The Environment Bill 2019-21 has completed it Committee Stage and had day one (of two) of its Report Stage in the House of Commons. This paper is a summary of what happened in the Committee and day one of Report Stage and how the Bill has changed. It considers key Government and Opposition amendments. Day two of Report Stage is scheduled to take place on 26 May 2021.
What is it?
An Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA) with a statutory right to be consulted on flight paths and other operating procedures was one of the recommendations of the Davies Commission into airport capacity, which reported in July 2015.
The Final Report said that an IANA “should be established with a statutory right to be consulted on flight paths and other operating procedures. The authority should be given statutory consultee status and a formal role in monitoring and quality assuring all processes and functions which have an impact on aircraft noise, and in advising central and local Government and the CAA on such issues”. [p32]
Further, the Commission recommended that the Government introduce a noise charge or levy to “incentivise airports to reduce noise and ensure that they make an appropriate contribution to local communities”. [p292] IANA should “advise on the exact design and weighting of a charge and provide guidance or direction on how funds raised are most fairly allocated with regard to noise impacts. This may include an assessment of pre-existing arrangements at different airports. Local people should be able to see clearly how funds are used in their local areas and should have real influence over how money is spent”. [p293]
The Commission listed a number of activities which it believed IANA could undertake:
- Provide statutory advice to the Secretary of State for Transport regarding proposed changes to Noise Preferential Routes.
- Provide statutory advice to the Secretary of State for Transport and the CAA in respect of the proper structure for noise compensation schemes.
- Provide statutory input to planning inquiries relating to airport infrastructure in respect of the appropriate controls that should apply in respect of aircraft noise.
- Work with the developers and operators of any new airport capacity as well as communities affected by the development to define a noise envelope to create a balance between aviation growth and noise control.
- Conduct research into the best means of monitoring and reporting aircraft noise, as well as its association with annoyance and impacts upon human health and their possible mitigation.
- Publish comparative assessments of airlines’ performance in reducing their noise impacts.
- Act as a statutory consultee in planning applications with respect to airport infrastructure or housing developments which would have an effect upon the population affected by airport noise.
- Mediate by request between airports and their local communities in disputes relating to noise monitoring, the functioning of airports’ advisory committees, and airports’ compliance with their noise action plans and, where appropriate, advise the CAA in respect of potential breaches of noise regulations. [p304]
What did the Environmental Audit Committee say about it?
In December 2015 the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published a report into the environmental aspects of the Commission’s Final Report. On noise, it recommended that:
- If the Government decides in favour of expansion it should put in place a framework to ensure that mitigating measures are introduced promptly. As part of efforts to restore trust and effective community engagement, IANA should be introduced in 2016 “even if the Government decides against Heathrow expansion”; and
- IANA would “need a more up to date understanding of people’s attitudes to noise if it is to be credible. One of the first tasks of such a body should be to undertake a survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise. The results of this survey should underpin both its own work and future Government policy on managing noise. In particular, they should form part of a piece of work to develop a set of metrics to assess noise impact”. [Paras 73 & 88]
Does the Government support it?
We do not know.
In his response to the Commission’s Interim Report, on 15 July 2014, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, said “the Government believe that it would be more appropriate to consider the role for such a body [IANA] alongside the Commission’s final recommendations on long-term capacity”. [cc66WS]
On 26 November 2015 the Shadow Aviation minister, Richard Burden said: “why cannot the Government now agree in principle with the Davies commission’s proposal for an independent aviation noise authority, with statutory consultation rights? That could be agreed now”. [c1597]
However, the Secretary of State made no reference to IANA in his statement on 14 December 2015.
Is it going to happen?
If the Government undertook to introduce an IANA along the lines that the Commission recommended, it would probably need statutory authority via primary legislation in Parliament, though this is not clear.
In response to a WPQ on 15 October 2015, the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, said: “Any decision to take forward such a body would be subject to consultation on its detailed functions”. [HC11429]
The Government has made no further comment on this matter to date.
HC Library briefing paper, Heathrow Airport, SN1136, 14 December 2015
EAC, The Airports Commission Report: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise (First Report of Session 2015–16), HC 389, 1 December 2015
Airports Commission, Final Report, 1 July 2015
HC Library briefing paper, Aviation: noise pollution, SN261, 5 June 2014
Airportwatch, “Concerns about the effectiveness of a new aviation noise authority – and the public’s trust in it”, 4 March 2015
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