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Night Flights: Regional Airports

Volume 624: debated on Thursday 30 March 2017

5. What steps his Department is taking to (a) monitor and (b) regulate night flights at regional airports. (909575)

The Government set noise night flight restrictions only at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. We believe that noise is usually best managed locally, so we do not monitor the number of night flights outside those three airports. At Scottish airports, the powers to set night flight restrictions and other noise controls are of course devolved, and therefore lie with Scottish Ministers.

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. I acknowledge that the night flight proposals extend only to the three London airports, but given the anticipated growth in night flights generally, does that not seem rather short-sighted? We want such growth in airports because of the gross value added that that brings, but we have to recognise the rights of constituents everywhere, including those in Scotland.

This is clearly a live issue for people living around airports. The airspace modernisation programme will provide additional tools to improve things. I assume the hon. Lady is not asking me to take back powers from the Scottish Government to regulate night flights at Scotland’s airports; were she doing so, she would have to talk to her colleagues in Edinburgh.

We have no plans to nationalise regional airports. In some cases, local authorities—or, indeed, local authorities in partnership with the private sector—control regional airports, and that is a matter for those local authorities and the current and past owners of those airports. We have no plans to nationalise airports.

It is important to ensure that international flights to regional airports are facilitated, but does the Minister acknowledge that it is equally important not to cause unbearable disruption to neighbourhoods? Does he believe that such a balance is being achieved under the current monitoring process?

The big difference that will come from the airspace modernisation programme is that by moving from systems that are 50 years out of date to ones that use the most modern technology, it will be possible to manage approaches to and departure paths from airports much more exactly, to provide more variation for local communities and to deliver a much smarter way of managing our aviation as a whole. That is why we are consulting on what will be a big change for this country.