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Contents

SASIG 2014/15 Meeting Dates

Regional News

Industry News

European News

Parliamentary News

Government News

House of Commons Questions

House of Commons Statement

Media News

 

SASIG 2014/15 Meeting Date

6 March 2014

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

 

Regional News

15 December 2014 – Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill has visited Luton Airport to see how the airport has been preparing for the winter. The airport is expecting to see over 350,000 passengers over the Christmas period. The minister saw the winter machinery used to clear runways and learnt more about the airport’s winter operations plan. Robert Goodwill said, ‘The government is ensuring all transport modes are prepared for the winter season. Airports are particularly vital during the festive period and I am impressed by Luton Airport’s plans to keep people moving regardless of the weather’. The minister toured the control tower and was shown a number of ways in which the airport is working to improve passenger experience.

16 December 2014 – Work has begun on a £500,000 education centre at Stansted Airport. The Aerozone is being constructed in an old administration building next to the airfield and aims to grow skills in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects in the area.

16 December 2014 – The airline operator Turkish Airlines services between Istanbul and ManchesterAirport will increase from spring 2015. The carrier currently flies twice daily to Manchester. From May 25, an extra four weekly flights will be added, followed by another three services on June 22, making 21 weekly flights, or three daily.

16 December 2014 – The Department for Transport (DfT) has said that it will ‘explore options to move forward’ on a decision for the Manston Airport site, following a meeting chaired by Transport Minister John Hayes. A DfT spokesperson said, ‘Mr Hayes agreed to coordinate work across all of Government to explore options to move forward’.

17 December 2014 – A group of Thanet Councillors staged a ‘walkout’ during a meeting about the future of the closed Manston Airport. The meeting was the first opportunity for councillors to discuss the Council’s Cabinet decision not to pursue the compulsory purchase of the site. The Councillors who walked out of the meeting on Tuesday evening claimed they were not able to discuss the airport and the compulsory purchase issue properly. Leader of the Council Iris Johnston said the remaining councillors approved two key items.

17 December 2014 – Member of Parliament for Reigate Crispin Blunt has written that Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) has refused to appear publically before MPs at the House of Commons to answer questions on their second runway proposal. The Chairman of the Gatwick Coordination Group, Crispin Blunt MP, invited the Airport’s Chief Executive, Stewart Wingate, and its senior management team to appear before the other local MPs on the group in a Select Committee-style hearing in January 2015. However, GAL declined the invitation, claiming that given the Airports Commission’s own public discussion session, and private meetings with MPs, had been held, the company’s directors ‘do not think that a further public meeting is necessary’. Commenting on GAL’s decision, Crispin Blunt said ‘The MPs on the Gatwick Coordination Group collectively represent over half a million people whose lives stands to be affected by the airport’s expansion.

17 December 2014 – The Leader of Thanet council, Councillor Iris Johnston has rejected calls for her to stand down after she admitted making donations to Manston Airport supporters groups. Councillor Johnston said that she had given ‘no more than a maximum of £25’ to the Save Manston Airport group to help meet the costs of hiring halls to hold meetings. Green Party Councillor Ian Driver said that Ms. Johnston should stand aside as Leader because it created the impression that she might be seen to be acting unfairly on a ‘complex and extremely serious issue’.

18 December 2014 – Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield have signed a contract with the travel company TUI which will see the travel firm operating Thomson and First Choice holidays from the airport.

18 December 2014 – Speaking at the Airports Commission Gatwick Airport public evidence session the Member of Parliament for Reigate Crispin Blunt said that a second runway at the site would result in ‘irrevocable disaster’.

19 December 2014 – Southampton Airport have released a statement saying that it will continue to operate as normal after its sale by Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd.

19 December 2014 – Manchester Airports Group and Birmingham-based logistics property specialist Stoford have lodged plans for a 260,000 sq ft logistics unit at the £800m Airport City development. Stoford is working on behalf of an international investor to develop an 11-acre plot at Airport City South, creating a new world-class logistics hub adjacent to the airport’s existing cargo centre and junction 6 of the M56.

19 December 2014 – The Leader of Wandsworth Council Councillor Ravi Govindia has written to the Chair of t he Airports Commission Sir Howard Davies requesting a complete response to issues on aircraft noise, night flights and the viability of Heathrow Airport’s ‘respite’ proposals. A full copy of the letter is available from the link above.

21 December 2014 – Repairs to a barrier on an M11 slip road may cause disruption to drivers during the Christmas period. The works are needed following an accident on the northbound exit slip road at junction 8, the turning for Stansted Airport.

 

Industry News

14 December 2014 – The UK Civil Aviation Authority have released a statement about the airspace disruption which took places on Friday 12 December. The statement reads: ‘Disruption caused by air traffic control in the UK is thankfully rare but when it does occur it can have an enormous impact on passengers. That is why, on behalf of passengers, the CAA must be satisfied that NATS has done everything it can to prevent such failures in the first place and minimise the ensuing disruption without compromising safety. The CAA was concerned that the initial report received from NATS into the last significant failure in December 2013 was insufficiently robust and required NATS to provide much more detailed information on the causes, handling and lessons learnt. This was completed to the CAA’s satisfaction. Some media reports have misrepresented this as the CAA warning NATS of the potential for ‘flight turmoil’. This was not the case. We have asked NATS for an urgent report into the causes and handling of last Friday’s incident and will be factoring this, and our findings, into a review of NATS licence which has already commenced. This review will include an assessment of whether NATS is sufficiently incentivised to deliver the excellent levels of air traffic service that UK passengers have come to expect’.

15 December 2014 – The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and NATS have agreed the establishment of an independent inquiry following the disruption caused by the failure in air traffic management systems on the afternoon of Friday 12 December 2014. The CAA will, in consultation with NATS, appoint an independent chair of the panel which will consist of NATS technical experts, a board member from the CAA and independent experts on information technology, air traffic management and operational resilience. The full terms of reference will be published following consultation with interested parties including airlines and consumer groups but it is expected that the review will cover, as a minimum:

1. The root causes of the incident on Friday

2. NATS’ handling of that incident to minimise disruption without compromising safety

3. Whether the lessons identified in the review of the disruption in December 2013 have been fully embedded and were effective in this most recent incident

4. A review of the levels of resilience and service that should be expected across the air traffic network taking into account relevant international benchmarks

5. Further measures to avoid technology or process failures in this critical national infrastructure and reduce the impact of any unavoidable disruption

15 December 2014 – A report by OAG (formerly Official Airline Guide) states that the global airline industry can be expected to save $7 bn next year due to a 20 per cent drop in jet fuel prices. The OAG trends report has calculated the potential savings from a 5 per cent reduction in the fuel price with carriers such as American Airlines and Emirates likely to make large gains. But the report states that the ‘shadow on the horizon’ is that if these lower oil prices reflect weaker demand in the global economy, air travel demand is set to weaken. The study also identifies the ‘Millennials’ generation as having a big influence on the aviation industry. But it warns that while travel from China is likely to double every 12 years, the outlook for west African countries looks less positive largely due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

17 December 2014 – Gatwick Airport has become the first airport to implement Amadeus’ cloud-based system that will allow it to increase the number of flights and passengers it handles. It is anticipated that the Airport Collaborative Decision Making Portal (A-CDM) will increase capacity at Gatwick to 55 flights per hour, up from 50, and allow for an extra two million passengers on a single runway.

17 December 2014 – Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited has completed the sale of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports to a consortium formed by Macquarie, Ferrovial, and Real Assets.

18 December 2014 – The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are asking for responses to developments on their website and environmental portal. The CAA is in the process of overhauling and refreshing the CAA website which is due for completion in spring 2015. The CAA say that they are aiming to fully launch their new environmental pages on this new system and will be looking to do widespread publicity on its availability at that time. In the meantime, the CAA have created a set of environmental information pages on their existing website for review. The CAA are requesting comments on the following questions:

  • Do the pages contain the information that you would expect to find on a website relating to aviation and its environmental impacts?
  • Where there are gaps in information, can you provide us with a link to the information?
  • Do you have any information that we have not covered and want us to link to?
  • Is any information out of date?  Do you have more current information?
  • Do you think any information is inaccurate or misleading? (you should be aware that we are not validating information)
  • Is there any information that you think is not necessary?
  • Is there any information that is missing? (Although please be aware at this stage we will not be requesting information that is not currently publicly available)
  • Is there any information that you would wish to be presented differently?
  • And anything else that you wish to raise

The CAA are asking for responses on the content as they state that the design and style of the site will change when they move to the new website. Comments are requested by email to environment@caa.co.uk  by Friday 27  February 2015.

19 December 2014 – Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has written to UK airlines calling for them to pass on fuel price savings to consumers by cutting fuel surcharges or reducing ticket prices.

 

European News

9 Dec 2014 – The latest analysis by German climate company atmosfair of the airline industry’s carbon footprint shows the world’s largest airlines decreased their emissions by around one per cent in 2012 compared to the previous year when calculated on a per passenger and per kilometre basis. At the same time, total carbon emissions from the sector increased by around three per cent, driven by a rise in traffic volume of almost five per cent. The atmosfair Airline Index (AAI) 2014 compared the emissions of 193 airlines worldwide to evaluate their CO2 efficiency, and covered 31.2 million flights representing 92% of worldwide air traffic.  With their higher seating densities and load factors, combined with modern aircraft fleets, charter carriers such TUIfly, Monarch and SunExpress achieved the highest rankings, with TAM, KLM and Japan Airlines doing well amongst national scheduled carriers

15 Dec 2014 – With approximatelyt three months to go before aircraft operators are due to report their 2013 and 2014 emissions for flights operated within the European Economic Area (EEA), a significant number of smaller operators and some high-profile airlines have yet to comply with the EU ETS regulations in force for 2012.

17 December 2014 – A report by the European Court of Auditors has found that European Union (EU) funded investments in airports has not generated the expected results and argues it has produced poor value for money. The study said that due to a lack of adequate planning and forecasting, some of the funded airports were situated too close to one another, while some of the construction projects were too big for the numbers of planes and passengers involved. Auditors examined investment projects at 20 airports in Estonia, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain, which received more than €600M of EU money from 2000 to 2013. They found that only half of these airports could show the need for EU-funded investment and funded infrastructure was ‘often underused’, with €38M not being used at all.

 

Parliamentary News

16 December 2014 – The Communities and Local Government Committee have published the report ‘Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework‘. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has now been in operation for two and a half years. It was introduced to simplify the planning system is welcome and the Committee states that it was acknowledged by many witnesses as positive change but ‘needs more time to bed in’. The report further acknowledges that the Government needs to collect more data, before a full assessment can be made of its strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, the report highlights a number of emerging concerns: that the NPPF is not preventing unsustainable development in some places; that inappropriate housing is being imposed upon some communities as a result of speculative planning applications; and that town centres are being given insufficient protection against the threat of out of town development. The Committee concludes that these concerns point to the need to strengthen, rather than withdraw, the NPPF. They suggest a number of changes that should be made both to the NPPF itself and to the way it is applied.

17 December 2014 – The House of Commons Transport Committee held an evidence session on the failure in air traffic management systems on Friday 12 December. During the session, the Transport Committee heard from: Chief Executive, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Richard Deakin; Managing Director Operations, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Martin Rolfe; and Chief Executive, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Andrew Haines. A summary of the session is given below.

UK airspace disruption

Opening the session, Labour Committee Chair Louise Ellman asked if the witnesses wished to make an opening statement. In reply, Mr Deakin apologised to NATS customers, airports and the travelling public for the 45 minutes of disruption to UK airspace on 12 December 2014. He noted that airspace had not been closed, and that NATS had reduced the traffic flow instead. There had been 120 flights cancelled and 500 had been delayed, Mr Deakin said, pointing to the £1.3bn of investment into NATS since privatisation, with hundreds of millions of pounds to come over the next few years. He felt that average delay per flight figures had improved since NATS was privatised, from 120 seconds down to two and half seconds. Pressed by the Chair over the number of passengers affected, he explained that around 10,000 passengers would have been, noting that 1m would typically be travelling through UK airspace on a Friday. There had been an impact at Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick Airports, with minor disruption at City Airport and Gatwick Airport, Mr Rolfe said. Mr Deakin noted that a strike by Italian baggage handlers would have also caused some disruption.

The Chair asked if the lack of capacity at Heathrow Airport had impacted on the delays. In reply, Mr Deakin said that airport capacity had a ‘big bearing on the resilience of the network’ and its ability to cope with disruption. The Chair asked if the inquiry announced by the CAA would be ‘independent’. Responding, Mr Haines said that the CAA had announced the inquiry and would work with NATS to form it. The inquiry chair and the majority of members would be independent, he emphasised. Mr Haines did not believe that the cooperation of NATS represented a conflict of interest, emphasising that the inquiry would be ‘strongly independent’. The CAA had drafted the terms of reference for the inquiry and these would be published later in the day, he said, declaring that there would be ‘complete transparency’ around them.

The Chair asked if the CAA had reviewed its license and enforcement powers. Responding, Mr Haines said that the regulator was undertaking a review and would be recommending changes to the Department for Transport (DfT) to be made through primary legislation in the New Year. He noted that the CAA did not have the power to fine NATS. Mr Haines subsequently emphasised that the inquiry would benefit from the full cooperation and expertise of NATS.

Nature of the system failure

The Chair asked how old the failed system had been. In reply, Mr Rolfe said that the system had dated from the 1990s and had handled over 20m flight plans in its lifespan. NATS used a mixture of old and new systems effectively and was undertaking an upgrade programme across its operations.

Conservative MP Chloe Smith asked if NATS was prepared to deal with the increase of air passenger travel expected before Christmas. NATS had anticipated the rush and was prepared, Mr Rolfe said. Questioned further by Ms Smith, Mr Deakin said that the flow of air traffic had been reduced because the back-up system had not been running at full capacity. He felt it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect that such a complicated system could operate without failure. Ms Smith asked why technology was not represented on NATS board or executive. NATS had a technological review committee as part of its board, whose role it was to oversee the operation of the organisation’s systems, Mr Deakin said. Mr Rolfe said that 800 engineers worked for NATS in maintaining the systems, in addition to system architects and a Chief Information Officer. Mr Deakin conveyed to Ms Smith that NATS had established crisis response centre at Swanwick and an oversight team to manage communications with customers and the media. He affirmed that NATS took steps to ensure that its systems were protected against any cyber-attack.

Operation of the system

Questioned by Labour MP Tom Harris, Mr Deakin emphasised that it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect that NATS systems could operate without a fault or resulting impact on capacity. He said that NATS had not been proud of the system failure, but had been proud of its response. ‘Everything on Friday was not fine’, Mr Deakin said, addressing criticism from Mr Harris that he appeared ‘complacent’ in the evidence he was giving to the Committee.

Mr Harris asked if Mr Deakin expected his performance-related bonus to be cut as a result of the events on Friday. Responding, Mr Deakin explained that the remuneration committee would take any decisions on pay, emphasising that his salary had risen in line with other NATS staff. Challenged by Mr Harris, he reassured the Committee that there would not be a repeat of the same system failure the following year.

Investing in technology

Addressing a query from Conservative MP Jason McCartney over investments in technology, Mr Rolfe explained that NATS assessed the balance of risk in any failure across the estate. He went onto explain that the body was working to update its infrastructure as part of the European Single Sky initiative. NATS had invested around £130m in technology and would invest £570m over the coming years, Mr Deakin said.

Mr McCartney asked where the money to fund compensation for affected passengers would come from. In reply, Mr Haines said that there were express provisions in the Transport Act 2000 that prevented NATS from paying out compensation. Pressed by the Chair, he explained that some of NATS funding had been affected by performance criteria following disruption in December 2013.

Retaining NATS contracts

Conservative MP Karen Lumley asked if NATS was confident that it could retain its contracts following the disruption. Responding, Mr Deakin said that he did not have any problem with competition from other providers, but expressed frustration that the organisation could not compete in foreign markets. Pressed over the deadline for delivering the inquiry report, Mr Haines hoped it would be delivered by the end of March 2015.

Conservative MP Martin Vickers asked if the CAA had made any representations to the DfT on the regulatory framework. DfT knew to expect a representation on ‘normal regulatory tools’ in the New Year, Mr Haines said.

Mr Vickers asked if the confidence of the travelling public would be bolstered by improved powers for the CAA. Responding, Mr Haines stated that many people expected his organisation to intervene in ways that were not at its disposal.

Input from the Government

Labour MP Graham Stringer asked if the CAA and NATS regretted not holding an inquiry over disruption in December 2013. In reply, Mr Haines said that a systematic root and branch review had been undertaken by both bodies, but did not rule out learning further lessons from recent disruption. Queried by Mr Stringer, he said that the inquiry should identify if there were any transferrable lessons from the incident on 12 December. Mr Haines detailed that NATS would be expected to draw significantly on its own resources in order to provide the secretariat and other tools that the inquiry would need.

Mr Stringer asked why Computer Weekly and other experts had warned the Transport Select Committee in 2002 than the IT system at Swanwick was not fit for purpose. Responding, Mr Rolfe said that one or two incidents a year resulted in delays to small airlines, emphasising that these were ‘extremely rare’. He said that 2,000 hardware failures happened a year without affecting the overall performance of the system and did not cause any delays. Mr Rolfe said that software breakdowns were ‘infrequent’ and happened in ‘very small numbers’.

Mr Stringer went on to question NATS over the level interaction with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. ‘The feedback [on NATS’ performance] is generally positive’, Mr Deakin said. Mr Stringer then asked how NATS should seek to measure any delays it caused to flights. In reply, Mr Deakin said the average delay per flight was used across the air traffic management, noting that other metrics were published by NATS.

Profit, investment, equipment and cyber security

The Chair asked if the CAA had informed the DfT over the inadequacy of the regulatory framework. A review had been undertaken following last year’s disruption and recommendations would be made to the DfT in January, Mr Haines said.

The Chair asked if NATS was focused on securing commercial investment. Responding, Mr Rolfe declared that the £175m in improvements would come from non-commercial investment. Mr Haines added that the CAA was ‘not opposed’ to NATS’ commercial arm and did not believe it had taken focus away from the regulated aspect of the organisation. Views of airports and other keys stakeholders had been sought to ascertain the competence of NATS’ response, he explained, noting that many felt it had improved since December 2013.

The Chair asked if Business Secretary Vince Cable had been correct to say that NATS had put ‘profit before investment’. Rejecting this notion, Mr Deakin declared that the organisation had delivered in reducing delays per flight and having a strong safety record. He added that much of NATS’ equipment was kept in place and only changed according to a planned schedule. He sought to address concerns from Mr McCartney over cyber security at NATS, reassuring the Committee that the body took the necessary protective steps. Mr Rolfe added that NATS monitored threats to other crucial pieces of national infrastructure to ensure that it was prepared.

 

Government News

14 December 2014 – The Business Secretary Vince Cable has accused the air services provider NATS of’ ‘skimping on large scale investment’ after a fault led to widespread disruption across UK airports.

16 December 2014 – The Government has published the independent report ‘Air accident monthly bulletin December 2014’. The report is a compilation of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) field investigation reports. A field investigation is an independent investigation in which AAIB investigators collect, record and analyse evidence. The process may include, attending the scene of the accident or serious incident; interviewing witnesses; reviewing documents, procedures and practices; examining aircraft wreckage or components; and analysing recorded data. The investigation, which can take a number of months to complete, will conclude with a published report.

17 December 2014 – Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced in a session of the Treasury Committee that next year’s Budget will take place on Wednesday 18 March 2015.

17 December 2014 – The Government has published a ‘National networks national policy statement’ against which significant infrastructure projects decisions are made.

17 December 2014 – The Airports Commission have published a series of reports under the heading –  ‘Additional airport capacity: strategic fit analysis’. This is a strategic fit analysis of the Airports Commission’s shortlisted options for additional airport capacity. These reports support the strategic fit analysis in the consultation on the Airport Commission’s shortlisted options for additional airport capacity. The Airports Commission’s ‘Forecasts’ report sets out the methodology, assumptions and results of the commission’s forecasting of aviation demand. It includes a description of the various scenarios modelled and the differences between them. The ‘Expanding airport capacity: competition and connectivity’ report was produced by consultants (ITF/SEO). It assesses how airlines could respond across a range of different global scenarios to expanding runway capacity at either Gatwick or Heathrow. It considers the potential connectivity and competition impacts would be generated by such responses. The Airports Commission’s ‘Fit with wider spatial and socio-economic development strategies’ report looks at the context of each expansion option across plans including:

  • local authority and local enterprise partnership strategies
  • national frameworks
  • the London Plan

The individual documents are available from the Airports Commissions site following the links below:

Cover note

Forecasts

Expanding airport capacity: competition and connectivity

Fit with wider spatial and socio-economic development strategies

Impacts of expanding airport capacity on competition and connectivity

19 December 2014 – The Airports Commission have published the reports ‘Additional airport capacity: noise analysis – a noise analysis of the Airports Commission’s shortlisted options for additional airport capacity. These reports support the noise analysis in the consultation on the Airport Commission’s shortlisted options for additional airport capacity. Jacobs Consultancy’s ‘Baseline’ report looks at the expected noise environment over a 60 year period on both a local and national level. It reflects expected developments in traffic growth and technological development against a ‘do minimum’ scenario with no airport expansion. The ‘Local assessment’ considers noise impacts of schemes on the areas surrounding the expanded airport. The ‘National assessment’ examines the national level noise impacts of schemes. It considers both their impacts on traffic at the expanded airport and the expected consequences for traffic at other major UK airports. Large maps included in these documents have been published separately in the ‘Figures’ document. The individual documents are available from the Airports Commissions site following the links below:

Baseline

Local assessment

National assessment

National and local noise assessment addendum

Figures

 

House of Commons Questions

Brady, G – Numbers of families affected by change to Air Passenger Duty

15 December 2014

Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West, Conservative): To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to paragraph 1.214 of the Autumn Statement 2014, what estimate he has made of the annual number of families that will be affected by the removal of Air Passenger Duty from those aged under (a) 12 and (b) 16 each year.

Priti Patel (Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Witham, Conservative): As a result of Budget and Autumn Statement announcements on APD, over ninety-nine per cent of passengers, including many families, will see a freeze or reduction in Air Passenger Duty in 2015-16. Budget 2014 announced a freeze in the rate of Air Passenger Duty for short-haul international and domestic flights for a fourth year running. In addition Budget 2014 reforms Air Passenger Duty with the abolition of bands C and D from 1 April 2015. This cuts tax for passengers travelling to destinations such as Brazil, India, China, South Asia and the Caribbean. Autumn Statement 2014 also announced additional family travel savings through an Air Passenger Duty exemption for children under 12 on economy tickets, with effect from 1 May 2015. From the following year, the Government will abolish economy ticket Air Passenger Duty for children under 16 altogether. This will save a two child family £26 on economy short-haul flights and £142 on economy long-haul flights, plus adds to Budget 2014’s adult fare savings for families flying economy to destinations like the Caribbean and Australia, taking accumulative savings to £170 and £194 respectively.

 

Jarvis, D – Government provision for possible winter travel disruption

15 December 2014

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what financial provision he has made for possible travel disruption caused by winter weather.

Mr Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative): The Department for Transport has undertaken a great deal of work with the transport sector to prepare for this winter season and all key transport operators, including local authorities, train operating companies, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and airports, have contingency plans in place to deal with any winter weather that may be encountered. The Department continues to liaise with salt producers and as in previous years started to monitor salt stock holdings being held across the country. Analysis from a recent stock survey highlights the Highways Agency (HA) and local highway authorities are holding over one million tonnes of road salt. The Government has also retained an emergency salt stockpile of around 400,000 tonnes for this winter season. In addition both the Highways Agency and local highways authorities have winter service vehicles for use on the road network, including 500 vehicles for dealing with any incidents that may occur on the strategic road network. It must, however, be recognised that severe winter weather may cause some disruption to the transport network. If travel is disrupted then we expect operators and highway authorities to do everything they can to keep passengers and road users informed whilst ensuring that the networks resume services as quickly as possible. In respect of what financial provision has been made for possible travel disruption, the Department for Transport monitors its financial position regularly, including considering any risks such as poor weather that could affect its forecast of expenditure, and manages these within the context of its overall budget.

 

Dodds, N – Discussions between the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on the future capacity of London airports.

17 December 2014

Nigel Dodds (Belfast North, Democratic Unionist): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the future capacity of airports in London.

Robert Goodwill: The Coalition Agreement for Government rules out current airport expansion in the South East of England for the life of this Parliament. To ensure our long term connectivity needs can be met, this Government established the independent Airports Commission to identify and recommend to Government options for maintaining this country’s status as an international hub for aviation. Although options for expansion have been shortlisted by the Commission for further examination, its final recommendations are not due to be published until the summer of 2015. The Airports Commission has discussed and is consulting on how airports outside the South East, including Northern Ireland, might be affected by expansion at the shortlisted expansion options. The relevant documents can be found on the Airports Commission website: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/airports-commission. It will be for the Government of the day to fully consider the recommendation of the Airports Commission’s final report. In the meantime the Government has announced a Regional Air Connectivity Fund that can be used to maintain domestic air access to London through the establishment of a Public Service Obligation where there is the probability that an existing service would be lost. The fund was further extended in this year’s Budget to include support for new air routes from airports of fewer than five million airports.

 

House of Commons Statements

17 December 2014 – The Minister of State for Transport John Hayes has made a Written Ministerial Statement the House of Commons on the National Networks National Policy Statement. Mr Hayes said that:‘There is a critical need to improve the national networks to address road congestion and crowding on the railways, to facilitate safe and reliable journeys, and to provide a transport network that is capable of stimulating and supporting economic growth. There is also an equally important need to ensure improvements have minimal impact on the environment, are well designed and improve safety. The ‘National networks national policy statement’ (NPS) sets the policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on applications for development consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects on the road and rail networks and strategic rail freight interchanges. The statement is based on existing government policy and only applies to England. Parliament has already played a valuable role in scrutinising the National Networks NPS. I would like to thank the Transport Select Committee for its report, all those who contributed to the debate in another place, and those who also undertook important scrutiny work on the earlier drafts. I am today taking the opportunity to lay before you the NPS for National Networks in England pursuant to section 9(8) and 5(4) of the Planning Act 2008, and the government’s response to the public consultation on the draft National Networks NPS, which commenced in December 2013 for a period of 12 weeks. Copies of all documents have been made available in the libraries of both houses and I am also publishing these documents on the department’s website, with an updated version of the ‘Appraisal of sustainability’, a ‘Post-adoption statement’ and other supporting documents’.

18 December 2014 – Members of Parliament have heard a statement on the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on the National Planning Policy Framework chaired by Clive Betts.

 

Media News

9 December 2014 – Heathrow Airport have published the results of their Fly Quiet League for quarter 3.

17 December 2014 – The holiday operator Saga has called on the Government to compensate the passengers whose trips were delayed or cancelled due to last the disruption.

19 December 2014 – Owners of the former Manston Airport site Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave are preparing to reveal their plans for the 800-acre site.

21 December 2014 – A report by researchers  at Cranfield and Edinburgh Universities has found that British passengers who live outside the south-east of England and beyond easy reach of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are now more likely to transfer in Amsterdam or Dubai, to avoid the UK’s busiest airports.

 

PDF Icon SASIG Regional&IndustryNews Bulletin 15 December – 21 December

PDF Icon SASIG ParliamentaryNews Bulletin 15 December – 21 December

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