It seems the Government’s in a tight spot. The Environmental Noise Regulations implement European legislation designed to manage individuals’ exposure to noise from road, rail, air traffic and industry.
While delegating most of the responsibility for aircraft noise management to airport operators themselves, the regulations recognise that some guidance must come from the top, and require that a minimum level of standard setting be done by the Secretary of State for Environment. And they specify the timeframe within which task must be completed. ‘Limit values’ for noise levels requiring priority action must be identified by July 2007, state the Regulations, and ‘Quiet areas’, which need special consideration, must be identified by September 2007.
These deadlines were missed long ago, while evidence that community annoyance as a result of aircraft noise has been on the increase has, meanwhile, been quietly ignored. So what is the Government’s plan for rectifying this failure to deliver? A new set of proposals to change the legislation so as to remove any reference to the Government’s failed timeframe for delivery.
The link below details AEF’s view of these proposals.
The updated version of the Environmental Noise Regulations, published in July 2009, showed that the government had backed down on AEF’s key demand – to keep in place the requirement for the Secretary of State to set limit values or other criteria to help determine where action on noise is essential. While this commitment has not been fulfilled, the requirement on the government to do it at least allows us to continue to keep up the pressure for them to avoid fence sitting on this important point.
In its summary of the consultation responses, however, Defra argues that while the requirement has been retained, the department considers that the duty has already been fulfilled! AEF will be taking up this matter with government as our views on this point continue to differ.