HC Deb 21 October 1992 vol 212 cc436-8 3.33 pm
Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the control of noise pollution by aircraft; to establish a method of compensation for local residents affected thereby; and for connected purposes. I recognise that the House is awaiting a much more explosive and noisier debate than that from aircraft noise. However, I am going to take full advantage, preceding the pyrotechnics that are about to follow, to present my Bill while the House warms up for the main event.

My Bill is about privacy and the right to a quiet life. It may not sound very important, but my Bill is about the right of people and their families to sit in their living rooms and, if the weather is good, to sit in their gardens in peace and quiet. My Bill recognises that, since the introduction of the jet aircraft about 25 years ago, communities and families living near airports have had to suffer high and unacceptable noise nuisance. Speaking as an aeronautical engineer, I know the efforts that have been made over the years by manufacturers and operators to reduce the impact of noise on the local community. Their efforts and endeavours—[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. There is far too much noise pollution in this Chamber. I cannot hear the hon. Member. Mr. Deva—speak up.

Mr. Deva

Their efforts and endeavours must be commended. They have achieved much, and I look forward to their achieving more.

In the past 15 years, aircraft noise impact has been reduced by introducing minimum noise routes, which are minimum population routes, with quieter noise-certified aircraft, noise insulation grant schemes, noise monitoring and night flight restrictions. Aircraft noise creates disturbance and annoyance. In addition, night flights, even one night flight, can cause people to be woken and can then prevent sleep.

In the summer months in particular, windows need to be open, which nullifies the efficacy of noise insulation for the lucky few who have it. In summer, of course, people want to spend more time out of doors and in their gardens, and aircraft noise can become extremely annoying and intrusive. In 1989, the date for which the latest figures are available, half a million people in west London, where my constituents in Brentford and Isleworth reside, were obliged to suffer disturbing levels of aircraft noise, about 35 noise number index or 57 LEQ.

There is now the prospect that aircraft movements at Heathrow will grow from more than 360,000 a year to more than 390,000 by the year 2005. However, it is sadly an indubitable fact that airport noise will not simply go away. The modern turbo fan is now fully noise optimised and there is no clever technology around the corner to reduce noise further.

More alarmingly, the next generation of engines, the ultra-high bypass jets and unducted prop fans will be fundamentally noisier than the current generation of noise optimised turbo fans. The British Government and the EEC, acting in concert with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, have begun to take action to reduce and eliminate the use of noisier aircraft. Under the ICAO annexe 16, a framework agreement was made in November 1991 for the phasing out of the noisier chapter 2 aircraft from April 1995 to March 2002. But the year 2002 is a long time indeed to wait for noise-exposed residents. If no encouragement is now given for their early and more rapid phasing out, particularly at heavily populated airports such as Heathrow, local communities around airports will continue to suffer unacceptable noise nuisance well into the next century.

But that is not all. As aircraft noise certification is weight-related, the heavier an aircraft the louder it is. That means that even the so-called quieter aircraft defined in chapter 3 and not required to be phased out can be very noisy indeed.

My Bill seeks to establish that chapter 2 aircraft need an added inducement to be phased out at highly populated airports such as Heathrow more rapidly than hitherto envisaged, and that chapter 3 aircraft need to be compelled to be flown at all times in such a manner as to create the minimum noise on every occasion and every flight. Modern technology now enables us to put that into effect for the first time. The very recent introduction of the new noise tracking and monitoring equipment has enabled the British Airports Authority to have precise information on each aircraft and the noise that it generates on the ground on a real-time basis.

My Bill will seek to establish that, unless those aircraft are flown in such a manner as to create the minimum permissible noise defined and specified in an annex to my Bill, they will suffer a financial penalty related to their weight, which naturally approximates to the number of passengers carried by each aircraft type. I have always believed that the polluter must pay. On that basis, I suggest that if the limit is infringed, the aircraft responsible should pay a noise charge. The charge would be collected by the airport authority and given as compensation to the local noise-exposed community on a pro-rata basis, depending on the extent of the noise exposure.

For far too long, international air passengers have continued to accrue the benefits of using airports near heavily populated centres because it is convenient to them to do so. They have paid scant regard to the inconvenience, disturbance and noise caused to local residents, who have not benefited from their individual activities. My Bill seeks to redress the balance on the occasions when noisy aircraft are used and when quieter aircraft are flown in a manner which disregards the environmental needs and rights of the local community.

I know that all airline operators and organisations involved, from the BAA to local organisations in my area such as the Heathrow Association for Control of Aircraft Noise, are committed to reducing the level of noise nuisance. My Bill will create a more harmonious relationship between the air transport users and the local airport community.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva, Mr. David Shaw, Mr. Toby Jessel, Ms. Diane Abbott, Mr. lain Sproat, Mr. Gordon McMaster, Mr. Andrew Rowe and Mr. Michael Fabricant.