Government to establish commission to probe aviation noise impacts

The government is to create a commission to monitor the noise impacts of new 'airspace and infrastructure changes' and give the transport secretary a new call-in power where these could have noise impacts, it has been announced.

Aviation: new noise monitoring body announced
Aviation: new noise monitoring body announced

The announcements were made today as the government published a fresh consultation on its draft airports national policy statement (NPS), which will guide the planning process for the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

In a response to a separate consultation on the design and use of airspace, published in February, the government said it will be establishing a new independent noise body "to ensure communities around our airports have a say in airspace changes which may affect them".

The document says that the new body, which will be established by spring 2018, would "provide advice on how best to manage noise in upcoming airspace and infrastructure changes".

The response says the government recognises that "there is a lack of public confidence in the current compliance and enforcement regime around noise, as shown by the number of responses to our consultation on this theme".

For this reason, it says, the government will review this and "consider how we can make better use of existing powers which government, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or airports have".

Meanwhile, a new call-in power would give the transport secretary a role in deciding on any airspace changes initiated by the CAA. The government says this "is designed to rebuild the trust lost in the industry by communities and provide democratic accountability for the most significant decisions".

The consultation response document says that anybody should be able to ask for the secretary of state to call in a proposal. If an airspace change proposal meets the criteria, it adds, ministers will have discretion over whether or not to call it in.

The paper says that the only environmental trigger for such claims would be the likely noise impact on local communities.

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