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13/07/01 News
Noise debate in the House of Commons
The subject of noise generated at civil aerodromes was debated recently in the House of Commons when Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, raised the issue in relation to the situation at White Waltham.

Her specific question was "...whether the Government intend to follow their proposal last year to introduce legislation to allow local councils to control flights of light aircraft at such airfields."

In posing this question a number of themes were touched upon, including:-

Many residents were aware of the problem when they moved to the area, but that problems occur when noise levels increase;
The difficulties in fitting silencers to aircraft has "...been used by many fliers as a smokescreen for not doing something about the problem";
The issue is not that the airfield should be closed, but that "Residents need a balance to be struck between their needs and the needs of the airfield and its users";
Nobody has the power to enforce any controls other than through the planning system;
White Waltham is not designated under section 5 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, therefore current consultative arrangements are only voluntary, not statutory.

In closing, it was stated that the constituents of Maidenhead "...feel strongly that powers should be available to enforce controls on noise from light aircraft using airfields such as White Waltham."

The Minister for Transport Mr John Spellar responded by reiterating the policy of successive Governments "...that aircraft noise is a local issue that is best resolved locally". The legitimate right of general aviation pilots to fly was recognised, but "...that right should always be balanced with the interests of the communities that are disturbed by aerodrome activities."

His statement outlined the Government's position on the issues raised earlier, including:-

The importance of general aviation as a legitimate activity;
Aerodrome noise abatement procedures and the need for considerate flying;
The need for aerodromes to "...consult local amenity groups, local authorities and others about decisions that are likely to affect the noise climate";
When it comes to aerodrome alterations and expansion, the role of the local planning authority which "...may grant permission, subject to the relevant conditions, which might include noise-related requirements...";
The safety concerns of the CAA in the fitting of silencers.

In conclusion it was stated that "The long-standing policy of maintaining a balance between the rights of general aviation pilots to fly and the interests of the communities that are disturbed by aircraft noise has generally proved successful. Nevertheless, the Government accept that aircraft noise can be disturbing and that sometimes more should be done."

The Minister for Transport then outlined the proposals and expectations presented in the Government consultation paper "The control of noise from civil aircraft" as:-

Providing aerodromes with clearer powers to regulate flying behaviour;
The preference for local solutions;
New powers for the Secretary of State to require an aerodrome to agree a noise amelioration scheme where no local solution can be found;
The ability of local authorities to enforce such a scheme;
Independent arbitration to resolve any disputes that may arise.
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sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)Full Debate
sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)DETR Consultation
1pix.gif (807 bytes)Paper on noise

sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)More about noise
sm_bull.jpg (515 bytes)White Waltham

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