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Airports: Heathrow

Volume 703: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will re-appraise the cost-effectiveness of transport projects, including expansion of Heathrow airport, following their revision of the projected price of oil in 2020. [HL4670]

In line with the Better Regulation Executive's impact assessment guidance, the department is currently updating the Heathrow impact assessment following the consultation. This will include updating of any underlying assumptions including oil price projections.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are in favour of a sixth terminal and a third runway at Heathrow airport. [HL4800]

The Government support the development of a third runway at Heathrow subject to meeting local environmental conditions on air quality and noise, and improving public transport access. This position was set out in the 2003 Future of Air Transport White Paper.

In February this year, the Government completed the consultation “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” which provided evidence on meeting the conditions for a third runway with associated passenger terminal facilities. Decisions on this are expected later this year.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which individual flights obtained a waiver to land at Heathrow Airport prior to 6 am over the past six months; and, in each instance, what was the reason for the waiver. [HL4944]

During the period January to June 2008, 191 dispensations were granted, 177 related to delays, seven were VIP flights and seven were emergency related.

There have been restrictions on night flights at Heathrow since 1962. The underlying principle of these restrictions is to preserve the balance between the need to protect local communities from excessive aircraft noise at night and the operation of services where they provide economic benefits. These restrictions are reviewed periodically.

The current regime which applies from October 2006 until October 2012 comprises restrictions on the types of aircraft which may be operated throughout the “night period” (11 pm to 7 am).

In addition, further restrictions apply between 11.30 pm and 6 am (the night quota period). In the latter period, first, the noisiest types of aircraft cannot be scheduled to operate. Secondly, the Department for Transport sets two limits—on the number of aircraft movements and on the amount of quota points that may be used. Neither limit may be exceeded. The quota points system allocates a quota count (QC) number to each different type of aircraft for landing and taking-off according to the amount of noise generated. Every time the aircraft operates in the night quota period its number of QC points is deducted from the total for the season. There are two seasons—summer and winter.

The regime provides for a stepped reduction in noise quota over the life of the current regime (i.e. until 2012), encouraging operators to use the quietest aircraft available to them.

There is provision for certain flights to be disregarded from the requirement to be counted against the movements and quota limits in exceptional circumstances. These include cases where there are:

delays to aircraft which are likely to lead to serious congestion at the airport or serious hardship or suffering to passengers; and

delays to aircraft resulting from widespread and prolonged disruption of air traffic.

Normal operational delays do not fall under these rules and provision has to be made for these to be covered within the allocated movement and quota limits.