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Presenting at the UN, submitting evidence to the Airports Commission and meeting with Government to discuss noise

Our UK policy work this month has been focussed on the work of the Airports Commission (set up to advise Government on whether the UK needs more airport capacity) and on the Government’s own work on noise.  

Work is now well underway at the Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies, although the membership of its expert advisory group has yet to be announced and staff, we understand, are still being recruited. AEF wrote to the Commission about the importance of balance in the background and interests of those preparing policy papers for Commissioners, and we coordinated a joint letter from seven environmental NGOs calling for the Commission to ensure that environmental concerns are not sidelined, and that the possibility that no new runways are required will be given fair consideration.

We also made two formal submissions to Commission. The first was a response to the consultation paper on passenger forecasting, and noted that official forecasts, despite a series of revisions downwards, probably remain too high given that oil price is assumed by the model to flatline after 2030. The other submission commented on the ‘sifting criteria’ that should be used to assess proposals for expansion.

The Government, meanwhile, has been consulting on its policy for limiting night noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, which may have implications for the Commission’s work. Cait coordinated a meeting between Government and regulators (including representatives of Defra, the Department for Transport, and the CAA), and community groups at each of the affected airports, to discuss issues arising from the consultation; current proposals includ monetising the impact of noise in terms of both annoyance and health. Also this month, Cait also took part in an all day event organised jointly by Defra and the University of Cranfield to consider possible future scenarios for environmental noise impacts and policy in the UK.

Notwithstanding the conclusions of the night noise review, the Government’s overarching aviation framework has already been published. AEF provided comment on this the same day, expressing disappointment that the policy fails to set out the clear environmental boundaries that are needed to effectively frame consideration of new capacity, leaving many issues for the Airports Commission itself to address.

Finally, Tim has continued to represent environmental NGOs who are part of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation at the current UN talks aimed at tackling aviation emissions, and this month was invited to provide briefings both to members of the ICAO Council and to country representatives taking part in the 17-member ‘high level group’. He also took part in a workshop in Berlin facilitated by WWF, which considered how best to support the development of a global ‘market-based measure’, such as offsetting or an emissions trading system, that would cover aviation.