Bill) will replace the current economic regulation duties of the CAA with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers. The Bill is designed to modernise the key elements of how the industry is regulated and contribute to economic growth.

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CAA consults on its environmental role

Date added: January 12, 2012

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.

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The CAA (owned by airlines) produces advice to government to increase capacity in the south east

Date added: January 10, 2012

TThe CAA has now produced the third of its three “Insight Papers” for the DfT. It hopes these will influence the formation of new UK aviation policy, on which a public consultation will start in March. The CAA is not a neutral government agency; its membership is entirely airlines and air travel companies, and all its funding comes from them. It is therefore entirely biased in favour of aviation growth. The latest Insight Note, entitled “Aviation Policy for the Future” wants more airport capacity in the south east. It also wants policies to keep the price of flying cheap, and stresses the importance of aviation growth to the UK’s economic prosperity, while keeping remarkably silent on the impact of air travel in taking UK money out of the country. It includes strange suggestions on noise like introducing a cap and trade system, and increasing the degree of community trust in airports.

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