§ Mr. Latham
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are taken by the Civil Aviation Authority to control flights of helicopters over the Palace of Westminster, especially those circling around for purposes of aerial photography; and what additional noise controls are imposed in hours of darkness.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
The Palace of Westminster is within the large area notified as the London control zone under rule 21 of the Rules of the Air and Air Traffic Control Regulations 1981. Helicopters require prior permission to enter the zone from Heathrow air traffic control (ATC). Within the zone, helicopters must comply with special visual flight rules which include a requirement to follow the published helicopter routes, one of which follows the Thames alongside the Palace of Westminster. Departures from the special rules clearance for any purpose can be made only with the approval of Heathrow ATC.
There are very few helicopter movements in the zone during the hours of darkness. The main activity around the Palace of Westminster other than normal transit flights by day and night is aerial surveillance by helicopters of the Metropolitan police. Like any other flights in the control zone these must be authorised by air traffic control. No additional noise controls are required.