HL Deb 14 June 1984 vol 452 cc1251-2

3.7. p.m.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the Answer given on 15th March (Col. 858), they will give details of the progress made on the review by the European Air Navigation Planning Group of the air route structure.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, I am glad to report that the European Air Navigation Group's proposals for improvements in route alignment were sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Montreal headquarters on 11th May. The proposals are being studied by ICAO experts and will then be considered by the full ICAO Council. In the United Kingdom we have taken action in advance of the council's formal approval. For example, last month we introduced two weekend routes from Land's End to France and Spain, plus a new daily route between the radio beacon at Midhurst and Dublin.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, that seems a most satisfactory Answer, and we are all glad to note the improvement and that this country has led the way. May I ask the Minister two points arising from that Answer? Has the noble Lord any idea as to when the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation will be able to decide on these matters?—because I think they have to agree them before they can be adopted as civil air routes. Secondly, have the Government any information as to whether there has yet been time to make the service on these routes more efficient and to save costs?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, so far as the first of the noble Baroness's supplementary questions goes, I understand that the Council of the ICAO have been somewhat pre-occupied lately, not least with the Korean airliner disaster, and it is therefore not yet possible to be precise as to when they will be able to consider these matters, but we hope that they may have an opportunity to do so later this year. With regard to the noble Baroness's second supplementary, the new routes to which I have referred have been available for only a week or two. Therefore, I am afraid that it is not yet possible to give any indication of the economies that have been effected.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, following that encouraging reply, perhaps it might be possible to put down a Question before the end of the year to find out whether progress has finally been achieved.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am sure it will be.

Lord Whaddon

My Lords, bearing in mind that the vast majority of United Kingdom-registered aircraft are general aviation aircraft, which prefer to fly in uncontrolled airspace, can the noble Lord say whether the new air routes in the United Kingdom to which he has referred take away any more uncontrolled airspace from general aviation? Is the noble Lord bearing in mind the interests of general aviation in trying to keep lower airspace free?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, nobody is more concerned to safeguard the interests of general aviation users than I am. As the noble Lord will be aware, it has always been the policy to ensure that there is a band of airspace below the controlled airspace to which I have referred kept available for general aviation and smaller aircraft. That is certainly the case in this instance.