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Olympics (Airspace Restrictions)

Volume 545: debated on Tuesday 15 May 2012

On 7 March 2011 the Government announced our initial plans to introduce temporary airspace restrictions during the London Olympic and Paralympic games to help protect key games locations from potential airborne risks. We also committed to undertake further work to evaluate the potential impact of these measures before final decisions were made. This work, undertaken in conjunction with the aviation sector and the Government’s security experts, led to a revised set of planned airspace restrictions which were announced on 19 July 2011.

Since July 2011, the Government, with the assistance of the Civil Aviation Authority, have been preparing the necessary statutory instruments to give effect to the planned airspace restrictions. These detailed regulations have now been signed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport and will enter into force on 1 June 2012. NATS, the UK’s en-route air traffic service provider and publisher of the UK’s aeronautical information, will be publishing the details of these regulations on 17 May 2012 in its next aeronautical information circular. In addition, full details of the planned airspace restrictions, including maps, can be found on the airspace safety initiative website at

In total there are 15 sets of regulations, three covering the London area (a restricted zone for the main Olympics and prohibited zones for the Olympics and for the Paralympics), five covering the Olympic football tournament stadia at Old Trafford, Coventry, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Cardiff, and the remainder protecting the sailing venue at Weymouth, rowing at Egham and Eton Dorney, the road cycling events at Leatherhead and Brands Hatch, the canoeing events at the Lee Valley white water centre and the mountain bike racing at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.

Following extensive engagement with the aviation community, the regulations have been designed to minimise, where possible, their impact on aviation business, while ensuring the safety and security of the games. They also provide specific exemptions for aircraft such as those operated by the police or emergency medical services to enter the protected airspace, and for the Olympic Broadcasting Service to operate over the venues. We do not expect that any airports will need to close as a result of the planned measures, and there should be little or no impact on scheduled air services.

The Government’s paramount objective is the delivery of a safe and secure 2012 games for all, and the airspace restrictions will help to provide this whilst minimising the impact on the aviation community, so far as possible. However, the Government reserve the right to implement additional airspace security measures should the need arise.