§ Mr. Sims
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what factors led to the change in the main easterly departure flight path from Heathrow via Dover in the early 1990s 
(2) what inquiries about the main routing of Heathrow air traffic to the east were received by the Civil Aviation Authority prior to the change in the main easterly departure flight path from Heathrow towards Dover; 
(3) what is his responsibility in respect of setting flight paths from Heathrow; 
(4) if he will restore the main easterly departure flight path from Heathrow via Dover to its former line; and whether he will make a statement; 
(5) what efforts were made to consult affected local communities about the change made in the early 1990s in the main easterly departure flight path from Heathrow towards Dover. 
§ Mr. Norris
The main easterly departure route from Heathrow towards Dover has remained unchanged for over 25 years, apart from minor but essential adjustments from time to time to compensate for movement in the position of magnetic north. At the present time, the position of magnetic north is decreasing by about 7.2 minutes a year in relation to true north and points in south-east England. This departure route has used a track of 287 deg. to the relevant navigational beacon since 19 August 1993, when it was adjusted from a track of 288 deg. to compensate for magnetic drift since the previous such adjustment made in 1986.
The Secretary of State has taken responsibility for the routes taken by departing aircraft from Heathrow up to an altitude of 4000ft. Aircraft using this particular route must attain this altitude before reaching the area of Norbury in south London, but in practice most do so much nearer the airport. Once an aircraft has reached 4,000ft. it may be vectored off the route by air traffic control on to a more direct heading to its destination. This long standing practice is essential for the efficient management of air space.