HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc1688-91
31. Mr. A. E. Hunter

asked the Minister of Aviation what additional measures he is proposing to take regarding the limits imposed on aircraft noise, particularly near London, Heathrow, Airport.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

In addition to the measures already in force I am considering, with the airlines, the possibility of reducing the permitted day levels of aircraft noise at Heathrow, at the first main built-up area under the take-off path, to 106 PNdb for all jet aircraft except those loaded to an all-up weight of more than 260,000 lb. These latter aircraft will be required, as at present, to conform with the limit of 110 PNdb, and to operate as quietly as is practicable.

I am also proposing to examine, in consultation with operators and manufacturers, whether and, if so, when it might be practicable to apply this day limit of 106 PNdb to all new aircraft coming into service, irrespective of weight. This, of course, raises international implications and with this in mind I am considering inviting interested Governments to a conference in London at which airport authorities, airline operators, manufacturers and scientists could be represented to discuss all aspects of noise in the vicinity of airports.

Mr. Hunter

I thank my right hon. Friend for his efforts and endeavours to assist people living near London Airport. Will he issue a report of the outcome of the international conference which he is arranging with other Governments? Is he aware that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have urged international consultations on the question of aircraft noise and that if he is able to issue a report on this conference it would be of great assistance to all concerned? Might I take this opportunity to wish the conference every success?

Mr. Jenkins

Yes, Sir. The first thing is to get the conference going, and I am hopeful that it will be possible to get it started in the not too distant future, perhaps next spring. It will be a conference not only of Governments but, as I have indicated, aircraft authorities, operators, scientists and manufacturers will be represented. In these circumstances, there would be no question of holding a secret or confidential conference. Its results will, therefore, be made public and I will also consider reporting, to the House after the conference has been concluded.

Mr. Maude

Would the right hon. Gentleman say roughly how his proposed new limit of 106 compares with the practice in other countries with major airports? Is it to be lower than the generality, or about the average?

Mr. Jenkins

I would not like to give a firm pronouncement on that without notice. It is certainly lower than that in application at many major airports, but one of the problems which we must face in this matter is that London Airport, from the point of view of noise nuisance to citizens, is one of the worst sited major airports in the world.

Mr. Molley

Would my right hon. Friend consider acquainting those local authorities affected with any proposals or propositions he may make ápropos this issue?

Mr. Jenkins

Yes, Sir. We keep in constant touch with the local authorities concerned, through the Consultative Committee, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is in particularly close touch with them.

Sir B. Craddock

Will the Minister say what progress has been made in research into the muffler and such devices to try to cut down noise as well as other nuisances?

Mr. Jenkins

This is precisely one of the questions that we want to discuss at the conference. We are in the position at present in which one can keep the noise down to, I would not say a totally tolerable level, but not a completely intolerable level with regard to lighter aircraft, but for the heavier aircraft we have to continue to run at 110 PNdb. What I am looking for is the possibility that as a result of discussion and forward planning we might be able to reduce that level for all aircraft in the future.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that there has been a welcome decrease in aircraft noise over the last two of three years, for which the previous Government and this Government have been responsible, and that we are grateful for it? As there are now suggestions that London Airport is to be increased substantially in size, will he give an undertaking that night flights will not necessarily be increased as well?

Mr. Jenkins

I am aware of the discomfort caused by night flights, and this is something that we have very closely in mind. It is not so much a question of greatly increasing the size of the airport as of using much more intensively the facilities that are at present broadly available.