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Shaping the aviation strategy

What is the aviation strategy?

The aviation strategy, which the Government is in the process of developing, plans for the next three decades of aviation and, once completed, will replace the 2013 Aviation Policy Framework. The purpose of the strategy is, according to Government’s consultation document, to “boost economic growth, connectivity and skills”.

Between July and October 2017, the Government consulted on the first stage of the strategy’s development, which set out their proposed approach and the issues they would like to explore. In December 2018, the Government released the Aviation Strategy Green Paper which remains open for consultation until 11th April 2019. The strategy is built around six objectives, which were set out in the strategy’s framework, and are to:

  • Help the aviation industry work for its customers
  • Ensure a safe and secure way to travel
  • Build a global and connected Britain
  • Encourage competitive markets
  • Support growth while tackling environmental impacts
  • Develop innovation, technology and skills

The final strategy is most likely to be published in 2019.

Our view

  • The objective of the draft strategy is to support growth where it arises. While the Government intends to explore whether noise limits may be an appropriate way to regulate the industry in the future, and will consider targets for climate change and air pollution, there is no suggestion that environmental ambition will present a challenge to growth. There’s also an overemphasis on consumer interests compared to the protection of impacted communities.
  • We see no logic in publishing the strategy only after a decision on whether to expand Heathrow is due to be voted on by MPs. The strategy should set the environmental framework for growth, and Heathrow expansion should be assessed only in that context.

AEF’s response to the first consultation can be found here.

What we want to see

  • Specific environmental objectives that ensure that aviation policy is given the appropriate framework
  • The removal of the unconditional reference to supporting growth in the Government’s target ‘Support growth while tackling environmental impacts’: growth in aviation should be supported only if environmental impacts are effectively tackled
  • An urgent plan for delivering the current assumption of the Climate Change Act that aviation emissions will not exceed 37.5 Mt by 2050, noting that emission forecasts produced by the DfT, CCC and the Airports Commission indicate that a policy of ‘growth everywhere’ will result in emissions exceeding this limit
  • A commitment to consider additional measures for aviation in order to deliver the Paris Agreement, taking account of the CCC’s forthcoming aviation review
  • A plan for tackling noise that reflects the latest advice of the World Health Organisation and that sets meaningful short term and longer term noise targets
  • A strategy for ensuring that aviation development does not compromise any wider efforts to protect the public from dangerous air pollution including, but not limited to, the achievement of current legal limits

What we’re doing

  • We have published a series of discussion papers on how the aviation strategy should approach noise, air pollution and climate change (see below), and have tested our thinking on these issues by convening expert roundtable discussions 
  • We are challenging the narrow focus on growth and consumers by encouraging a balanced policy that includes meeting Government’s duty to the public and to protection of the environment


Discussion Paper 1 AEF discussion paper on aircraft noise

Discussion Paper 2 AEF discussion paper on aviation and climate change

Discussion Paper 3 AEF discussion paper on aviation and air pollution