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Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, there has been quite a lot of debate about local authorities in the past few moments and I shall comment on that, but initially I want to support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. Obviously, in relation to the airport that I know best—Stansted—there is some unease about the amount of work that will be done in the neighbourhood with the continued expansion there, and that fits in very much with the amendment. So I support the amendment.

However, in my experience, there is no way that local authorities can afford to do the work that has been suggested. The money for that has to come from the expansion of the airports or other things. Certainly, the authority that I lead is one of the largest in the country with a budget of £1.5 billion, but we would have no capacity to put money into that work. The money has to come from other areas.
 
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Lord Soley: My Lords, it cannot conceivably be said that I was suggesting that that should be the case. The argument is that local authorities and airports need to work more closely together than they are doing at the moment and get a shared view of the vision for the area in terms of the strategies for the airport. Frankly, the noble Lord's area is one where they should be doing more—and the noble Lord is in a position to influence that—but they do not have to pay for it in the simple sense.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, given all the other things that I do, I spend quite a lot of time talking to BAA about the expansion at Stansted. In my experience, local authorities are pretty much involved. However, I know only what is happening at Stansted, and certainly I and my colleagues are very much involved in what is happening there. I think that there is merit in the amendment and I shall be interested to hear the Minister's response on it.

6.30 pm

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I also believe there is merit in what the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, has said. I shall be interested to hear what the Minister has to say.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to all who have participated in this short debate. Of course, there is no doubt at all that insulation is a matter of great concern to all who live near our major airports, including Heathrow. It is only fair to point out that the noise environment around many of our airports has improved over time as new and quieter aircraft technologies have been introduced. Many people who have come to live in the vicinity of airports in recent years have done so with the knowledge of the existing noise climate. Many of those properties will have benefited from previous insulation when noise levels were higher.

I want to reassure my noble friend Lord Berkeley. In introducing the amendment, he said that he needed to know the endpoint and who has the power to ensure that airports meet their requirements. The answer is straightforward: the Secretary of State has the power to require individual airports to provide acoustic insulation using his powers under Section 79 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. In the past, he has designated both Heathrow and Gatwick airports for that purpose. So we already have precedents for effective action. That is why we have properties with good insulation in some areas close to airports.

Currently, noise insulation schemes are provided on a voluntary basis by airports, sometimes supported by local planning agreements, which is where the local authorities come in. As the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, indicated, many local authorities take a very close interest in their airports, as my noble friend Lord Smith indicated on the previous amendment.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Soley for broadening the debate. He takes advantage of the gentler procedures in this House to put forward a range of propositions. I am quite sure, on a similar amendment in
 
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the other place, he would have had difficulty in broadening the debate to that extent. He is right that we need to consider having greener airports and concern for the environment, which will involve partnerships with local authorities. There is also a clear requirement on airports to address these issues more effectively than they have in the past. That is the only way in which they can ever expect to achieve broad public support for any developments that they seek.

I am confident that airports will meet the Government's criteria without requiring compulsion. We have clear criteria on insulation that need to be met, and airports know what is expected of them. I can reassure my noble friend Lord Berkeley that should they fail in that respect, the Secretary of State can use, and indeed will use, statutory powers to ensure that appropriate insulation schemes are introduced.

A comprehensive set of policies is in place to deal with noise insulation for a wide range of buildings. Again, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Soley for mentioning the issue with regard to schools. Some buildings require extra attention as regards insulation so that their purposes can be fulfilled in circumstances where there is a great deal of noise above and around them. We have a power of enforcement if voluntary measures do not prove sufficient. That is why I do not believe that the proposed amendments are necessary. Although my noble friend has introduced an important aspect, I hope that he will withdraw the amendment on the basis of the assurances that I have given.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will confirm that those powers apply to any airport in the UK and, if not, to which ones do they not apply?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, my noble friend will recognise that in regard to insulation we are concerned about the major airports. We are not concerned about Tiree, if I can mention it once again. The designated airports—Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted—have included proposals for noise insulation schemes and we have a provisional proposal that the insulation schemes criteria should apply to non-domestic buildings where people sleep on most nights, for example, hospices, nursing homes and hospitals. We are working intensively on the issue. Perhaps the noble Lord will recognise that the airports that present this problem in the most obvious form are those on which the obligations rest. If necessary, we shall not fail to act.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his answers. They deserve detailed reading as he has given some very interesting information. I am not sure why the Government are so much against a statutory scheme, which is the crux of the debate. There is one at Chicago O'Hare airport which works well. I live in a house in Battersea, west London, which received statutory noise insulation against Channel Tunnel rail freight trains. Noble Lords might think there is an irony there. I have the installation, but if I had wanted it for noise from the air, I probably would not have received it. There is a precedent for a
 
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statutory scheme such as this, and it is something on which to reflect before Third Reading. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 [Functions with respect to health]:

The Countess of Mar moved Amendment No. 15:

The noble Countess said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 15 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 and, to save time, to Amendment No. 16 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham.

I have added "airport and aerodrome premises" to,

because health effects in an airport environment can affect anyone and not necessarily just once people have boarded an aeroplane. We need to look comprehensively at the health of all involved in and around airports. This is the simplest way of doing it. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, the noble Countess has very kindly introduced Amendment No. 16. We wish to extend the concern about health to people living in the vicinity of airports. We have discussed noise a lot of this evening and we have discussed emissions a little. We have not discussed stress much. I do not intend to do so, but I want to mention it. Stress arising from noise and lack of sleep is a concern in relation to aircraft. Furrthermore, one cannot take away from this the possibility of respiratory diseases caused by fumes from aviation fuel. It is appropriate that, as we now have a statutory requirement to consider the health of passengers on aircraft, we should consider that on a much wider front.


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