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Concorde

Volume 931: debated on Monday 9 May 1977

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the Noise Advisory Council's report concerning Concorde engine noise during the first eight months of scheduled service between London and Bahrain and Washington.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he is taking to implement the recommendation of his Noise Advisory Council on Concorde noise levels.

The report is being studied and I shall respond formally to the Council's recommendations as soon as possible.

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that the report indicates that at both 5 km. from the start of the takeoff roll and 30 km. from the start it was demonstrated that Concorde was noisier than the Boeing 707? Does he intend to have discussions with the manufacturers about this report, also taking into account the findings of the report which was recently submitted by the Civil Aviation Authority? Will he seek an assurance from the manufacturers that they will do something to make the aircraft less noisy?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has tried to keep the House well informed about the situation. Two reports have been published recently, one by the Civil Aviation Authority and one by the Noise Advisory Council. The first of those reports is based on 12 months of operation of Concorde, and the hon. Gentleman has selected only one facet of that report. The overall conclusion reached by the CAA technical report was that on arrival Concorde is on a par with the Boeing 707 and that on departure it is within the range of noise levels recorded at permanent monitoring sites by subsonic aircraft using the same runways. Those are two pertinent points that should be borne in mind.

It is clear that the first two Questions on the Order Paper are of wider interest. I hope that hon. Members whom I call will direct short questions and that we shall have short answers.

Is my hon. Friend aware that our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is Chairman of the Noise Advisory Council and in that capacity is party to the report which says that Concorde is significantly noisier than any subsonic aircraft? In responding to that report, will my hon. Friend recognise that he is responding to our right hon. Friend who is a party to the view which I hold—namely, that Concorde is a very noisy aircraft indeed and should not be excluded from the limitations placed upon subsonic aircraft which have resulted in my hon. Friend giving answers to the House that have been misunderstood?

I am not answering my right hon. Friend; I am answering my hon. Friend who has a peculiar view about Concorde. My right hon. Friend was not responsible for the report or the views contained in it and has expressly said so. I regret to say that once again my hon. Friend is being carefully selective.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that in eight of the 12 months the Boeing 707 was found to be the noisiest airplane at the statutory monitoring point at Heathrow and that the average weekly traffic movements over the past 12 months show seven Concordes and 463 Boeing 707s? Can he tell us when the Noise Advisory Council and other people will turn their attention to the real target if we are serious about cutting down aircraft noise?

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's first two questions is "Yes". On the third, I do not know.

What progress is the hon. Gentleman making in dealing with the problem of secondary or reflected noise from Concordes over the English Channel which has affected a number of constituencies all the way from the South-West to my own?

I have tried to keep hon. Members who are particularly interested in this matter closely informed about the steps that the Government have taken and I have written to them a number of times. We are carrying out intensive investigations and are discussing with the French possible changes to the flight paths.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Noise Advisory Council's report was based on a CAA report which was published earlier than the one he has mentioned and that it covered only about 1½ per cent. of the Boeing 707 flights out of Heathrow, although they have proved to be generally the noisiest planes?

Does one not have to be careful in talking about the Boeing 707, because the 320-C series of that aircraft is noisier than Concorde?

Has the Minister read reports that British opponents of Concorde have addressed public meetings in New York and alarmed people by claiming that there has been a huge fall in property values around London Airport because of the operations of Concorde? Will he take this opportunity to deny that outrageous allegation?

I am tempted to say only "Yes", but I should add that it is reprehensible that there has been an orchestrated campaign to damage this aircraft and the employment of many thousands of people who are dependent upon its successful operation. The situation is being considered by the district court in Manhattan and we ought to await the conclusions of the learned judge in the case.