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Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. In tabling the amendment I was mindful of the fact that more and more aircraft are flying over national parks. The deregulation of the air market and cheaper flights have led to an increasing number of flights. I find it difficult to be convinced that the maximum effort is being made to avoid the national parks.
The noble Baroness talked about safety being paramount. Of course, we understand that safety is a very big issue. However, I cannot believe that it is impossible to route aircraft away from places such as the Brecon Beacons, which are constantly being overflown, if real effort was put into that. I would like to press the amendment and take the opinion of the House simply to underline the fact that something ought to be done about these places if they are not to become like everywhere elsenoisy. For that reason, I wish to take the opinion of the House.
Lord Haworth: My Lords, before the noble Lord does so, will he help me on one small point? I think I am right in saying that there are well developed plans to have a national park covering the South Downs. The South Downs are closely adjacent to Gatwick airport. A national park that covered the South Downsof which I am strongly in favour as it would afford protection to that very valuable areawould comprise a very long rectangle along the southern coast of Britain. It seems to me very likely that the noble Lord's amendment would put Gatwick airport out of business. Will he help me on that?
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I certainly do not know the detail of the flight paths into Gatwick. However, we should avoid flying over the national parks if we can. I am not saying that they are no-go areas. I realise that there are demands for military flying and all sorts of things. However, I think that a real effort should be made in that regard. If the South Downs are designated a national park, and that means that flights to Gatwick have to vary very slightly their approach to or take-off from Gatwick, then so be it if we want a national park which people can enjoy. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
"( ) Local authorities in whose areas the aerodrome (or any part of it) is situated are given the authority to
(a) monitor flight and ground level airport-related noise;
(b) audit and monitor the effectiveness of noise control procedures at airports.
( ) Aerodromes are required to demonstrate
(a) how issues highlighted by local authorities through their monitoring function have been taken into consideration; and
(b) any subsequent mitigating measures adopted;
and make such responses accessible to the public."
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I apologise to the House for the confusion that I have inadvertently caused. I have spoken to the amendment and I shall not weary the House by going through it all again. Perhaps the Minister can find his notes on the amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Smith of Leigh: My Lords, first, I declare interests as director of Manchester Airport Group and leader of Wigan Council. I share the noble Baroness's views that as representatives of local communities, local authorities should play a key role in the monitoring of noise around airports; but I question the necessity for this amendment, because local authorities have existing powers to play a full part in those areas if they wish to do soparticularly regarding the role of environmental health officers. One of their roles is to monitor noise at all points
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within a local authority area, where they believe it contributes to a nuisance to local people. Clearly that is the case in relation to this issue.
Local authorities, if they are smart, can also use the planning laws, particularly if there are plans to extend an airportthey can use Section 106 of those laws to reach agreements with airports to ensure that they can cement the relationship and have access to the airport monitoring information to make sure that they are being effective.
The amendment also does not seem fully to take into account that airports are part of their local communities and, therefore, wish to co-operate with local authorities to make sure that airport noise monitoring is effective. That is the whole purpose of the earlier clause and I do not believe that the power provided in the amendment is necessary. Certainly, in relation to airports with which I am involvedManchester, Nottingham and East Midlandslocal authorities play a full part in the monitoring processes and we have an open-door access policy to ensure that local authorities have all the information that the airport has about noise, which they can use in any way that they wish.
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