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Aircraft Noise (Compensation)

Volume 87: debated on Tuesday 26 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the progress of the departmental review on compensation for those living near operational Royal Air Force stations, and subject to significant disturbance from aircraft noise.

The review has now been concluded and a number of improvements were announced in the reply that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) on 14 November, at columns 260–61.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my constituents living near RAF Cottesmore will warmly welcome the tone of the Department's response to their representations? Will he ensure that the number of people to get insulation this time will be rather more than the 10 who were offered it in the previous review?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments about the announcement. I recognise that he has been extremely persistent on behalf of his constituents in representing their concerns. We estimate that some 7,000 extra private dwellings around some 50 airfields will benefit from the new availability of noise insulation. As my hon. Friend will understand, I obviously cannot say how many more will benefit in the Cottesmore area, but I hope for his sake, and particularly for mine, that it will be rather more than previously.

Can the Minister give a much better reply to those who complain about noise from low-flying aircraft and who will not get compensation? Is he aware that many of the answers that he gives are far from satisfactory? Could training involving low-flying aircraft take place on one day a week so that residents can be notified in advance and prepare themselves for the nuisance?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand the problem. It would not be possible for the RAF to be able to maintain the standards of proficiency and expertise required on the basis of training on one day a week.

The announcement that the noise compensation scheme is to be introduced has been warmly welcomed by many people living near airfields. Can my right hon. Friend say when it will be known which houses and which parts of the villages are eligible for compensation?

We shall have to carry out a set of new noise contour surveys around the airfields to be able to give that information. As my hon. Friend is aware, we are reducing the qualifying grant level from 75 to 70 decibels. We shall carry out the noise contour survey as rapidly as we can, but it may take some months for certain airfields, and even one or two years, or longer, to cover all 50 airfields. We shall press on as rapidly as possible.