§ Mr. Harry Greenway
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to seek to eliminate aircraft noise in west London; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
Elimination of noise would require silent aircraft or the closure of Heathrow airport. The world's leading international airport is of vital importance to the nation's prosperity. It provides direct employment for 47,000 people and generates some 25,000 additional jobs in the immediate area.
The Government are taking steps to reduce noise disturbance in surrounding areas. The ban of non noise-certificated jets on the UK register from 1 January 1986 has been successful in environmental terms. It will be followed by a similar ban of foreign-registered noisy jets from the beginning of next year.
We are now turning our attention to the next generation of jets, the so-called chapter 2 types. With our partners in Europe, we are examining ways in which they too might be gradually phased out, in favour of modern chapter 3 aircraft which make very much less noise than their predecessors.
The Secretary of State has designated Heathrow airport for noise regulation purposes. The Government have placed restrictions on the number and type of aircraft movements at specified hours at night. Immediately after take-off, aircraft are required to keep to a small number of defined routes, chosen to avoid as far as possible, major built-up areas. They are also required to comply with maximum noise limits, by day and by night.
The present restrictions on aircraft movements at night apply until March 1988. We have recently consulted my hon. Friend, and other hon. Members whose constituencies are near the airport, on our proposals for night restrictions thereafter. We propose to reduce the quota for night flights, limiting the number of flights in future to about the present level. We propose to ban departures in the small hours by all but the quiter modern aircraft.
Regular monitoring of the daytime noise climate around Heathrow has shown that the area affected by 742W noise disturbance has been considerably reduced in recent years. The area in excess of 35 NNI (noise and number index) was reduced from 573 sq. kilometres in 1980 to 378 sq. kilometres in 1986.
Heathrow Airport Limited already monitors the noise of each departing aircraft. BAA plc is working with the Department in the development of a new system for monitoring noise and track-keeping in the vicinity of the airport. When this is ready we shall consider new noise limits which could take into account the relatively low noise levels of modern aircraft.