Aviation noise consultation to launch

Plans to consult on the creation of an independent aviation noise watchdog will not delay a decision over expanding runway capacity in the South East, Department for Transport has claimed.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones has confirmed in Parliament that a consultation on national airspace and noise policy would begin later in the year to examine, among other issues, the potential role of an independent noise authority.

He said: “Department for Transport officials have engaged with stakeholders and are working through the details of the functions envisaged for a noise body. It is expected that this will be consulted on by the end of this year.”

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “We support the idea of an independent noise authority and have already moved to establish an independent Noise Management Board in the Gatwick area which includes community representatives”.

But he added: “Action on airport expansion is long overdue and this consultation should not be allowed to delay a final decision.”

Government is expected to finally decide on the issue of airport expansion this summer.

A Heathrow Airport spokesman also backed formation of a noise watchdog and emphasised that the airport does not believe the consultation is likely to affect any decision over expansion.

Creation of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority was among the measures recommended by Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission in its final report in July 2015.

It suggested that the body should provide statutory advice to the Secretary of State regarding proposed changes to preferential routes and the proper structure for noise compensation schemes.

It also recommended that the authority should work with communities affected by development to create a balance between aviation growth and noise control.

A Department for Transport spokesman said this week: “We are considering the Airports Commission’s recommendations relating to aviation noise at a national level, including the potential for an independent aviation noise body. No decisions have yet been made, but we expect to launch a consultation later this year.”