To ask the Secretary of State for Transport
(2) what assessment her Department has made of the effect on (a) National Parks and (b) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty of (i) current and (ii) projected patterns of aircraft noise; and if she will make a statement;
(3) what steps she has taken to rural-proof her Department's policy on aircraft noise.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for approving the use of UK airspace, as part of its role to develop and enforce a policy for the sustainable use of that airspace. The process for making changes to airspace is governed by the CAA's Airspace Change Process under which it is for airspace change sponsors, such as NATS, to develop proposals and then consult on them.
The Secretary of State for Transport has issued Directions (2001) to the CAA requiring it to take into account the need to reduce, control and mitigate as far as possible the environmental impacts of civil aircraft operations. Supporting Guidance (2002) encourages the CAA, as far as possible to avoid routes below 7,000 ft over built-up areas and to pursue policies that help to preserve the tranquillity of the countryside, such as avoiding overflight of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where this does not add to the environmental burdens on more densely populated areas.
The Directions and Guidance are on the Department for Transport's website: