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Written Answers

Tuesday, 20 December 2005.

Airports

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: There are over 140 licensed aerodromes in the United Kingdom, and the information about their operating policies requested in a number of these questions is not collected or held by the Department for Transport. It is therefore not possible to give comprehensive information about UK airports' policies in response to these questions. However, some illustrative examples of practices at larger UK airports are given at the end of this answer.

Ambient air quality is monitored in the vicinity of all larger airports in the UK. Continuous monitoring of a number of different pollutants, which are controlled though the UK air quality objectives, is carried out near airports either through the Defra monitoring network, by local authorities or by the airports themselves. The prime pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) though a number of other pollutants are monitored at different locations. Data acquired are used both for compliance monitoring against limit values and in support of modelling of pollutant concentrations. Monitors are sited at various locations that relate either to the main sources or to residential areas.

Aircraft emissions are not identified separately from other sources in monitoring work though some sites will be exposed to higher levels of aircraft emissions whilst at others it will be roads that predominate. For modelling of airport area emissions, the aircraft source emissions, like other sources, will be calculated using inventory techniques related to technical and
 
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operational performance. Inevitably, this will be an approximation given the variation in numerous factors that affect the actual level of emissions for a particular movement.

Moreover, it is not possible to ascribe a particular operational level of emissions to an individual aircraft. The Civil Aviation Bill does not, therefore, make provision for the establishment of emissions control schemes at airports.

There are currently no penalty schemes in operation at UK airports for emissions, and no current statutory powers to airport operators to impose such penalties.

Clause 1 of the Civil Aviation Bill would give airport operators clear powers to fix their charges by reference to aircraft emissions. BAA currently makes a charge, or offers a rebate, dependent upon the ascertained NOx emission of aircraft types using Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Given that some airport operators would like explicit clear powers to make such charges, it is not unexpected that there should be so few charging on this basis.

Clauses 3 and 4 of the Civil Aviation Bill would give airport operators the power to levy financial penalties on the operators of aircraft which breach noise control requirements set by the Secretary of State (in the case of airports designated for the purposes of Section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982) or the airport operator itself (for other airports). There is no current statutory basis for charging such penalties.

At present a number of airports impose penalties for breach of their noise limits for departing aircraft, using their terms and conditions of use; some examples of these are given at the end of this Answer, along with details of the limits in question and the penalties imposed. The Government are aware of one airport—Stansted—that levies penalties for flagrant or persistent deviation from flight path as part of its terms and conditions of use.

Noise and track-keeping systems are required to assess breaches of departure noise limits and deviation from noise preferential routes. These systems are potentially costly to install and run and it may therefore not be appropriate for smaller airports to impose noise controls that require this apparatus.

There are a variety of ways in which airport operators may manage the noise impact of their operations, which should be selected and used in response to local circumstances. These may include curfews, restrictions on the number or type of aircraft permitted to fly at night, or overall limits on the number of aircraft movements at an airport; the Government also expect operators of larger airports voluntarily to offer noise insulation for residential and community buildings subject to certain levels of noise. The operation of noise penalty schemes needs to be seen in the context of these other measures.

As noted above, the Government do not collect or hold information about the funds raised by airports that impose penalties for breach of their departure noise limits, or the purposes to which those funds are put. However, examples of such information are given at the end of this Answer.
 
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Nor does the Government collect information about how all penalty schemes are administered. However, it can be seen from the examples provided that a community trust fund is frequently established to administer grants, with local authorities and representatives of the airport's consultative committee generally included as trustees. It is also common practice for the consultative committee to be informed about the operation of the scheme. Those funds which are registered charities will receive independent regulation from the Charity Commission.

The Secretary of State has set departure noise limits at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. These are 94dBA in daytime (0700-2300); 89dBA between 2300-2330 and 0600-0700; and 87dBA in the night quota period, 2330-0600. BAA, the operator of these three airports, charges aircraft operators £500 for an exceedance of the relevant noise limit, or £1,000 if the aircraft breaches the limit by 3dBA or more.

The Secretary of State has also set noise preferential routes for aircraft departing from these airports. Each airport has a noise and track-keeping (NTK) system in place to monitor breaches of the departure noise limits and deviations from the noise preferential routes. As noted above, Stansted Airport imposes a surcharge of £500 for each flagrant failure to adhere to a noise preferential route.

At Heathrow Airport, the BAA Heathrow noise fines fund has used the income generated from fines for breaching the departure noise limits to provide noise insulation for local schools and community halls; the fund is being reviewed, given that the needs of schools and other noise-sensitive buildings should be met by the airport's new community buildings noise insulation scheme.

At Gatwick Airport, the Gatwick Airport Community Trust is a registered charity set up in 2001. The trust receives the money raised from fining for breaches of the departure noise limits, in addition to an annual donation of £100,000 per year (index-linked) until 2008 from BAA Gatwick. It grants money to projects that benefit the area around the airport, including environmental or conservation schemes and projects that benefit community life or improve community facilities. In 2004 the trust made grants for a wide range of purposes, including tree planting, play facilities in a rural community and music in residential homes.

At Stansted Airport, until this year the consultative committee has advised the airport on the distribution of funds raised from noise and track-keeping infringements. The Stansted Airport Community Trust Fund, a registered charity, has now been set up to deal with this. The trust is also being funded through a donation of £100,000 per year from the Airport until 2012. The trust is managed by independent trustees representing local authorities in the area of the airport, and makes grants to projects that protect and enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of the community.

Manchester Airport sets departure noise limits of 92dBA/105PNdB in the day and 85dBA/98 PNdB at
 
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night (2300-0659). The minimum penalty for exceeding the limit is £500, and a further £150 is applied for each PNdB in excess of the noise limit.

Manchester Airport has a NTK system to monitor aircraft noise, and has set up preferred noise routes to minimise the impact of noise from departing aircraft. It has lobbied for many years for the power to charge penalties for failure to observe these preferred noise route corridors. Clause 4 of the Bill will give operators of non-designated airports this power.

The Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund is a registered charity set up by the airport. It has a board of trustees including representatives of the local authorities whose areas are eligible for grants from the fund (the "area of benefit"). It considers applications from not-for-profit groups that aim to improve the environment or social welfare within that area, and specifies that projects should be open to all and demonstrate wide, lasting benefit to all members of the community.

Since the fund was set up in 1997 it has donated £1.7 million to over 500 projects. The airport donates £150,000 per year to the fund in addition to donating the money it levies for breaches of the departure noise limits.

Birmingham International Airport sets departure noise limits of 92dBA in the day and 87dBA at night (2330-0600). The penalty for breaches of the daytime limit is £500 plus £150 for each full decibel over 92dBA; the penalty for night-time breaches is a surcharge of the full runway charge payable for that aircraft.

The airport has set up noise preferential routes for departing aircraft and has an NTK system in place.

Birmingham International Airport has set up a community trust fund. A registered charity, it receives £55,000 from the airport each year in addition to the penalties levied for breaches of its departure noise limits. The fund invests in projects that directly benefit areas affected by the airport, and are aimed at improving quality of life through heritage conservation, environment improvement and education, encouraging and protecting wildlife or social and leisure activities.

It is operated by nine trustees who are nominees of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Birmingham City Council, the airport consultative committee and the airport company. Since the trust was launched in January 1998 around 250 grants totalling over £530,000 have been awarded to local community projects.

Nottingham East Midlands Airport sets departure noise limits at night and fines operators of aircraft that breach those limits. It also has an NTK system in place and has noise preferential routes for departing aircraft.

The Nottingham East Midlands Airport Community Fund was set up in April 2002 and has donated over £130,000 to community initiatives since then. This includes £79,550 raised through fining airlines for breaches of the night-time noise limits. The fund is administered by a committee including
 
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members of the airport's consultative committee and representatives of the airport.

London Luton Airport sets departure noise limits of 94dBA in the day and 87dBA at night (2330-0600 Monday to Saturday, 2330-0700 Sunday). The penalties are a surcharge based on the combined landing and air navigation charges for the aircraft concerned. For a daytime breach this is 400 per cent of that combined charge; for night-time breaches the operator is charged a 300 per cent surcharge for a breach at 88-91dBA, a 500 per cent surcharge for a breach at 92-95dBA, and a 600 per cent surcharge for a breach of 95dBA and above.


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