HC Deb 22 February 1999 vol 326 cc64-6W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received on the departmental consultation document relating to night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports; and if he will publish a breakdown by constituency of the responses. [71915]

Ms Glenda Jackson

The closing date for responses was 12 February 1999 and analysis of them is proceeding. I will comment on the responses when announcing the decision and will make available for inspection, following the decision, those responses where confidentiality has not been requested. It is not the intention to prepare a breakdown of responses by parliamentary constituency, as this would involve disproportionate cost. Responses from organisations do not relate to particular districts, but consideration will be given to making available a breakdown of responses from individuals by postal district.

Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to commission independent research into the effects of night flights on people living around Heathrow Airport. [71922]

Ms Glenda Jackson

Our intention to commission a new research trial on the effect of night-time aircraft noise on sleep disturbance was announced on 27 February last year, when the first stage consultation on night restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports was published. The trial is expected to focus on methodologies, assessing experimental and analytical techniques—and their limitations—which are related to the measurement of sleep disturbance. The findings of the trial will help us decide whether to proceed with a full-scale study of sleep disturbance, and to determine what should be included in any such study. The trial will be based at Manchester Airport, which provides a suitable combination of densely populated communities close to the airport with a spread of aircraft noise throughout the night. It may be extended to Heathrow if actual noise levels in the early morning at Manchester prove insufficient for the purposes of the trial. If, on completion of the trial, we decide to continue with more detailed research, the question of where that study would be based is one of many issues which would need to be considered at that time, based on objective research considerations.

A steering group, which includes community and industry representatives, has been established to oversee the trial and expert advice is obtained from a technical group made up of specialists in relevant scientific fields. Further peer group advice will also be sought from a panel of international experts. Detailed proposals for the trial will be announced following completion of discussions with these groups.

Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the studies used in preparing the latest departmental consultation document on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. [71914]

Ms Glenda Jackson

The second stage consultation paper on night restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, issued on 17 November 1998,Official Report, column 492, refers at Appendix D to the following studies:

  1. 1. "Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance: final report", DORA Report 8008 (£3.50)
  2. 2. "Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance: designated night data for sites surveyed in the main phase of the study", DORA Communication 8004 (£1.50)
  3. 3. "Noise Disturbance at Night near Heathrow and Gatwick Airports: 1984 check study", DR Report 8513 (£2.50)
  4. 66
  5. 4. "Noise Disturbance at Night near Heathrow and Gatwick Airports: Critique of the technical issues raised by consultees during the 1986 Public Consultation", DORA Report 8715 (£3.00)
  6. 5. "Report of a Field Study of Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance", Department of Transport 1992 (£11.00)
  7. 6. "Night Noise Contours: a feasibility study", National Physical Laboratory 1997.

Also referred to in the consultation document are:

  1. 7. "Night Time Ground Noise", DORA Report 9850 October 1998 (£20.00)
  2. 8. "Assessment of Revised Heathrow Early Mornings Approach Procedures Trials", DORA Report 9823, November 1998; and
  3. 9. historical daytime noise exposure contours for Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports prepared by DORA on behalf of the Department; those for 1996 being the most recent available at the time the consultation paper was issued.

Reference was also made to the "Heathrow Runway Alternation Trials—Research Among Local Residents" Final Report, March 1998, prepared by MVA for the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee. In addition the consultation document includes information on such matters as usage of the noise quotas and movement limits since October 1993 and the main points made in the responses to the preliminary consultation, some of which referred to studies carried out.

Advice on how to obtain copies of each document or to consult reference copies free of charge, was given in the consultation document.