Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 533-539)

MR PAUL HAMBLIN, MR LONEK WOJTULEWICZ AND COUNCILLOR RUTH CADBURY

1 FEBRUARY 2006

  Chairman: I begin with some housekeeping and Members of Parliament having an interest to declare.

  Clive Efford: Member of the Transport and General Workers Union.

  Graham Stringer: Member of Amicus.

  Chairman: Member of ASLEF.

  Mrs Ellman: Member of the Transport and General Workers' Union.

  Q533 Chairman: Those of you who have given evidence before will know that the House of Commons does rather sacrifice status for straightforward acoustics, so please speak up. May I ask you first to identify yourselves?

  Mr Hamblin: I am Paul Hamblin. I am Head of Transport and Natural Resources at CPRE.

  Mr Wojtulewicz: I am Lonek Wojtulewicz, and I am an officer of Leicestershire County Council, Head of the Planning Section.

  Cllr Cadbury: I am Councillor Ruth Cadbury, lead member on the Council's Executive on aviation issues at the London Borough of Hounslow.

  Q534  Chairman: Did any of you have anything you wanted to say briefly before we begin?

  Cllr Cadbury: As the lead councillor at Hounslow on aviation issues, I represent a deprived urban community next to Heathrow, and I pass maps around. Whilst many residents are economically dependent on the airport, nearly 250,000 people in West London live within the 57 dBA contour, which WHO defines as the onset of serious noise disturbance—day and evening. Flight numbers have doubled in about 20 years and our community suffers from night flight noise, disrupted education, air pollution and traffic congestion, yet there are minimal mitigation measures that benefit our community. We believe there should be fully funded mitigation measures. Your inquiry into the work of the CAA is most welcome as it allows us to comment on the weaknesses in the current regulatory regime. The CAA currently has a statutory responsibility for the safety and health of the aviation community but it does not have a clear role to regulate noise. We believe the CAA should extend its remit to include the impact of aviation on the wider population, particularly those living next to airports.

  Q535  Chairman: Thank you. That is an interesting point. Mr Hamblin, you actually said in your evidence that you thought the CAA remit ought to be changed to take account of the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy. What kind of changes, extra powers, should they have?

  Mr Hamblin: Indeed we did. We believe that the current duties which the CAA has do not address the environmental issues. To quote the Chairman of the CAA before the committee, the CAA has limited responsibilities in relation to the environment. We would advocate a duty to promote environmentally sustainable development, a duty which would be in keeping with the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy.

  Q536  Chairman: Mr Wojtulewicz, did you want to comment on that?

  Mr Wojtulewicz: Yes, thank you, Chairman. Leicestershire County Council's experience is limited to its experience with the East Midlands Airport and the recent changes in controlled airspace over Leicester, which the CAA approved last year. I would like to echo what has been said. Yes, I think the CAA should have a duty put upon it more specifically to take account of environmental matters. In particular, in considering the planning system, if there is a proposed development at an airport, the planning authority will take into account environmental impact, but, when there is no physical development, it does not require planning permission such as changes to controlled airspace, and then the environmental remit is left to the CAA. We would like to see that having more parity with other matters.

  Q537  Chairman: You have all made this point now that the CAA has a statutory obligation to ensure that public demand for air transport is satisfied at the lowest cost consistent with good safety. Do you think possibly it is unrealistic to expect them to do the sort of environmental policeman act at the same time? Is it not better to have a separate body to deal with environmental regulation for aviation?

  Cllr Cadbury: I started off being agnostic about whether the CAA should do this or whether this should be taken up by another body. I have just looked at the Federal Aviation Authority website. The FAA in the United States has a major role on environmental issues and also funds significant mitigation packages that benefit residents around airports in the US. The figure is about $1.9 million.

  Q538  Mr Goodwill: Would you consider the role of the CAA to be as sort of judge and jury, with the CAA arbitrating on these additional environmental burdens placed upon a particular community, or would we be embarking on yet more public inquiries and a planning-type process administered by the CAA?

  Mr Wojtulewicz: That is an option that I have thought about and one which is a possibility, but if you have a separate body dealing with environmental issues, then who will be the final arbiter? I think that is the key issue. If that remains with the CAA, it may be difficult for the CAA to wrestle with these issues, but nevertheless they have a specific duty to take them into account and they will remain the arbiter of it. It will be difficult. The issue about a potential public inquiry is something that again is a potential. If matters remain unresolved in some way, then a public inquiry may be one way of doing it, given that many local people, particularly in Leicestershire, feel a little bit disenfranchised from the process.

  Q539  Chairman: Do you disagree with that, Mr Hamblin?

  Mr Hamblin: I do not disagree. I wanted to make a further point, which is that there is a potential conflict between safety, economic regulation and environmental impact. However, having multiple agencies trying to deal with that I do not think is a way forward to resolve those conflicts. Those potential conflicts are still going to exist, but it is much more likely that they can be resolved with a single regulator.


 
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