Posted on October 30, 2012
30/10/12 for immediate use
HACAN East calls on the Government to make sure smaller airports like London City do not lose out in new aviation policy
The campaign group HACAN East has called on the Government to make sure smaller airports like London City do not lose out in its new aviation policy. The call coincides with the closing date of the Government’s public consultation on its policy (1). The final policy will be published in spring next year.
In its response to the consultation (2) HACAN East called on the Government not just to concentrate on the big three airports – Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick – but to also put in place regulations to protect residents at the smaller airports.
HACAN East said: “If the Government does not give greater direction to all the airports, possibly through the involvement of a body like the Civil Aviation Authority, it risks missing a real opportunity to bring all communities in from the cold. In particular, it will be letting down low-income communities like many in East London who don’t have the resources to deal with an unhelpful airport, an unsympathetic local authority and an antagonistic airport consultative committee”.
HACAN East also called for consolidated noise maps to be published for airports where residents are impacted by two airports.
HACAN East Chair John Stewart said: “At the moment we have the absurd situation where Heathrow and London City publish separate noise maps but there is no consolidated map for the very many people who are disturbed by aircraft from both airports.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). The consultation closes on 31st October. The full consultation can be found athttp://assets.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-35/draft-aviation-policy-framework.pdf This is the consultation on aviation policy. A final policy document is expected in spring 2013. Separately, the Government will be taking evidence on the future airport capacity needs of the UK through a Commission headed by Sir Howard Davies. The exact remit for the Davies Commission is expected to be published shortly.
(2). Key points from the HACAN East response can be found at http://www.hacaneast.org.uk/2012/10/government-aviation-policy-consultation/
Posted on October 29, 2012
The consultation on the Government's new aviation policy, due to be published in spring 2013, closed on October 31st. A separate study into airport capacity in the UK will be undetaken by an Aviation Commission headed up by Howard Davies. It's remit will be published shortly.
Below are the key points HACAN East made in response to the consultation
We welcome the clear statement in the document that the UK is at present very well connected with the rest of the world. This is backed up by all independent surveys.
The consultation has attempted an honest appraisal of the contribution of aviation to the economy. However, there are two areas which need further work:
- There needs to be an estimate of the cost to the economy of two things: one, the tax-breaks the aviation industry enjoys in terms of tax-free fuel and its exemptions from VAT; and, two, the economic costs of the noise, air pollution and climate change gases aviation produces.
- The figures around the tourism deficit. We applaud the fact that for the first time, to our knowledge, the possibility of a tourism deficit is acknowledged. However further work is required; in particular, we are sceptical about the “huge” contribution which ABTA claims travellers flying abroad make to the economy through their spending in this country associated with the trip. The UK Tourism Satellite Account, used in compiling the consultation document, is cautions about this spending: “One area where data remains poor is in assessing spend by UK residents travelling abroad before they leave the country…….. ”. This needs further work.
We do not think that a convincing case has been made that climate change emissions can be reduced by simply relying on unproven cleaner technology, a (weak) EU Emissions Trading System and the Single European Sky Agreement. The Government needs to use every tool at its disposal. It needs to include aviation in its carbon budget and it needs to endorse the target of cutting aviation emissions to at least their 2005 levels by 2050.
The Committee on Climate Change has made clear that aviation can only expand by 60% and then only if all other sectors cut their emissions by 90% and fuel efficiency is increased by 37% (by 2050). That is a tall order. It would be sensible to plan for less than a 60% increase.
We welcome the recognition of the potential of tele-conferencing and of rail as alternatives to air travel. Rail would need to be affordable as well as fast.
On noise we think it is a big mistake that consultation document is suggesting that many of the proposals only apply to the three designated airports (Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick) or, in some cases, just to the larger airports. At many of the non-designated and smaller airports, such as London City, it is suggesting leaving noise management to planning conditions imposed by the local authority, implementation of the noise action plans and “voluntary arrangements” through the influence of the consultative committees.
There is no guarantee that this approach will work. Even with the stronger, more representative airport consultative committees that the Government envisages, there can be no guarantee that airport operators will cooperate with local communities without government direction and/or the involvement of an outside body such as the Civil Aviation Authority. The problem is made worse by the fact that the local authorities, the planning authority, often own or part-own the airport.
Residents affected by London City Airport feel unrepresented. The airport is unresponsive to them, the London Borough of Newham, the planning authority, has traditionally favoured expansion and the consultative committee in urgent need of reform.
There is little logic to the current situation. As the table below shows, the number of people affected by noise at many of the non-designated airports is larger than the numbers affected at two of the designated airports, Stansted and Gatwick.
Numbers of people living with the 55 Lden contour
Airport No of people % of people affected across Europe
Heathrow 725,500 28.5%
Manchester 94,000 3.7%
Glasgow 63,600 2.5%
Birmingham 47,900 1.9%
Aberdeen 16,300 0.6%
Edinburgh 15,000 0.5%
London City 12,200 0.5%
Southampton 12,100 0.5%
Gatwick 11,900 0.5%
East Midlands 10,500 0.4%
Stansted 9,400 0.4%
Luton 8,600 0.3%
Leeds Bradford 8,400 0.3%
Newcastle 5,900 0.2%
Liverpool 5,700 0.2%
Totals 1,044,300 41.0%
Source: European Commission, CAA. Figures based on the populations
The 55 Lden measurement used is a reasonably good measurement of noise annoyance but it can give a distorted picture of airports which have few or no night flights. Daytime-only readings would see London City Airport and Belfast City Airport (George Best Airport) move up the table.
If the Government does not give greater direction to all the airports, possibly through the involvement of a body like the Civil Aviation Authority, it risks missing a real opportunity to bring all communities in from the cold. In particular, it will be letting down low-income communities like many in East London who don’t have the resources to deal with an unhelpful airport, an unsympathetic local authority and an antagonistic consultative committee (HACAN East’s application to join the London City Committee was refused despite HACAN having played a constructive role over several decades on the Heathrow Consultative Committee).
The Government should not retain the 57 dB LAeq, 16h contour as the way of measuring noise. It does not tally with reality. For example, at London City, places like Leyton and Leytonstone, both these days impacted by aircraft noise, fall outside this 57 decibel contour. Retaining this contour gives a false impression of the real number of people impacted by the noise. It should either go for 55 Lden or 54 Leq.
The Government or CAA should produce annual noise maps – using either 55 Lden or 54 Leq – for the designated airports. But we also believe non-designated airports should also be required to produce such maps. It both would make things transparent for the local community and form a sound basis for policy-making.
Consolidated maps should be required for airports where residents are impacted by two airports – such as Heathrow and London City.
Measures to cut air pollution in the vicinity of any airport are essential, particularly if there is the very real possibility of them exceeding the EU legal limits or if they are a serious hazard to local people living close to the airport.
Perhaps more than anything else, respite is what residents in East and South East London crave. They could never have expected in 1987 when City Airport opened that they would be living under a sky of sound 25 years later: more Heathrow aircraft, more City planes – with the noisier jets increasing replacing the quieter turbo-props. For some residents, life has become intolerable yet many of them do not have the option of moving away. Some respite is all they can hope for. Ways of making respite periods feasible should be a priority.