Aircraft Noise (Gatwick)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 1977.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith , East Grinstead 12:00 am, 21st March 1977

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has for reducing the present maximum noise limits at Gatwick Airport.

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

I have no plans to reduce them at present.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith , East Grinstead

Is it not vital that the noise levels should be progressively reduced in view of the fact that a considerable number of people live within the monitoring points and in fact are closer to the monitoring points and are, therefore, subjected to greater noise than the so-called official noise limits?

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

I am aware of the noise problem at Gatwick. The hon. Gentleman will know from the consultation document issued on the London airports that there is likely to be, because of the projected increased use of Gatwick, a short-term worsening of the situation. That is unavoidable. On the other hand, he will also know that I have taken steps to restrict very substantially the number of night jet movements during the summer, and there is now a consultative document out to deal with the question of night jet movements at Heathrow and at Gatwick.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

Is my hon. Friend aware that the endeavours of himself and of his Department to reduce noise at Heathrow Airport are very much appreciated, but would he not accept that to suggest the simple transfer of some elements of traffic from one London airport to another is not really constructive? In view of his remarkable endeavours in the past three months, can he state whether any progress has been made in reducing night flights at Heathrow?

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

The redistribution of noise is always a problem, but it is separate from the need to utilise more effectively the facilities which will become increasingly available at Gatwick, and it is necessary that we should do that.

On the question of the reduction of night jet noise, only last week I issued the consultative document putting forward the options that are available for dealing with this matter. They comprehend essentially possible closures as far as night jet movements are concerned or gradual phasing out of noisier aircraft while permitting quieter aircraft to continue to operate. These matters should be carefully considered.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith , East Grinstead

In view of the Minister's highly unsatisfactory answers, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham and Crawley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the arrangements for monitoring aircraft noise at Gatwick.

Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate and Banstead

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are his current arrangements for monitoring the noise levels created at Gatwick Airport as experienced in the main adjacent centres of population.

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

The noise caused by each jet aircraft take-off is recorded by the automatic noise monitoring system using four fixed microphones. In addition, sample measurements of aircraft noise are taken at a variety of other places around the airport.

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham and Crawley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of those who live near Gatwick Airport believe that airline pilots know exactly where these microphones are and do their best to avoid them? Will he either use his powers to get the airlines to fly on their proper flight routes or move the microphones to where the aircraft fly?

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

We believe that it is better to try to persuade those who have infringed the noise limits to adopt a better and more reliable course than they have in the past rather than engage in confrontation. The evidence is that the infringements constitute about one-half of 1 per cent. of all jet take-offs. At Heathrow the position has improved substantially. At Gatwick the position has not altered materially since last year.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, having taken fairly robust steps to limit night noise at Heathrow, he has not taken comparative steps to help at Gatwick, where the nuisance is increasing—and he knows that it is increasing?

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong, and he knows that he is wrong. The permitted number of night jet flights has been reduced by 25 per cent. in the summer and by 30 per cent. in the winter. This is a direct result of action which my Department has taken over the course of the last few years.