Aircraft noise ombudsman vital as number of runways expand, say MPs


MPs including Caroline Spelman, a former Conservative environment secretary, are calling on the Government to set up an aircraft noise ombudsman.

Nearly 40 MPs are demanding that the Department for Transport publish a timetable setting out when and how it would establish this independent authority, which was recommended in Sir Howard Davies's interim report on airports last year.

They believe an ombudsman is vital to give residents near airports the confidence that their grievances are being properly considered. An early-day motion has been tabled by Labour's David Lammy and is also backed by Tim Yeo, a Tory former shadow environment secretary.

Mrs Spelman, MP for Meriden in the West Midlands, said that trials of flight path changes to Birmingham airport had led constituents who had not previously been exposed to the noise to complain about its impact.

She said that an ombudsman would confirm if such complaints were justified. Should airports offer compensation for increased noise, it "becomes important that there is independence to measure the impact", said Mrs Spelman.

Let Britain Fly, the campaign to expand airport capacity in London and the South-east, is also pushing for a noise commission. Its director, Gavin Hayes, said: "Whether you're for or against expansion, it makes perfect sense to establish an aircraft noise authority. It might be difficult to establish this side of the election, but the Government should at least start the process."