Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend. The noble Baroness in her opening remarks on the previous amendment was wise to say that she would not move Amendment No. 10. She should have heeded that advice. As a former aviation Minister, I entirely agree that local authorities have all the powers in the world that they could exercise here—and they do. It was a long time ago, but I remember consulting with the local authorities closely and the Department for Transport does that regularly now. Personally speaking, there is no point whatever in the amendment.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly those on the Back Benches who have brought some sanity to the Front Benches when they get confused about which amendment we are discussing. My noble friend Lord Smith is well qualified to have identified the role of local authorities in relation to airports.

As he rightly said, local authorities have a role when an airport applies for planning permission in respect of developments that it wishes to undertake, where it is not of sufficient strategic importance for the Secretary of State to call it in. They have power, in such a case, to make planning permission subject to conditions, as the Secretary of State has done in imposing a cap on the number of movements at Heathrow as a condition for the construction of Terminal 5. It is also possible for airports voluntarily to enter binding agreements with a local authority. Gatwick airport did exactly that with West Sussex County Council, when it undertook in 1979 not to construct a second runway before 2019. That agreement with a local authority was of the greatest strategic significance.

Local authorities also have a statutory right to be included in the consultative arrangements made by airports designated under Section 35 of the 1982 Act, so they will have an opportunity formally to make their views known to the airport management. There is
8 Mar 2006 : Column 792
nothing to stop local authorities from carrying out whatever noise monitoring they might wish to—which was the burden of my noble friend Lord Smith's remarks—to inform their dealings with the airport in the context of their planning powers, consultative committee membership, or any other bilateral discussions.

Along with all other stakeholders, local authorities will also be able to make their views on airports' noise control policies and procedures known through the mandatory public consultation. There is the additional point that I was seeking to respond to when I thought the noble Baroness was speaking to the previous amendment—namely, that local authorities may wish to play their part in a trust that deals with payments for noise and emissions, to the benefit of the local community.

I was at one with the noble Baroness that local authorities have a proper part to play in respect of airports, but they have those opportunities and powers under existing legislation and the amendment is quite unnecessary.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and for the interventions that, once again, told me that the amendment is not necessary. It has permitted a debate on the role of people not associated with an airport in monitoring noise levels and in making their views known. The Minister has referred at length to the planning issues, but the amendment is not about that. It is about the impact that a local authority could have in making sure that the monitoring of noise was carried out and was known to the airport authority. In light of what has been said, I do not intend to pursue this further and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 11:

"( ) any body appearing to the Secretary of State to be representative of operators of aircraft using the aerodrome,"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 11, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 12. The amendments make two minor changes to the consultation requirement that subsection (5) of new Section 38B places on the Secretary of State when he proposes to make an order specifying an area within which a non-designated airport's noise control scheme shall apply.

It has become apparent to us that although subsection (5) lists a number of specific statutory consultees—including the CAA, the operator of the airport, local authorities and organisations representing the interests of local people—the operators of aircraft that use the airport are not included in the list. The first of these amendments remedies that omission. It does so using the formulation,

which is used elsewhere in the Bill, specifically in Clause 3, page 4, line 31.
8 Mar 2006 : Column 793

Amendment No. 12 then changes the reference to organisations representing the interests of local people, so that the same formulation is used consistently—that is, that these bodies are those,

of those interests. The effect of this provision—the requirement for the Secretary of State to consult bodies representing the interests of local people—will remain exactly the same. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 12:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 14:

(1) The Secretary of State shall, no later than one year after this section comes into effect, make regulations under section 20(1) of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (c. 26) (sound-proofing of buildings affected by public works) imposing a duty on responsible authorities to insulate domestic and community buildings, such as schools and nurseries, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, places of worship, libraries and other public use buildings against noise caused, or expected to be caused, by the use of aerodromes for the taking off and landing of aircraft.
(2) Such insulation should provide for internal noise environments equivalent or better than the "good" category of BS 8233 where relevant.
(3) In making provision as to the level of noise giving rise to such a duty in respect of a building or class of buildings, and the area in which a building must be situated if the duty is to arise in respect of it, the regulations must make reference to the noise attenuation of individual rooms in domestic and community buildings such as those outlined in subsection (1) above."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 14, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 27. First, I declare an interest as president of the Aviation Environment Federation.

My amendment is similar to the one that I moved in Committee. I have taken into account many of the comments that my noble friend the Minister made in response at that stage—I will not repeat all the arguments now, your Lordships will be glad to hear. The key issue on which my noble friend focused was that these noise insulation schemes are at present voluntary. He made the point that he did not want everybody to see,

He said:

That is all very fine, but he went on to say that he expected,

8 Mar 2006 : Column 794

My question is: what happens if the operators do not do this, as some will not, if they can get away with it? Turkeys do not often vote for Christmas. I am sure that there are many responsible operators, as we have heard today, but there are one or two irresponsible ones—the same applies to airlines. Sixty-nine decibels is a long way from the World Health Organisation-recommended noise level in bedrooms of 30dBA, especially as this is a log scale, as we heard earlier. I believe that a national scheme is needed to catch the people who are not complying. For those who are complying, there is no problem, as they have already complied.

6.15 pm

Noise affects everyone under the flight path, regardless of which airport the flights happen to be starting at. A lot of concern has been expressed in Greenwich over flights to Heathrow, which is a long way away. I have heard estimates that about 5 million people in this country are badly affected by noise. Therefore, the scheme needs to be national. It needs to be adequate and comprehensive, so that the internal noise insulation levels comply with BS 8233. It also needs to be statutory. That is what my amendment proposes—that, within a year, the Secretary of State shall bring forward regulations to meet a category of BS 8233. I do not think that that is an unreasonable request. We need a system that will help anyone who lives under a flight path, whether in Tiree—although I expect that aircraft fly over the sea there—or in Coventry. It is very sad if you live under the flight path in Coventry, where you get nothing at all, whereas at Birmingham International you can get looked after quite well, as the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, said.

I suggest that now is the time to do this, before we start discussions about planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow or more runways at Stansted and all the other debates. Let us first try to get the existing stock of houses and community buildings insulated, so that people can live a proper life. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page