14th July, 2009
The government should constrain the increase in flights over quiet areas and produce guidance on how air traffic managers should balance noise and fuel efficiency considerations, a committee of MPs has concluded.
The Transport Committee is not noted for its environmental concerns, counting among its 11 members the former chair of Manchester Airport and an MP who claims, despite scientific consensus, that man-made climate change is a con. So it is particularly significant that its report published last week on the use of airspace emphasises the need for better regulation of environmental impacts.
AEF was invited to give oral evidence to the committee inquiry in February . Many of the committee’s conclusions reflect AEF’s input, with the report backing AEF’s demands for:
We were disappointed, however, by the report’s implication that expansion at Heathrow airport could be an appropriate way to tackle the negative environmental impacts of “stacking” – where aircraft circle in the air waiting to land. We would, of course, support measures to minimise fuel wastage. But any potential reduction in stacking that could come as a consequence of Heathrow expansion would be dwarfed by the massive increase in emissions that the extra air traffic would generate.
Decisions about air traffic management have implications both in terms of noise and emissions and there is currently no clear steer from Government on how to reconcile these considerations when they come into conflict. But when it’s the increase in traffic that’s causing problems at an airport like Heathrow, simply providing more space for more aircraft is no solution.