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Aviation: Noise

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which authorities are responsible for (a) measuring and (b) enforcing limits on aircraft noise. (185036)

The Department has overall responsibility for aircraft noise policy. The ‘Future of Air Transport’ White Paper set out our key aim to limit and where possible reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise.

Prior to entry into service, the noise levels generated by any aircraft design are measured by the applicant/manufacturer and then approved by a certificating authority. With regard to the UK, the approving authority is the European Aviation Safety Organisation (EASA), except for light propeller aircraft and microlights where the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) retains responsibility. Certification noise limits are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the most recent ‘Chapter 4’ noise limits for large aircraft were introduced on the 1 January 2006.

The Department is responsible for specific noise mitigation measures at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. At other airports, noise restrictions may be imposed voluntarily by the airport operator or by local planning conditions/agreements. However the Civil Aviation Act 2006 introduced explicit statutory powers for non-designated airports to make noise control schemes and to impose penalties for non-compliance.

In terms of measuring noise, aircraft noise contours for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted using the Leq metric are produced annually for the Department by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Under the European Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC, all major airports have been required to produce noise maps for 2006, based on the Lden metric. These maps were published on the website of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 18 December 2007. Responsibility for implementation of the directive in England falls to DEFRA.

As far as aircraft noise is concerned away from the vicinity of airports, I refer the right hon. Member to my answer to his question of 18 February 2008, Official Report, columns 140-41W. This sets out the process for deciding on any airspace changes.