What recent assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the potential (a) health and (b) economic impact of noise pollution on communities below aircraft flightpaths.
The Government recognise that there are impacts associated with aircraft noise and keep all relevant evidence under review. The Department for Transport has previously commissioned research on the effects of aviation noise on annoyance, health and wellbeing, and has tasked the Civil Aviation Authority to carry out a further survey this year. All major airports are required, as the hon. Lady will be aware, to map their noise impacts on a common basis every five years, and some do so annually.
I thank the Minister for his response. My constituents and thousands of residents across west and south-west London and neighbouring counties constantly have to put up with the roaring engines of aircraft overhead at all hours of the day and during much of the night. There are real fears, based on international evidence, that that noise may intensify as a result of airspace modernisation. Will the Minister commit to reinstating the independent noise ombudsman, and to working with Environment Ministers to make aircraft noise a statutory nuisance, so that those residents might have some redress in future?
The hon. Lady will be aware that there have been noise-related restrictions on major airports including Heathrow for many years and, more recently, noise maps and noise action plans at Heathrow. Of course, we recognise the seriousness of this issue. It is worth saying that technology is already making a significant difference—new aircraft models make 30% to 50% less noise on take-off and landing—but we intend to consult later this year on proposals for the next night-flight regime, beginning in October 2025.
The Secretary of State made no commitment on the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the UK at a recent airports conference. This week, the Minister for aviation in the other place said at a pilots reception that airspace modernisation was stuck in the muck. The Government’s Jet Zero Council has achieved exactly what it said on the tin: zero. Labour has a plan for a cleaner, greener future. Get your finger out, Secretary of State!
It seems to have passed the hon. Gentleman by that we had a detailed consultation on SAF investment. We have put £165 million into the advanced fuels fund to support five UK sustainable aviation fuel plants, which builds on the “Green Fuels, Green Skies” competition, and we plan to introduce a sustainable aviation fuels mandate in 2025. Modernisation is an extremely complex issue, but it is also vital, in part in order to ensure a more protective approach where possible to the issue of noise impact, as highlighted by Munira Wilson.
I call the Chair of the Select Committee.
May I draw my right hon. Friend’s attention to the Transport Committee’s report published today on alternative fuels? One of our recommendations is to build on the work the Government have already done on SAF by introducing a contracts for difference model, which would help to make the UK a world leader in this technology.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his report and the work he is doing as the new Chair of the Transport Committee. We are aware of the calls for CfDs. He may have seen the report published by Philip New on this issue. We are already working on not merely the mandate but a clearing house to support testing and certification. Of course, we will continue to look at the question of CfDs, but the mandate and the work we are doing towards that remains the Government policy, and rightly so.
I call the SNP spokesperson.
Decarbonising aviation is difficult, and no one would say otherwise, but there are quick wins to reduce carbon, such as airspace modernisation, which is likely to cost under £30 million, and sustainable aviation fuels, which will be the bridge fuel until future forms of propulsion are introduced. The Government have provided some funding for SAF plants in England and Wales, but the support is dwarfed by support offered elsewhere. Without a CfD model in place to support SAFs, the Government will not get their five plants operating by their target date, and they are nowhere near their long-term targets for SAF use, are they?
It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman raises the question of airspace modernisation. He may not be aware that the environmental benefits are already in place. The introduction of free route airspace in 2021 over Scotland is estimated by National Air Traffic Services to save the carbon dioxide equivalent of the power used by 3,500 family homes every year. He is right that this is a complex issue, but it is also one on which the Government are taking a wide range of energetic measures, and we will continue to pursue those, as we have described.