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Department for Transport: Guidelines for Airport Consultative Committees

17th January, 2005

These guidelines are intended to assist those involved in establishing, running and participating in airport consultative committees. They supersede the guidance issued by the then Department of Transport in 1987-88.Aerodromes to which section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 applies have a responsibility to provide facilities for consultation. However, this guidance will also be applicable to any aerodrome with a consultation process and others with an interest in consultative procedures. We recognise the differences in circumstance between individual aerodromes and that arrangements and procedures for one committee may not be appropriate for another. It is important that the aerodrome and the committee retain the flexibility to adapt to local circumstances.

The purposes of consultation

The purposes of consultation are:

  • to enable aerodrome operators, communities in the vicinity of the aerodrome, local authorities, local business representatives, aerodrome users and other interested parties to exchange information and ideas;
  • to allow the concerns of interested parties to be raised and taken into account by the aerodrome operators, with a genuine desire on all sides to resolve any issues that may emerge;
  • to complement the legal framework within which the aerodrome operates;

However, consultation is not intended:-

  • to detract from or constrain the responsibility of the aerodrome owner and/or operator to manage the aerodrome;
  • nor to prevent interested parties from raising concerns directly with the aerodrome, or through other channnels.

The form of consultation

The nature of adequate faciltities for consultation will depend upon the type and scale of the aerodrome operation and is likely to be site specific. An aerodrome engages with those affected by and involved in its operation in a number of ways, of which the consultative committee is only one mechanism.However, the Department of Transport recognises that the best means of ensuring fair treatment of the different categories is through a consultative committee formed for this purpose. This provides an opportunity for the aerodrome to consult relevant groups simultaneously, but also allows those groups to engage with each other directly.A consultative committee provides:

  • an opportunity for information exchange between aerodrome and interested parties;
  • a structured forum for discussion so as to make recommendations to the aerodrome management and other bodies when appropriate;
  • the opportunity to reach common understanding between interested groups about the nature of aerodrome operation, thereby increasing the scope for issues to be resolved amicably. However, people interested in and affected by an aerodrome operation may have mutually inconsistent viewpoints and it is not realistic to expect that all matters of concern will be able to be resolved through discussion;
  • to promote understanding by the aerodrome operator of the nature of its impacts on local communities and businesses.


  • a consultative committee is not a dispute resolution forum;
  • a consultative committee does not have any executive or decision-making power over the aerodrome.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference of the committee should be sufficiently widely drawn to allow it to consider all matters arising from the operation of the aerodrome. The exact terms of reference will be at the discretion of the committee of the committee but would be expected to cover existing and proposed facilities, and services at the airport, input into environmental monitoring of the aerodrome, surface access responses to formal consultation papers issued by government and other regulatory authorities, and consideration of the economic, and the social and environmental impact of committee recommendations.

Officers of consultative committees

Chairman. To maintain the confidence of the general public it is important that the Chairman should no be closely identified with any sectional interest.Secretary. As with the Chairman the Secretary, too, should not be closely identified with any sectional interest. A local authority may be suitably placed to carry out this function.

Composition of consultative committees

Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 specifies the categories of bodies or organisations that should be consulted. It states that the person having management of any aerodrome to which this section applies shall provide:-

  • for users of the aerodrome,
  • for any local authority (or, if the person having management of the aerodrome is a local authority, for any other local authority in whose area the aerodrome or any part thereof is situated or whose area is in the neighbourhood of the aerodrome), and
  • for any other organisation representing the interests of persons concerned with the locality in which the aerodrome is situated, adequate facilities for consultation with respect to any matter concerning the management or administration of the aerodrome which affects their interests.

Complaints Procedure

The aerodrome should have an agreed formal procedure for recording complaints about aircraft noise and other impacts of the aerodrome on the environment.For more detailed information on the Department for Transports Guidelines you can download the full document from our website by clicking on the link below. DfT’s Guidelines for Airport Consultative Committees