The Government has a number of consultations on the use of airspace around Gatwick and other London airports. Here you can find out more.
Department for Transport night flying consultation
The consultation on night flight restrictions at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted closed on 28 February 2017. The original DfT intent was to have announced the consultation outcomes and the new regime in time for the winter season 2017/18. However, the general election will have an impact on the introduction of any new night flight regime and we are waiting for a decision from the DfT on the timing of any new regime.
In relation to Gatwick Airport, the consultation document proposed, among other things, the following:
- A five year regime until October 2022
- Create a new noise category to capture the majority of aircraft that are currently exempt from the night flight restrictions
- Make no changes to the movement limits
- Set the noise quota (referred to as ‘Quota Counts’ or ‘QC’) at a level which incentivises the use of quieter aircraft
Gatwick Airport supports the proposed policy objective of encouraging the use of quieter aircraft technology to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night along with most of the proposals put forward in the consultation, but not those relating to reductions in quota limits.
In summary, our response states that we:
- Support the proposal for a five year regime
- Support the proposal to recognise a new QC/0.125 category
- Support the proposal to include all QC/0 aircraft in the movement limit
- For Gatwick this will mean drawing in some existing small business jet flights into the current air traffic movement count which introduces a small reduction to the night air traffic movement count
- Do not support a 20% reduction in the noise QC limit at Gatwick or further annual reductions in the noise QC limit at the airport over the regime period.
- The consultation suggested a 20% reduction. However, when taking into account improvements in on time performance, the rate of change in the fleet mix, increase in long haul routes and uncertainty over fleet replacement this would introduce punitive night capacity constraints.
- Proposed a step reduction in the QC limit of 5% in Summer 2017 but with no taper thereafter.
- We believe that further consideration should be given to the role that airport charges can play in meeting the environmental objective *
- Propose no change to the Winter QC limit or taper thereafter.
* Gatwick Airport has undertaken a comprehensive review of the structure of its aircraft noise charges and a new structure of charges took effect from 1 April 2017 which recognises the wide range of noise performance from aircraft operating at the airport. We believe that this new charge structure will incentivise the use of quieter aircraft, particularly during the sensitive night period when higher noise charges will apply.
House of Commons call for evidence on airspace modernisation
Gatwick responded to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry on airspace management and modernisation.
The Committee was particularly interested to receive submissions on:
- The role of Government in facilitating improvements to the airspace
- The need for airspace modernisation
- The essential changes that need to be made to UK airspace, particularly those associated with the development of an additional runway in the South East
- Progress of the CAA’s Future Airspace Strategy in achieving its core objectives
- The barriers to modernisation of airspace
- The effectiveness and adequacy of engagement with affected communities when planning and introducing airspace changes
- The merits of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority
Draft Airports National Policy Statement
The draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation has opened and sets out:
- The need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England
- Why government believes that need is best met by a north-west runway at Heathrow Airport
- The specific requirements that the applicant for a new north-west runway will need to meet to gain development consent
The policy statement is subject to public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny.
The government will consider all responses to the consultation. Following the consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, if the Secretary of State decides to proceed, he will lay a final Airports National Policy Statement before Parliament. If this is successful, he will then designate the final Airports National Policy Statement.
Airspace Policy Consultation
The Department for Transport has opened the consultation on ‘Reforming policy on the design and use of UK airspace to run in tandem with the draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation.
The proposals are designed to balance the interests of all involved and build trust in how noise is handled.
The Department for Transport is therefore consulting on proposals to:
- Support the reform of airspace, thereby maximising the economic and social benefits of aviation
- Minimise the negative local impacts of aviation
The Department for Transport is seeking comment on proposals to update policy on the management of UK airspace including:
- The role of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) to ensure noise impacts are openly considered
- Providing industry with the ability to assess noise impacts and guidance to help them manage change more effectively
- Bringing compensation policy for airspace changes in line with policy on changes to aviation infrastructure
- Greater flexibility for London’s major airports, so they can adapt noise management to the needs of their local communities
The policy principles set out in the consultation document will influence decisions, including how:
- Local communities can have their say on airspace matters
- Industry should take into account the impacts on local communities and act to reduce them
The draft ‘Air Navigation Guidance on Airspace and Noise Management and Environmental Objectives’ shows how these policy principles could be put into place.