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Lord Carter: My Lords, I was pleased to add my name to this amendment, and to give the Government a chance to put on the record what the situation is with regard to the European Union. My noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, with a copy to me, describing the situation in the EU, and it would be helpful to have it on the record.
There apparently is an EU proposal for regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons when they travel by air. Article 8 of that regulation requires airlines to provide certain forms of assistance to disabled people without specific charge, one of which is a requirement to carry recognised assistance dogs free of charge in the aircraft cabin, subject to national regulations. What is the meaning of "national regulations"? What is the vehicle for those regulations? Is it this Bill? Looking at it, it is hard to see where that could be done. I hope that it can. Is it the 1982 Act? I assume that the Government will ensure before Third Reading that they have the vehicle that they require to table those regulations.
The amendment proposes the introduction of a scheme by which clearance costs for guide dogs and other assistance dogs entering the UK by air under the pets passport scheme, or pets travel scheme as it is otherwise known in the UK, would be met by airlines. The Government have given the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and my noble friend Lord Carter careful consideration and have concluded that its aims can be achieved without an amendment to the Civil Aviation Bill. Before I explain the reasons in detail, let me say that the Government recognise the excellent work that is carried out by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and other assistance dog organisations in promoting the interests of their members and the welfare of guide and assistance dogs. Those bodies have worked closely and fruitfully with the Government in the past and will, I am sure, continue to do so.
The pet passport scheme permits the entry of dogs, including guide and other assistance dogs, into the UK without the need for quarantine, as the noble Lord said, provided they meet certain rules. It has proved popular since its launch six years ago. It has also been welcomed by guide and other assistance dog owners who canmany dotravel abroad with their dogs. The pet passport scheme is adopted by all EU countries under legislation that came into force in July 2003 and applied in July 2004. That legislation sets down the certification requirements for all dogs and cats moving between EU countries and into the EU from other countries. The UK checks all animals coming in, whether they come from the EU or
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elsewhere, because, along with a number of other member states, it has a special derogation, which will be reviewed by the European Commission in 2007. The derogation requires animals to be blood tested and to be treated for ticks and tapeworms before entry. The UK clearance checks are there to ensure that there is compliance with those extra rules. I should add that, under European law, all member states are required to check all animals coming in from outside the EU at the point of entry.
When animals enter the UK by air, they will, in most cases, travel as cargo in the hold of the aircraft. However, under the pet passport scheme airlines may allow assistance dogs to travel in the cabin with their owner. Indeed, under the proposed EC regulation on air passenger rights for disabled people and people with reduced mobility, it will be a requirement for assistance dogs to be permitted to travel in the cabin. Where the dog is in the cabin, the owner and their dog are met on arrival by staff who check that the dog meets the requirements of the pet passport scheme. That ensures that throughout the journey and on landing the owner is not separated from their assistance dog.
The airline may charge the owner for carrying out the pet passport checks. Whether it does so is currently a matter for the airline itselfas the noble Lord said, some do, some do notand any company that it sub-contracts to carry out the checks on its behalf rather than government. I am sure that the noble Lord is aware of that. However, in the case of assistance dogs, some airlines waive the charges altogether.
Indeed, guidelines drawn up by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in conjunction with a number of UK airlines, recommend that assistance dog owners should not be charged directly for those clearance costs.
I recognise that the aim of the amendment was to make it a legal requirement for those costs to be met by airlines. It appears to me, however, that provisions in the proposed EC regulation that I mentioned should make an amendment to the Civil Aviation Bill unnecessary. Article 8 of that regulation would require airlines to provide certain forms of assistance to disabled people without charge, one of which is to carry recognised assistance dogs free of charge in the aircraft cabin, subject to national regulations, and I will come to the question that my noble friend gave me notice of in a moment. That obligation should be capable of being construed so as to include all measures necessary to allow for the carriage of assistance dogs needed by disabled passengers, including clearance checks under the pets passport scheme. The Government gave priority to progressing that proposal during our recent presidency of the European Union. It has wide support from disability groups, and it provides a suitable framework for the carriage of assistance dogs into the UK. It has already been agreed by the European Parliament, and we expect it to be adopted without further debate at a forthcoming Council meeting.
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I have in front of me a number of reasons why the amendment is technically flawed which, given the hour, we will not go into tonight. In view of the European legislation that I have just discussed, which addresses discrimination against disabled people, I hope that my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, will agree that an amendment to the Civil Aviation Bill is not necessary and will withdraw the amendment.
I shall briefly address the question from my noble friend Lord Carter, who asked about national regulations. Article 8 of the proposed EU regulations that I have just been talking about requires airlines to provide certain forms of assistance to disabled people, which includes a requirement to carry recognised assistance dogs free of charge, subject to member states' national regulations. In the United Kingdom, those regulations are the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974, as amended, covering animals being imported into rabies quarantine, and the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals (England) 2004, Schedule 1 of which sets out conditions of approval for air carriers to participate in the UK's pets travel scheme. That includes checking requirements and assurances that the animals are transported in an appropriate part of the aircraft and in appropriate conditions. It is an EU regulation that subsumes UK regulations. I ask noble Lords to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful reply. I will analyse it, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Carter, will, before Third Reading. We all have the same desire, which is to make this workable for people with disabilities. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"REDUCTION OF AIRSIDE EMISSIONS
(1) With effect from 1st January 2009 aerodromes with more than 50,000 movements a year by subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of 34,000kg or more, or with more than 19 passenger seats, are required to make available Fixed Electrical Ground Power and Preconditioned Air Units at all Aircraft Stands.
(2) Aircraft must use Fixed Electrical Ground Power and Preconditioned Air Units at all times when stationary at aircraft stands.
(3) With effect from 1st January 2009 aerodromes with more than 50,000 movements a year by subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of 34,000kg or more, or with more than 19 passenger seats, are required to have replaced or converted 50 per cent of their airside vehicle fleet to run on low carbon fuels."
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I want to move this amendment, even in view of the late hour. It is a new amendment, which emerged from a turkey lunch at Christmas with my nephew, who works for a Scandinavian airline. He thought that his ideas should be known, and he had been trying to talk to the
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officials, not knowing that I was doing this job. That is how the amendment arose. I will go into a little bit of detail; I am only trying to be helpful.
Only recently, the Prime Minister himself acknowledged that climate change was the biggest threat facing our planet. It is therefore particularly important for us to consider that aviation emissions rose by 12 per cent in the past year and now account for 11 per cent of Britain's total greenhouse gas emissionsby far the fastest-growing sector. Moreover, environmentalists argue that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft have increased by 73 per cent since 1990 and are on course to have grown by 150 per cent by 2012.
In Grand Committee, the Minister made it clear that the Government viewed aviation as an international industry and were prepared to tackle the serious issue of aviation's impact on climate change only with reference to the aviation industry's incorporation into the EU emissions trading scheme. Much was made of the Minister's responses, because we had the extra leverage that the UK Government had at that stage in their EU presidency. Has there been any further progress since our presidency on some of those European issues?
It is important not to forget that the problem of aviation-related air pollution has local as well as global consequences. My noble friend Lady Hanham touched on that when we debated health issues earlier.
The amendment is designed to address the problem by presenting practical measures that build on current good practice and offer a tangible way to reduce airside emissions. Subsection (1) requires that, by 1 January 2009, the largest airports with over 50,000 movements a year make available fixed electrical ground power (FEGP) and pre-conditioned air at all their aircraft stands. Many airport operators already provide fixed electrical ground power; however, the additional requirement to provide pre-conditioned air means that there will be no reason to require the use of the aircraft's auxiliary power unit.
All aircraft have an APUall the technical stuff emerged from Christmas lunchthat provides power for the aircraft's systems and air conditioning while on the ground. APUs run on kerosene and that, as well as being extremely noisy, contributes to the volume of airside emissions. However, if an aircraft can receive its electrical power and conditioned air from an aircraft stand, it will be able to draw its power requirement from the national grid. That in turn means that the fossil fuel-burning APU can be switched off, directly reducing ground-level noise and air pollution.
In Scandinavia, it is already a legal requirement that airports supply aircraft with electrical ground power. In fact, at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, APUs are allowed to be used for a maximum of only 10 minutes while the aircraft is on the ground, and ground staff are not allowed to approach the aircraft until the FEGP has been connected and the APU switched off. Furthermore, the airport includes the cost of FEGP usage in its landing charges, providing a valuable
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financial incentive. In Denmark, that practice has been taken a stage further: The FEGP units are connected to a central computer system and, if they are not used within three minutes of an aircraft's "on chocks" arrival time, a fine is automatically generated.
Subsection (2) is designed to ensure that, once FEGP and preconditioned air have been provided at aircraft stands, aircraft are compelled to use them. In effect, that gives statutory force to the CAA's existing recommendations, which state:
In addition to reducing airside emissions, the use of FEGP is cost-effective for both the airport and the airline operators. A report from the United States by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) indicated that airport operators there had found the payback period to be relatively shortless than two years. From the airlines' perspective, I think that we can take the fact that Ryanair, that most cost-conscious of airlines, insists on using FEGP wherever possible as evidence of it being the most economical option.
Subsection (3) refers to airside vehicles, another important source of air pollutants. It requires that, by 1 January 2009, larger airports with annual movements of over 50,000 passengers will have replaced or converted 50 per cent of their airside vehicle fleet to run on low carbon fuels.
This initiative has already been championed at Heathrow by BAA and much of Heathrow's own vehicle fleet now runs on alternative, low-carbon fuels. The use of cleaner fuels can dramatically improve the air quality for those who live or work in or close to airports.
It is high time that they did. This amendment provides for that opportunity. There are examples both of airports and of airline operators that are commendably already pursuing these initiatives. As with government thinking on penalty schemes, which we debated previously, we must use this opportunity to give those already leading the way the cover of legislation and those left behind a statutory obligation to adopt these best practices. The new clause provides two sensible measures with realistic timescales that offer a simple way of tackling the problem of aviation-related air pollution at a level that can make a tangible difference to people's lives. I beg to move.
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