The Government published its ‘Progress Report' on the 2003 Future of Air Transport White Paper on 14th December 2006. The document fulfils a commitment made in that white paper to report on progress made in implementing its policies and proposals by the end of 2006.

The Progress Report reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the strategy set out in the White Paper, that is, support for the development of the aviation sector across the UK, predominantly through making the best use of existing capacity, and ensuring where the new capacity is required its provision is in line with the Government’s environmental obligations.

The full report can be found online at the following location:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_control/documents/contentservertemplate/dft_index.hcst?n=17484&l=2

Background: Future of Air Transport White Paper 2003

In December 2003, the Government set out its sustainable long term strategy for the development of air travel out to 2030. It proposed a comprehensive strategy that:

Committed the Government to ensuring that aviation reflects the full costs of its climate change emissions, which will influence the amount of traffic growth that will occur. This is the same approach Sir Nicholas Stern recommended right across the economy;

Put in place tough local environmental conditions for the most environmentally sensitive airport, London Heathrow. Further expansion in flights would not be allowed unless limits on noise and air quality could be met;

Recognised that aviation brings real benefits to the lives of ordinary people and to business. It connects people and places in ways that many people value highly and is also critical for a successful economy. Since publication of The Future of Air Transport White Paper in 2003, the number of passengers using airports has risen by 14 per cent;2

Rejected proposals for new capacity at several airports and at new greenfield locations, and instead promoted making much better use of existing airport capacity. The strategy supported the development of regional airports mostly within existing capacity, as well as the construction of a further runway at Stansted and at Heathrow, and measures to make better use of existing runways at those airports.

Progress Report

The Government has stated that it remains committed to the strategy set out in the White Paper believing that they strike the right balance between economic, social and environmental goals.

The following sections set out the Government’s progress on the proposals and policies set out in the 2003 White Paper.

Global Environment

The Government’s thinking has been heavily influenced by the recent Stern Review on the economics of climate change and put forward the following statements:

The Government is committed to reducing climate change emissions across the economy by 60 per cent by 2050. Domestic aviation is to be included in this commitment.

As in the Stern Review the report agrees that the price of air travel should, over time, reflect its environmental and social impacts.

The Government continues to pursue the inclusion of aviation emissions in the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as soon as practicable, and to do so for all flights departing from EU airports, whatever their destination.

Inclusion of Aviation should not preclude examination of other economic instruments to ensure that aviation reflects it environmental costs.

The Government proposes to consult on the development of a new emissions cost assessment to inform Minister’s decision on major increases in aviation capacity.

The Government aims to bring forward proposals to make it simpler for air passengers to offset the carbon emissions arising from air travel by setting up a Government standard on how such schemes should operate.

The Government will offset its official’s and Minister’s air travel through equivalent investment in renewable energy technologies and energy saving projects.

The 2006 Pre-Budget Report announced that the rates of air passenger duty (APD) would double with effect from 1st February 2007.

Local Environment

Parliament has recently agreed the Civil Aviation Act 2006, which introduces measures to strengthen and clarify airport’s powers to control noise and local air quality. This means that airports will be able to penalise the noisiest and most polluting aircraft.

The Government’s notes the aviation industry’s own progress in addressing the noise of its airline fleet.

The Government notes the master plans developed by many airport operators which provide a basis for ensuring that measures to address noise, air quality, impacts on biodiversity and heritage, and issues of blight are properly considered in consultation with the local community.

Progress since 2003

The Government has set out as its first priority to make the most of existing airports through a process of improvement and modernisation.

Growth and development at regional airports should be supported without the need for new runways.

The report notes that both Edinburgh and Birmingham airports, where new runways were supported, do not expect to build them until some time after 2020.

At Heathrow the Government will be consulting in 2007 on the need for a third runway conditional on noise and air quality limits.

At Stansted, significant progress has been made on the location, layout and operation of a potential second runway. Planning permission from BAA is expected to be sought in 2007.

Progress will be reported again in three to five years’ time.

Progress at specific airports is noted at Annex A.

British Chambers of Commerce Line

Commenting upon the progress report published today concerning the Aviation White Paper David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"Expansion of the UK's aviation capacity is crucial given the ever increasing international nature of business.

“I am glad that the government has not bowed down to the immense pressure being put upon it and recognises the economic imperative of expansion at Stansted and Heathrow.

"The Government published the White Paper in 2003 but at Stansted yet another local authority has held up progress. The Barker Review has recommended the establishment of an independent planning commission to make decisions concerning large scale projects. These proposals should be implemented and a timetable for construction at the airports published as soon as possible."

If you have a view on this please contact timhutchings@hertschamber.com