HL Deb 15 July 1986 vol 478 cc866-7

7.45 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, I beg to move that the draft Air Navigation (Noise Certification) Order 1986 be approved.

This order, the fourth of its kind, is intended to replace the Air Navigation (Noise Certification) Order 1984. It carries forward the provisions of the previous order and widens the scope of aircraft noise certification to include helicopters for the first time. It also applies the most stringent International Civil Aviation Organisation—known as ICAO—standards for subsonic jets to new types and derived versions of heavy propeller driven aeroplanes. As with the 1984 order, we thought it preferable to revoke the existing order rather than introduce an amending order. It is, after all, a complex enough document as it stands.

The present order, like that which it will replace, is to be made under the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 and will give effect in the United Kingdom to the noise standards agreed within ICAO at the seventh meeting of its committee on aircraft noise. These standards were promulgated last November. They are not operative within ICAO member states, however, until they are given effect in national legislation. The draft order before your Lordships is therefore designed to do just that.

Perhaps I should make the point that the standards which ICAO has developed are set at levels which have been shown to be technologically feasible and economically reasonable for the category of aircraft to which they apply. They ensure that all types of aircraft have equally stringent standards applied to them and that development of quieter aircraft keeps pace with the latest technological advances. The aviation industry in the UK has known for some time of these latest ICAO standards and is content that they should be introduced.

While aircraft noise is still a formidable problem around our major airports, a comparison of the 35 noise and number index contours—the generally recognised indicator for the on-set of annoyance—shows that between 1974 and 1984 the area within the contour around Heathrow nearly halved. This significant reduction is primarily the result of our noise certification policies.

The purpose of the order is to make another positive, if small, step towards reducing environmental disturbance. While the problem of aircraft noise will never go away entirely, it can be contained and I believe that while recognising the legitimate rights of those who use, operate and make the aircraft, these new standards represent a fair and reasonable balance between the interests of the environment and the technical feasibility and economic costs of meeting them. I commend the draft order to your Lordships, and beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 7th July be approved.—(The Earl of Caithness.)

Lord Underhill

My Lords, once again I am grateful, this time to the noble Earl, for explaining what he rightly says would otherwise be a complicated order. Anything that extends noise certification to extra craft is to be welcomed.

I believe the order is not to be considered by the Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments in the other place until tomorrow and therefore I do not have the advantage of its comments, which is always useful. Perhaps the noble Earl will confirm that, as I believe, the order has been before the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments which is required before an affirmative order can be dealt with by this House.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am happy to confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, that the order has been before the Joint Committee, which approved it without comment. I should like to add that it is nice for the other place to have our comments before we have theirs. I thank the noble Lord for his welcome to this order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.