HC Deb 27 October 1980 vol 991 cc1-3
1. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he is now taking to reduce aircraft noise.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Reginald Eyre)

We are continuing to encourage the development and introduction into commercial service of quieter aircraft and to ensure that aircraft landing or taking-off at airports designated under section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act 1971 are operated in such a way as to minimise disturbance.

Mr. Jessel

As last month's report on the effect of aircraft noise on sleep shows that night disturbance to sleep does occur, and as the report also shows that over half the people living around Heathrow go to bed between 10.30 pm and 11.30 pm, will my hon. Friend look into the possibility of bringing forward the beginning of night noise restraint by one hour. from 11.30 pm to 10.30 pm?

Mr. Eyre

As my hon. Friend knows, there are strict quotas on night flights at Heathrow and Gatwick and the noisier flights are being phased out. I think the House would wish to acknowledge that my hon. Friend, who has been raising this matter since 1970, has played a considerable part in achieving the restrictions. Without his efforts, there would probably have been rather more noise incidence.

Recent research into the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance indicates that our policy has been broadly right. My hon. Friend the Minister responsible for aviation will wish to consider comments, including the suggestion that my hon. Friend has put forward, on the research report before deciding on any changes.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Will the Minister indicate the Government's view of the effect of the current recession in aviation on the ability of airlines, and particularly British Airways, to acquire in sufficient numbers the aircraft that will meet the new noise certification levels in 1986?

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, but it is a long-term consideration. One would hope and expect that the trading position of the companies concerned would improve considerably before the date he mentions.

Sir Ronald Bell

Is my hon. Friend aware that those living around Heathrow have been looking forward to a diminution of aircraft movement at night and not a substitution involving more movements by less noisy aircraft? Will he bear this factor in mind in relation to the peak period charges that are now being levied and consider whether that might have the effect of shifting movements sideways into non-peak areas?

Mr. Eyre

I take the last point that my hon. and learned Friend raises. He is firmly supporting the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel). I am sure that my hon. Friend who is responsible for these matters will take full account of those points.

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