The AEF response to the 2008 Defra ‘Consultation on the guidance for Airport Operators to produce action plans under the terms of the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006’ can be downloaded here.
Our response expresses a number of concerns about the approach outlined, central to which is the fact that the ‘competent authorities’ for drawing up noise action plans will be the airport operators themselves. Since there are no Government-defined limit values setting out maximum noise thresholds around airports, airport operators are effectively free to do as they wish.
Experience suggests that relying on voluntary measures on the part of airport operators is not an effective way to protect communities from excessive noise. We urge Defra to appoint an independent body to act as the ‘competent authority’ as soon as possible. In the meantime, for these guidelines to carry any weight, we consider it essential that the Secretary of State provides appropriate noise limit values based on the noise maps that have been produced for the UK’s larger airports.