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Civil Aviation Bill

The Civil Aviation Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on 27th June. The bill is now at ‘committee stage’ and a number of significant amendments have been tabled by MPs, following discussions with AEF. It will go for a third reading in the autumn.


The Civil Aviation Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on 27th June.The act is now at ‘committee stage’ and a number of significant amendments have been tabled by MPs, following discussions with AEF. The bill will go for a third reading in the autumn.

The bill is largely a tidying-up exercise on the 1982 act, but there are changes in line with policies signalled in the aviation White Paper.

Most of the provisions are of little concern to us but there are two important new provisions.

While the act continues to allow noise restrictions to be based on limits to flight numbers, it allows for alternative noise limits. This is clearly intended to facilitate the government to dispense with the current absolute cap on the number of movements at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, as signalled in the White Paper. This is a matter of considerable concern and the AEF has persuaded a number of MPs to oppose the clause at committee stage.

The other main change is that the act allows airports and the Secretary of State to impose restrictions and charges in respect of emissions (pollution). The 1982 act only referred to noise.

Perhaps the most important point to note is that while the bill allows airport operators to introduce restrictions and charges for noise and pollution, there is very little incentive for them to do so. And while the government can force airports to impose restrictions and charges, all the evidence is that the government has no interest in doing so.

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