SASIG 2013/14 Meeting Dates

Regional News

Industry News

European News

Parliamentary News

Government News

House of Commons Questions

House of Lords Questions

Media News


SASIG 2014/15 Meeting Dates

27 June 2014

24 October 2014

13 March 2015

Meetings are held at Local Government House, Smith Square, SW1P 3HZ, location map.


Regional News

4 Apr 2014 – Conservative Member of Parliament for Maidenhead, Theresa May has met the Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, to discuss the future of Heathrow Airport, the impact of proposed expansion, and the implications on her constituency.

During their meeting, Ms. May told Sir Howard that a number of jobs in the Maidenhead area depended on Heathrow Airport, including many local residents who work at the airport itself. She also mentioned the concerns that local residents have about aircraft noise, particularly at night, and the need to consider the environmental impacts of any proposals.

Ms. May said, ‘it was very useful to meet Sir Howard Davies to discuss the work of the Airports Commission. The future of Heathrow Airport is of vital importance to the Maidenhead area – for local businesses who rely on good transport links, and for local residents concerned about noise and the environment. I look forward to the Commission’s final report being published next year and I will carefully study any proposals that come forward relating to Heathrow.’

7 Apr 2014 – Bradford Council leader David Green, has dismissed the idea that Leeds- Bradford International Airport should be relocated as ‘fanciful’. Mr Green is part of a group of public and private sector organisations – Bradford Breakthrough, which says it wants the airport to stay at its current Yeadon site – and that investment should be made in better transport and infrastructure links. Bradford Breakthrough members have unanimously opposed the idea of moving the airport following calls by the leaders of Leeds and Wakefield Councils for a new regional airport to be developed on another site.

7 Apr 2014 – Developers say Manston Airport is a suitable site for housing development as uncertainty remains over its future. 9 Apr 2014 – The Dutch airline operator KLM have confirmed it would not return to Manston Airport, even if the site was to remain open. A spokesperson for the airline said it was ‘game over’ for its operations there as it prepared for its last flight on 9 April 2014. (Link contains video footage). 10 Apr 2014 – The consultation period over the future of a Kent airport has been extended, the Unite union has said. Up to 150 mostly part-time jobs were put at risk last month when loss-making Manston Airport revealed it was in talks over a possible closure. No reason has been given for the extension. 12 Apr 2014 – Newmarket Holidays, a tour operator which runs charter flights to Verona and Naples from Manston Airport, said it would move its Kent departures from Manston to Lydd Airport from June. The company said the change was being made ‘in order to avoid any further uncertainty’.

8 Apr 2014 – Southend Airport in Essex expects to carry two million passengers by 2015 – five years earlier than originally planned. Passenger numbers were 970,000 in 2013 and are predicted to be 1.3 million this year.

8 Apr 2014 – Gatwick Airport has launched its public consultation on proposals for a second runway with what a spokesperson described as ‘the biggest yet’ for one of its exhibitions attending the first date. The consultation on the three options being considered for the 3.4 km second runway opened at The Hawth in Crawley on April 5. The first of 16 public exhibitions planned for the six-week consultation ran from 11am to 3.30pm. In that time, more than 800 people attended the event to view the display boards and to question the teams on hand from Gatwick and the Airports Commission. The issue has already led to debate on both sides with the Gatwick Diamond Business forum among supporting expansion, and the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) among those against. GACC members were present at the first date of the public consultation, standing outside and handing out their own information.

8 Apr 2014 – An inquiry into plans for a business park scheme on greenbelt land near Coventry Airport is under way. The developers say the £250m Coventry Gateway, which will include offices, industrial units and a hotel, will eventually create 14,000 jobs. But the scheme, sited north and south of the airport, attracted objections when it was approved by Coventry City and Warwick District Councils. The inquiry at Leamington Town Hall is expected to last 16 days.

9 Apr 2014 – Rail operator Abellio Greater Anglia is working on improvements to Stansted Railway station by improving the levels of lighting to brighten the platforms and waiting areas, which do not currently benefit from natural light. 250 new lights, fitted with energy efficient LED bulbs, are being fitted to every column in the station to increase the amount of light. Along the central columns, blue-coloured LED lights are also being installed in an attempt to create a more attractive and welcoming atmosphere. The work, which is expected to continue until the end of April, is being carried out by Spence Ltd on behalf of Abellio Greater Anglia.

10 Apr 2014 – Cathay Pacific Airways has announced the launch of a four-times-weekly service between Manchester and Hong Kong starting from 8 December 2014.

10 Apr 2014 – Three judges have dismissed Dunsfold Park Ltd’s appeal against a High Court ruling rejecting its claims that both Waverley Borough Council and a planning inspector were wrong to refuse it a certificate of lawful use officially recognising that use of the site for planes should be unrestricted. The aerodrome owners had claimed that a ‘permanent unrestricted planning permission’ was granted in 1951 that remained in force and still allowed for unlimited aviation use of the site. They maintained that permissions secured since they acquired the site had not been implemented and so had not created a new planning chapter limiting aviation use. But, dismissing their claims, Lord Justice Sullivan found that the 1951 permission for ‘flight testing’ did not amount to consent for unrestricted flying of aircraft there.

10 Apr 2014 – Birmingham Airport have announced that it will commence a six month airspace change trial starting on the 1 May 2014 to support its existing Airspace Change Process. The Airspace Change Process will lead to a new departure flight path to the south of the Airport as a result of the runway extension development. It is anticipated that the trial will provide information to inform the impact of two flight paths. The trial will commence on 1 May by operating the two flight path options over a six month period. Each route will operate monthly, alternating on the first day of each month. This will allow the Airport to gather three months data for each option.

The Airport will assess the noise impact, track-keeping performance and operational impact of each route. The Airport has also made a commitment to reduce its noise preferential routes from 3km to 2km as it is assumed that aircraft will fly more precisely using RNAV1 technology. The trial will allow the Airport to assess this.

This trial is part of Birmingham Airport’s current Airspace Change application to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will allow area navigation procedures to be tested to assess their impact and provide insight to help make a more informed decision on the most appropriate option. After considering two viable options in detail, the Airport submitted a preferred route, to the CAA in August this year. Following the submission of the preferred route to the CAA, Birmingham Airport continued to receive high levels of feedback from the local community and was advised that other UK airports have been undertaking trials of flight paths. This trial is part of the existing Airspace Change application to the CAA and is not a further consultation.

11 Apr 2014 – For the next seven months most of Heathrow’s night flights will land on the southern runway while the northern landing strip is being resurfaced. This means residents living under the southern runway flight path are now experiencing more aircraft noise than usual between 4.30am and 6am. The project is expected to last until the end of October 2014. The southern flight path cuts across Battersea, Wandsworth Town and Putney.

11 Apr 2014 – Newcastle International Airport, UK, has announced the next phase of development of its departure lounge, with a total investment of over £14 million. The departure lounge is being changed in order to provide a more straightforward journey for customers. It will also offer new shops, restaurants, cafes and bar areas, the departure lounge layout. The next major phase will begin in Autumn 2014, with most work expected to be completed by May 2015.

13 Apr 2014 – Pakistan International Airlines are reported to be pulling out of Leeds Bradford Airport, leaving the area without any direct flights to South East Asia. The airline, which has reported from financial problems in recent years, has said they are considering suspending flights to Islamabad after May 15.


Industry News

7 Apr 2014 – The airline operator Ryanair has begun its new partnership with Travelport, a distribution services and e-commerce provider for the global travel industry. The partnership now allows Travelport-connected agents worldwide access to Ryanair’s fares and comprehensive route network.

8 Apr 2014 – A partnership of between the professional services firm WSP and the construction management organisation, Parsons Brinckerhoff, has been appointed by the Department for Transport to examine options for improving connectivity to Leeds Bradford International Airport (LBIA). The team will be studying potential interventions that would substantially improve the connectivity of LBIA to surrounding areas. The study will take account of the aspiration of the airport to grow and will identify the surface-access improvements needed, including highway, public transport and other sustainable modes.

9 Apr 2014 – A new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) argues the case for closing London’s City Airport and redeveloping the site to create jobs, grow local business and build new homes. It asserts that the airport:

  • creates little added value Despite occupying 500,000 square metres at the heart of London, its direct contribution to the UK economy in 2011 was £110m – less than a fifth of the nearby ExCeL Exhibition and Conference Centre.
  • costs jobs in the area the airport has never delivered on initial jobs promises and its safety crash zone limits business development across a 3 mile radius. The extra 1500 jobs from current plans to expand City Airport compare with the 9,000 jobs expected to result from the nearby Silvertown Quays development.
  • places all of the costs on local residents but does not allow them to collect any of the benefits the average salary of a London City Airport passenger is over £90,000, while 40 per cent of Newham residents earn less than £20,000. Eighteen thousand nearby residents suffer high levels of noise pollution and poor air quality.
  • is no longer needed by the London transport network City Airport’s passengers account for just 2.4 per cent of London’s total flight demand, and its numbers could be readily absorbed by Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. By 2019 Crossrail will allow City workers to reach Heathrow in just 30 minutes.

The report concludes that that need to cut noise, pollution and carbon emissions and tackle economic and social inequalities demands urgent reform of how aviation is managed in the UKs cities. This study from NEF argues that London City Airport as an unproductive use of precious inner city land and calls for it to be closed at the soonest opportunity. 10 Apr 2014 – London City Airport has responded to a report arguing that the airport should be closed and the site redeveloped. A spokeswoman for the airport said it provided London’s ‘only direct route to the capital’s business, financial and political centres, facilitating inward investment and economic growth’. She added closing the airport would put 2,000 people out of work, prevent the creation of a further 1,500 jobs by 2023 and remove £750m a year from the economy.

11 Apr 2014 – Ireland has stopped its air travel tax in order to take advantage of high rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the UK, the Irish Transport Minister revealed. Transport minister Leo Varadkar told the Capa (Centre for Aviation) Airlines in Transition conference outside Dublin that, ‘APD in Britain is very high and we saw it potentially added to our advantage … we could have people fly through our hubs if air tax was zero. We intend Ireland to have the most-favourable tax regime for aviation’.


European News

9 Apr 2014 – The European Commission has found that three schemes aimed at providing ‘start-up’ aid to airports and airlines do not breach European Union state aid rules. The schemes are:

10 Apr 2014 – Transport Members of the European Parliament have supported an agreement on noise-related operating restrictions at airports within the European Union. Under the agreement noise-related operating restrictions at European Union airports will continue to be set by regional and national authorities, but it is expected that people living near airports will be better informed, with noise-related health problems being given more consideration. Parliament as a whole will now vote on the deal at the April 11 plenary session.


Parliamentary News

3 Apr 2014 – The All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group heard that the development of Old Oak Common railway station would have a ‘huge impact’ on the HS2 project. The meeting of the Group in the Palace of Westminster heard from the Chair of the High Speed 2 (HS2) Rail project, Sir David Higgins. The event was chaired by Mr Martin Vickers, (Conservative, Cleethorpes).

Opening his remarks, Sir David said that the ‘HS2 Plus’ review should be able to stand up to scrutiny in the run-up to the General Election. He said the timetable to deliver Phase One by the end of 2016 was tight, noting that it was important to make tough decisions to deliver value for money. Sir David singled out the decision over the Old Oak Common site as one of the most important matters, particularly given the role of Heathrow connections and Crossrail.

‘Old Oak Common has a huge impact on everything else’, he said, noting that the decision was a matter for the Department for Transport (DfT).’

Sir David said rail services needed to be relocated out of Euston station, both temporarily and permanently, before any redevelopment could go ahead. He added that the redevelopment of Euston was connected to the development of Old Oak Common.

Sir David pledged to examine alternative options for a HS1-HS2 connection. He said it was logical to build an extension to Crewe, given the station’s history as a rail hub.

Moving onto Phase Two, Sir David emphasised that HS2 was all about connectivity and proving the benefits to all cities not directly along the route from improve connections and regeneration. He said an integrated transport platform would ensure that all parties benefited, emphasising the importance of dealing with entire regions, such as the Midlands, in selling the benefits of the project.

Questions and Answers

Mr Jeremy Lefroy, (Conservative, Stafford) noted that Stoke on Trent had made a case to be developed as a rail hub instead of Crewe, noting that the former was a larger settlement.

Mr Jeremy Lefroy, (Conservative Party, Stafford) inquired as to what steps would be taken to mitigate the environmental impact on the route north of Birmingham, suggesting more tunnelling.

In reply, Sir David said that the DfT would be consulting on the proposal for Stoke versus that for Crewe as a high speed hub. Sir David said no changes had been recommended for environmental mitigation on the southern route, noting that work on the northern route would be undertaken in the coming months.

Conservative peer Lord Freeman asked why the current HS1-HS2 link should be dropped.

Responding, Sir David said that the current proposal reduced capacity and would disrupt the rapidly-growing north London commuter lines. He said that the intention had been for Old Oak Common to be an international rail hub, but noted that the public wanted frequency of service from St Pancras instead. Sir David noted plans to develop a new garden city at Ebbsfleet alongside the high speed rail connections there.

Mr Barry Sheerman, (Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield) claimed that HS2 would not open up the regions, believing that it would mostly benefit London. He suggested that local referenda could take place in cities along the route over whether the project should go ahead.

In reply, Sir David said there was £80bn of planned transport infrastructure investment in London, including the Jubilee Line extension and Crossrail 2. He said that the north had suffered from a lack of jobs, believing it was important to reverse the trend of jobs moving southwards towards London.

Sir David said the current service to Manchester took two hours and ten minutes at the moment and was not reliable. He believed that businesses would choose to relocate northwards if they had access to fast, modern, reliable transport connections.

Pressed by Mr Sheerman, Sir David said that any investment of HS2’s Phase Two budget in improving either the East or West Coast Main Lines would not address the long-term problem of aging infrastructure.

Labour peer Lord Berkley asked if immigration and security concerns should be addressed to gain the full benefits of high speed rail.

Responding, Sir David agreed that the problem needed to be addressed.

Asked if countries which had built high speed rail were now getting rid of it, Sir David said both the US and Spain were embarking on ambitious projects of their own. He also noted the recent difficulties rail infrastructure had encountered during the winter storms, saying that it would cost Network Rail billions of pounds to maintain the status quo.

Mr Andrew Jones (Conservative, Harrogate and Knaresborough) asked if HS2 should be more ambitious in its plans for the north.

Responding, Sir David said there were no plans to improve east-west rail connections in the north, such as the TransPennine line. He said there needed to be a more ambitious plan for east-west connections.

Jeremy Lefroy (Conservative, Stafford) asked if a business plan should be set out for the legacy West Coast Main Line, if HS2 went ahead. He speculated that it could result in the loss of the line as a viable alternative.

Responding, Sir David said HS2 would deliver a huge step change with potentially 18 train paths an hour, compared to 11 on the West Coast Main Line. He said there would be greater numbers of inter-city commuter services, from example from Birmingham to Milton Keynes. Sir David felt that a viable solution for the West Coast Main Line could be developed.

Mr Stephen McCabe (Labour, Birmingham Selly Oak) asked what the main cases being made against HS2 were. He claimed to have surveyed 5,000 of his constituents, with 20 per cent of respondents feeling they did not have enough information about the project.

In reply, Sir David reminded MPs that the London Olympics had not enjoyed public support until a few years before they took place, noting there was often scepticism about large-scale projects. He said that the report of the HS2 Growth Taskforce had dealt with questions of local engagement and selling the benefits. Sir David said it was difficult to tell if business cases could ever capture the true benefit of any infrastructure project.

The meeting was then opened up to questions from the floor.

Questioned on the logistics of the removal of construction, Sir David noted that Crossrail had used the material to create an artificial island in the Thames Estuary for birds. HS2 Ltd would examine its own handling as it recruited further staff, he said.

Addressing concerns about the project budget, Sir David said it was not easy to find savings at the early stage, and added that these choices could only be made once the tough decisions had been taken.

DeHavilland asked what lessons could be learned to ensure the smooth passage of the Hybrid Bills through Parliament. In reply, Sir David noted that bipartisan support was need for the Hybrid Bill to pass, in addition to a clear understanding of the benefits on the part of the public. He acknowledged that it would take multiple Parliaments to pass the Bill. He said it was not possible to build one’s way out of the London housing crisis, noting that demand fell behind by 70,000 homes a year, and pointing to the importance of rebalancing the economy.

Labour peer Lord Harris of Haringey asked what steps could be taken to improve connectivity between northern cities.

Responding, Sir David said it was up to politicians to identify the savings from the project, noting that there was a complicated history of delivering infrastructure in the UK. He said it was important to demonstrate to the Hybrid Bill Committee that any concessions made to affected parties would have an impact on the project.

John McGuiness from Direct Rail Services asked how HS2 would help rail services north of Crewe.

In reply, Sir David said it would free up train routes on conventional rail lines, and added that he felt there should be work undertaken north of Preston to allow rail freight to be moved easily. He envisaged that the West Coast Main Line would be a mixture of new and refurbished track.

Tata Steel UK Public Affairs Manager David Ollier asked what the economic benefits of HS2 would be to the UK. Responding, Sir David that said 70 per cent of all money for rail improvement for the next Control Period had already been let, noting that this was an improvement on the previous cycle. He said ten new trains a week were required to meet demand, claiming that the UK had one of the most ambitious rail investment plans in Europe.

Labour peer Lord Berkeley asked if HS2 stations would be integrated with existing railway stations.

In reply, Sir David said that all questions were up for debate, believing that the UK could not afford to have an isolated high speed rail network.

Mr Richard Burden (Labour, Birmingham Northfield) asked if any assessment had been made of cost savings from reducing tunnelling.

Responding, Sir David said it was difficult to remove environmental protection once it had been offered.


4 Apr 2014 – The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework. The inquiry will scrutinise the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework in its first two years. It will look at the impact of the NPPF on three key areas, planning for housing, town centres, and planning for energy infrastructure (excluding energy infrastructure covered by National Policy Statements). Full terms of reference can be found on the inquiry page. Evidence should be submitted by Thursday 8 May via this inquiry’s evidence portal.

The inquiry follows research findings, published by the Committee, that some local planning authorities may be meeting the Government’s planning performance targets despite being ineffective and displaying poor practice. The research also suggests that, although the NPPF has been broadly welcomed, a focus on good practice in local planning authorities is required if its potential is to be realised.

The research was conducted by the Centre for Housing and Planning Research at Cambridge University. It was commissioned by the Committee in December 2013 in order to identify pinch points in the planning system affecting housing and to find out why the effectiveness of the planning system varies so much between otherwise similar local authorities. It focussed on analysing the published data and interviews with planners and with large and small house builders. The main findings included,

  1. Large house builders generally think the NPPF has been a positive change. They are, however, opposed to further changes in policy, calling instead for a focus on good practice.
  2. An adopted local plan and a five year land supply are essential for effective planning. The lack of a local plan makes a local planning authority vulnerable to appeals. In some authorities there is an expectation that applications will go to appeal because elected members do not want to make planning decisions or local ‘nimbyism’ to new development is strong.
  3. There is a whole host of factors that can contribute to delays. This includes consultation with stakeholders, the attitude of some councillors, and a lack of resources and skills. Environmental matters in particular can be a considerable source of delay.
  4. The planning process can be effective when there is a positive culture within local authorities and a pro-development attitude from chief executives, planning officers and elected members.
  5. Planning performance targets do not tell the whole story and can be misleading. Measuring performance by the number of decisions taken within eight or 13 weeks from the start of the formal process masks good and bad performance. The actual time taken to reach a planning consent is not necessarily reflected in the target statistics as in some authorities a lot of time is spent before the formal process begins.
  6. Some local planning authorities engage in poor practice in order to meet planning targets. Some LPAs refuse planning applications and request that developers resubmit the same application solely to meet the target time for a decision.

The author of the report Dr Gemma Burgess said,

‘Our aim was to identify the key pinch points in the planning process that constrain new house building. However, an unexpected finding was that the planning performance targets can create perverse incentives, such as some local authorities refusing an application simply to make a decision within the statutory period. This means that although the data might show that a local authority meets the targets, in reality time is either spent in pre application discussions or on post determination processes, or both, and this time is not reflected in the planning performance data.’

‘Two further problems are elected members rejecting officer recommendations at the last minute and a lack of resources and/or part time staff in planning departments, both of which cause delays. The research also showed that many sources of delay lie beyond the control of the planning system.’

‘However, where local authorities are open for business, welcome development and are focused on providing good customer service, the planning system works well to deliver new homes.’

Chair of the Committee, Mr Clive Betts, (Labour, Sheffield South East) said of the research,

‘The research suggests that Government planning performance targets may be driving perverse behaviour. This is especially worrying as the research also finds that a focus on good practice in local planning authorities is required if the NPPF is to be fully effective.’

‘A number of local authorities are exemplary according to the performance data but described as ‘horrendous’ by those with first-hand experience of working with them. Some are even rejecting planning applications and asking developers to resubmit the same application for no reason other than to meet the target time for a decision.’

‘It is extremely concerning that efficient authorities, which focus on customer service and enabling good development, could be placed in special measures because they miss arbitrary and unsatisfactory targets. On the other hand, poor authorities that game the system are being applauded for meeting those same targets.’

‘The evidence from the research suggests that Government proposals to increase the threshold for designating authorities as underperforming may only make matters worse. I am today sending a copy of our research to Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP, Planning Minister (Conservative Party; Grantham and Stamford).’

‘At a time when we are in desperate need of more houses, effective planning is more important than ever. But it is also essential if our town centres are to become thriving community hubs and if our long term energy needs are to be met in a sustainable way. We welcome evidence about how the National Planning Policy Framework has helped achieve these goals in the two years since its inception.’


8 Apr 2014 – Southend Airport’s newly extended terminal has been opened by the Secretary of State for Transport, Mr. Patrick McLoughlin. The expansion follows a large increase in passenger numbers last year and the recent announcement of new routes to mainland Europe. The new facilities mark the final stage of a 6 year redevelopment by owners Stobart Group. The growing airport handled nearly a million passengers in 2013, up over 50 per cent on those using it in 2012.

Mr McLoughlin said, ‘I am very pleased to have the opportunity to see the redevelopment at Southend Airport first hand. The growth the airport is seeing is fantastic news for the regional economy and passengers alike. This new terminal extension means better facilities for travellers and a boost for the UK’s transport infrastructure’.

Patrick McLoughlin toured the airport with the Chief Executive of Stobart Group Andrew Tinkler and David Lister, Chief Operating Officer of London Southend Airport. He then gave a short speech to guests including local business leaders and residents associations. He welcomed the newly-extended terminal and highlighted the great contribution made by UK airports to the British economy.

 11 Apr 2014 – The House of Commons Transport Committee published its report on the disruption at Gatwick Airport, Christmas Eve 2013. The Transport Select Committee recommended that better contingency planning and preparedness must be put in place by UK airports, and by the airlines that use them, to prevent the kind of chaos that took place at Gatwick Airport on Christmas Eve 2013.

In the early hours of Christmas Eve the basement of the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport flooded, causing some electrical systems to fail. As a result, 72 of the 260 flights due to leave Gatwick on Christmas Eve were cancelled, affecting over 11,000 passengers. Information systems did not operate and toilets were out of order.

Launching a report examining the lessons to be learnt from this experience,Ms. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Select Committee (Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool Riverside) said, ‘Many staff at Gatwick – working for the airport, the airlines, and other operators such as the baggage handlers – worked extremely hard to keep flights operating on Christmas Eve and to look after passengers, but the problems that unfolded were not new and the whole event should be a wake-up call for airports across the UK to improve their operational resilience’. She went on to say that airports should ‘ensure that their contingency planning is good enough to ensure that future disruption will be met with well-drilled arrangements that are familiar to airport operators, airlines, and other contractors, and which put passenger interests first’.

Ms. Elman added that the Committee felt, ‘passengers need accurate and consistent information, must be able to identify who is in charge during periods of disruption, and should have ready access to toilets and drinking water. If our largest airports cannot demonstrate they can look after passengers’ interests in this way then the Civil Aviation Authority must act … passengers must also be promptly reimbursed for the extra costs they face as a consequence of disruption. It was clear from evidence to this inquiry that there is considerable scope for airlines to ensure passengers are far better informed about their rights when flights are delayed or cancelled and how to enforce these rights’.

The Committee welcomed a key conclusion from Gatwick’s own review of the events on Christmas Eve which found the airport should appoint passenger champions at each of its terminals, to focus on passenger welfare. MPs suggest that similar arrangements should also be put in place at other major UK airports. The Committee also recommend that:

  • Airports should develop (in consultation with airlines) much clearer operational protocols and guidance on the threshold conditions that will trigger the cancellation or postponement of flights.
  • Airports should negotiate robust agreements with airlines (which carry formal responsibility for passenger welfare) for reclaiming the costs of looking after passengers during periods of disruption.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority should bring forward proposals by autumn 2014 to improve routine provision of information to passengers about their rights at times of disruption.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority must come back to Parliament with evidence that progress is being made to improve the quality and efficacy of contingency plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick and to ensure these plans are properly tested and widely disseminated.
  • Government should push for amendments to a proposed new EU regulation on passenger compensation to include electronic means of alert and information dissemination.


Government News

4 Apr 2014 – The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced a review of the medical services it provides. The study will look at all aspects of the work of the CAA’s Medical Department to ensure UK pilots and air traffic controllers are receiving the most suitable and efficient service possible. The review will seek the opinions of key stakeholder groups with a full formal public consultation to follow later in the year on any proposals that emerge. The CAA’s Medical Department currently oversees the medical certification process for 16,000 commercial and 30,000 private pilots holding UK issued European Aviation Safety Agency licences as well as the medical certificates for air traffic controllers. The Department offers advice on all medical matters relating to civil aviation; engages with other national regulators on aero medical policy and legislation; and evaluates the latest relevant medical research. It also operates an Aeromedical Centre at the CAA’s Gatwick headquarters to provide initial medical examinations for trainee commercial pilots. Details of the consultation following the completion of the review will be published on the CAA’s website.

9 Apr 2014 – As of 6 April 2014, the CAA took on the responsibility for administering applications from non-UK operators for permission to use foreign registered aircraft to, from or within the UK. This function was previously the Department for Transport’s responsibility and has been transferred to the CAA following consultation with industry.

Any non-UK carrier that wishes to operate commercial air transport services in the UK, or any non-European Economic Area (EEA) operator intending to carry out other aerial work in the UK, must hold a permit authorising them to do so. Transferring responsibility for managing permit applications to the CAA will improve oversight of non-EEA operators and users of foreign registered aircraft; lead to savings for taxpayers as industry will bear the costs of processing applications; and be more efficient for the operators themselves by CAA providing a ‘one stop’ shop for permits and related approvals. A key benefit of the new system will be its increased transparency, which will help facilitate effective competition to the benefit of both consumers and the aviation industry. More information about permits including advice on how to make an application is available here.


House of Commons Questions


Robertson, A – Military Aviation Authority Air Safety Report for 2012-13

7 April 2014

Angus Robertson, Scottish National Party Defence and Foreign Affairs spokesperson (Scottish National Party, Moray): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2014, Official Report, column 39W, on Military Aviation Authority, when the Military Aviation Authority plans to publish its Annual Air Safety Report for 2012-13; and for what reason it has not yet been published.

Mark Francois, Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Conservative, Rayleigh and Wickford): The Director General of the Military Aviation Authority’s Annual Report on Defence Air Safety, for the period July 2012 to August 2013, is now available on the Military Aviation Authority website at:


McDonnell – Air Passenger Duty and Northern Ireland

7 April 2014

Dr Alasdair McDonnell, Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader (Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the effect on the Northern Ireland economy of the Irish Government’s decision to remove airport passenger duty; (2) what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the rate of airport passenger duty on levels of tourism in Northern Ireland.

Nicky Morgan, Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Conservative, Loughborough): The rates of air passenger duty in bands B, C and D for all direct long-haul flights departing from Northern Ireland airports have been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly Government. This recognises Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The Assembly Government has set these rates to zero. Budget 2014 announced reform of air passenger duty with the abolition of bands C and D from 1 April 2015. This will eliminate the two highest rates of air passenger duty charged on connected long-haul flights departing from Northern Ireland, cutting tax for passengers travelling to China, India, South Asia and the Caribbean. The reform tackles the unfairness of the present system of air passenger duty created by the previous Government. Beyond this reform, air passenger duty remains a relatively fair and efficient tax, and continues to make an important contribution to deficit reduction. The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review as part of the ongoing Budget process.


Creagh – Airports that meet the eligibility criteria for the Regional Air Connectivity Fund

8 April 2014

Mary Creagh, Shadow Environment Secretary (Labour, Wakefield): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which airports meet the eligibility criteria for the Regional Air Connectivity Fund; and how much each such airport has been awarded in each of the last 10 years.

Robert Goodwill, Aviation Minister/Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby): The Department for Transport is in detailed discussions with regional councils regarding two air routes that might qualify for support through a public service obligation under financial provisions announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the 2013 spending round last July, to maintain regional air access to London. Of these, Dundee council is currently tendering for an airline to operate a service between Dundee airport and London. The Chancellor announced in this year’s Budget that support will also be made available for start-up aid for new air routes from UK regional airports. European Union aviation state aid guidelines allow for start-up aid to be provided under certain conditions to facilitate development of new routes from member state airports which handle fewer than five million passengers per year. The Department for Transport is working with the Treasury to develop guidance clarifying how the Government will ordinarily expect to interpret the European Union state aid guidelines, and explain how the funding process will operate.


Jackson, S – Improved frequency of Cross Country trains from Peterborough to Stansted Airport

10 April 2014

Stewart Jackson (Conservative, Peterborough): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received on efforts to improve the frequency of services by Cross Country trains between Peterborough and Stansted airport; and if he will make a statement.

Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Conservative, Wimbledon): The Secretary of State for Transport has not received any representations from Cross Country Trains regarding frequency improvements to their services between Peterborough and Stansted airport.


House of Lords Questions


Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe – Civil Aviation Authority and employee share scheme

9 April 2014

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Labour peer): To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, as the major shareholder in National Air Traffic Services, they intend to meet the costs of the employee share scheme if the Civil Aviation Authority confirms their proposal that those costs will no longer be provided for in the next regulatory settlement.

Baroness Kramer, The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Liberal Democrat peer): The regulatory settlement is a matter for the CAA. We would expect the NATS board, in the first instance, to continue to consider the benefits of the employee share scheme and the terms on which it operates.


Media News

4 Apr 2014 – The consultation published by Gatwick Airport today is described by the Campaign Group Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) as ‘plush but bogus’. GACC says that the consultation is ‘plush’ because it says that ‘no expense has been spared’ … ‘in an attempt to make a new Gatwick runway look inevitable’ – and ‘bogus’ because it says the Airports Commission has already ruled out one of the options (Option 1- , the close-parallel runway). Originally Gatwick Airport said that there would be no box for people to tick if they wished to vote for no new runway. However after objections the airport has made a concession providing a box labelled ‘None of the above’.

7 Apr 2014 – Chief Executive of the International Air Transport Association, Mr Tony Tyler has criticised the Government’s recent changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD). On March 19 the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his Budget speech  the reduction of APD to some long haul destinations from April 2015. He confirmed the two highest of the four APD tax bands are to be ended. The reforms mean for example that passengers on long-haul flights to destinations such as India and the Caribbean islands will pay a lower tax rate from 2015. Mr Tyler called the reforms ‘tinkering’ and ‘half-hearted at best’. Mr Tyler went on to say that APD continues to be a ‘drag’ on the economy and the changes are no more than ‘lip service to this fact’.

11 Apr 2014 – A documentary concerned with the running of Edinburgh Airport, entitled ‘Inside Edinburgh Airport’ will begin on the BBC next week.


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The Parliamentary information in this Bulletin is sourced from De Havilland Information Services plc


The House of Commons will be in Easter recess from Friday 11 April  until Monday 28 April 2014 and thereafter from Friday 2 May until Tuesday 6 May 2014.


The House of Lords is in Easter recess from Thursday 10 April until Tuesday 6 May 2014.