Having spent the Easter break reading the long awaited Aviation Policy Framework (APF), my initial thoughts are that it is not as encouraging as one would have hoped for in environmental terms given the initial draft consulted upon last year.
I should have suspected the worst as it was released just before the Easter break by the Department of Transport (DoT) released late one friday afternoon. Ideal time for it not to draw too much attention. During the consultation the right questions were being asked and thus the London Assembly Health & Environment Committee responded on environmental concerns like noise and air pollution and some governance issues on behalf of Londoners.
In term of noise, the decision to retain the 57Leq contour is frustrating as is the assertion that compensation should be paid only for a 3dB increase in noise when the comparable level for road schemes is 1dB.
In regard to air quality, the document contributes nothing concrete to helping solve the problem and is extremely disappointing in this area. The Government appear to be passing the buck to Davies who has pledged to assess all proposals for new capacity in terms of their air quality impact.
All this confirms to me that the APF has given the Davies Commission a free rein over environmental issues, illustrating well how ministerial changes do matter. When both Justine Greening MP & Theresa Villiers MP were at DoT covering aviation at least both were asking the right questions and we saw that clearly within the consultation document. After this episode I’ve come to the view now that environmental concerns and responsibilities in the transport arena should be taken out of the DoT and put into one of the environmental ministries asap. Otherwise the issues won’t get the attention merited of them by Londoners.