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Airport Consultative Committees

Under Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (revised 2002), 51 designated aerodromes – of which only 49 are currently in operation, varying in size from Heathrow down to small General Aviation airfields – must consult equally and fairly users of the aerodrome, local authorities and community groups about the airport’s operations. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean a consultative committee is required, the Government regards a committee as the best way for airports to fulfil this requirement. Many airports choose to operate consultative committees despite not being formally ‘designated’ by the Act.

The Department for Transport has issued several versions of guidance about how consultative committees should be set up and how they should operate, though airports are lot legally required to follow these recommendations. New guidelines were published in 2014 and included a number of changes recommended by AEF .

Many AEF members find consultative committees a useful forum for communication with their local airport, particularly as a means of gaining accurate information, for example in relation to track-keeping and flight path changes. While consultation will never be an adequate substitute for meaningful environmental protections, we believe that when effectively operated (with a truly independent chair, for example, and fair representation of different parties, as recommended in the Government’s guidelines), the committees can be a valuable means of communication between airports and local communities.

We believe that in the longer term legislation should be updated to extend the requirement to provide consultative facilities to cover all UK airports, and to require adherence to Government guidance on how committees should be set up and operated. We would also like to see the creation of a dispute resolution forum to give community groups and individuals some right of appeal should they feel that they are unfairly excluded from taking part in a consultative committee.

The legislation – Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (as amended)

  1. “This section applies to any aerodrome which is designated for the purposes of this section by an Order made by the Secretary of State.
  2. “The person having the management of any aerodrome to which this section applies shall provide – a. for users of the aerodrome, b. for any local authority (or, if the person having the management of the aerodrome is a local authority, for any other local authority in whose area the aerodrome or any part thereof is situated or whose area is in the neighbourhood of the aerodrome), and c. for any other organisation representing the interests of persons concerned with the locality in which the aerodrome is situated, adequate facilities for consultation with respect to any matter concerning the management or administration of the aerodrome which affects their interests.
  3. “The reference in subsection (2)(b) above to any local authority includes in relation to the area of Greater London a reference to the Mayor of London acting on behalf of the Greater London Authority.”

Airports at present designated are (2002 data):

Aberdeen Biggin Hill Birmingham Blackbushe Blackpool
Bournemouth (Hurn) Bristol (Lulsgate) Cambridge Cardiff Carlisle
Goodwood Aerodrome (Chichester) Coventry Denham East Midlands Inverness
Leeds Bradford Liverpool Edinburgh Elstree Exeter
Fairoaks Filton*  Glasgow Gloucestershire Headcorn
Humberside London City London Gatwick London Heathrow London Luton
London Stansted Lydd Manchester Manston Newcastle
Northampton (Sywell) Norwich Oxford (Kidlington) Perth (Scone) Plymouth City*
Prestwick Redhill Rochester Shoreham Southampton
Southend Sumburgh Teesside (Durham Tees Valley Airport) White Waltham Wolverhampton
Wycombe Air Park

*aerodrome no longer in operation.

Related documents

For documents on all Airports sub-categories see the Airports page.