The CAA has begun to formulate an airspace strategy for the UK for now up to 2030 and recently consulted on the high level principles that will inform how aircraft are managed and routed (see our earlier article). AEF, which was part of a small ‘Challenge Team’ invited to comment on the draft strategy in person, also submitted a written response. This argues that:
- Aircraft noise can significantly affect people outside traditional ‘noise contours’, including those living directly underneath flight paths; to ensure that these communities are not overlooked in the policy making process, noise should be assessed with a range of different metrics.
- A simple policy of minimising the number of people affected by aircraft noise has led to some flight paths being concentrated over very specific routes, with people living on those routes having little respite; it is time to consider alternative policies, such as a move to temporal dispersion (using different flight paths at different times of day or days of the week).
- The focus on trade-offs between noise and climate considerations (routing traffic away from densely populated areas but thereby increasing total fuel usage, for example) is misleading; in many cases benefits can be achieved on both counts, such as the removal of aircraft ‘stacks’.
- More work is needed to develop appropriate means of assessing and comparing the ‘costs’ of noise and emissions impacts.
- The CAA needs to include community and environmental representatives as ‘key stakeholders’ in developing its strategy; its current approach favours industry representation.
For our full response to the consultation click here