Consultation Hub

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We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

Proposals for a revised airspace change process

We Asked:

The purpose of this consultation was for the CAA to learn your views on some changes we are considering making to our airspace change decision-making process.

Our objective is to ensure that it meets modern standards for regulatory decision-making, and that it is seen as fair, transparent, consistent and proportionate. The process should be impartial and evidence-based, and should take proper account of the needs and interests of all affected stakeholders.

You Said:

We had 110 formal responses to the consultation, which we have published, where we have permission to do so. On the whole, stakeholders were supportive of the proposed new process.

In the ‘closed’ (yes or no) questions we found overwhelming support for the introduction of gateways into the process; engagement on design principles; the options appraisal concept; a single online portal; and the publication of consultation responses online. In addition there was broad support for the publication of airspace change submissions as early as possible, and for the Public Evidence Session.

In the ‘open’ (free text) responses we found there were overwhelmingly positive sentiments about the potential improvements to transparency; engagement (such as the introduction of the design principles stage, although there were also cautions about getting it right in practice) and certainty (such as the introduction of gateways). In addition, there were broadly positive sentiments about the potential improvements to fairness and proportionality (while the majority of sentiments were positive, there were significant numbers raising concern). 

There were however areas of concern or disagreement. Two thirds of those responding, across all categories of respondent, were opposed to responses to an airspace change consultation being made solely through the online portal. We noted some negative sentiments about flexibility and scalability. There were also differences of opinion between stakeholders on certain topics, including independent third-party involvement, appeals, and whether increasing costs were proportionate. We identified and categorised 363 recommendations as to how we could further improve the process.

We Did:

We are maintaining, for the most part, the process proposed by our consultation, but with some modifications. We will now draft revised guidance on the new process, on which we will consult in spring 2017.

Some changes remain dependent on greater policy clarity from the Government, but the main outcomes are:

  • Fourteen-step process based on the existing process, with gateway sign-offs by the CAA to improve certainty
  • Single bespoke website forming an airspace change portal for anyone to view, comment on and access documents for every airspace change proposal, with offline submissions also accepted for the time being
  •  Airspace change sponsor early engagement with stakeholders on design principles
  • Formal options appraisal for each proposal where the sponsor shows how it has assessed the impacts of different designs at three stages in the process, building in detail as the number of options decreases
  • Recommended use by sponsor of an independent third-party facilitator to make early engagement with stakeholders on design principles more effective, and potentially also for formal consultation
  • Publication of airspace change consultation responses online as they are received
  • Categorising airspace change proposals by ‘Level’ according to the scale of the potential noise impact, to keep the process proportionate – including Level M for some military changes
  • Use of a standard template for formal submission of an airspace change proposal
  • Publication of final airspace change proposal on receipt, or as soon as possible thereafter  
  • Public Evidence Session for some changes with greater impact (‘Level 1’) allowing stakeholders to address the CAA decision-maker once a proposal has been submitted
  • Publication of a ‘minded to’ decision for public review for changes on which we believe there could be a risk of misinterpretation or misunderstanding of some of the evidence
  • CAA timescale commitments for gateway sign-offs and final decision
  • No formal appeal against a CAA decision
  • Clearer timescales and objectives for the Post-Implementation Review
  • No Oversight Committee
  • CAA recovery of additional costs through the en-route unit rate from 2020, and until then through a statutory charge on NERL and airports
  • New process implementation date not before August 2017
  • The immediate introduction of two procedural improvements, in the form of an Airspace Change Process Information Pack including a Regulatory Decision Template.

See also:

Proposal to modify NATS’ planning and reporting requirements

We Asked:

Whether NERL should be required to produce detailed technology and airspace programmes for the remainder of RP2 by 31 March 2017 and an outline technology programme and airspace proposals for RP3 by 30 June 2018.

We also asked whether we should have the ability to appoint an Independent Reviewer to review the accuracy of NERL’s reporting on its technology and airspace programmes.

You Said:
You largely supported our proposals, although some of you commented on the detail. Some wanted the proposals amended to remove the ability of us and NERL to bilaterally agree later dates for the programmes and options, and some of you wanted additional requirements on NERL to report on noise and, possibly, air quality as well.
You largely supported our proposal to appoint an independent reviewer. Although one of you did not have enough understanding of the proposal to support it. NERL said it would engage constructively and positively with an Independent Reviewer.
We Did:

We modified NERL’s licence as proposed, but clarified that we would not agree later dates with NERL unless there were compelling reasons for reasons for doing so. In particular, we would not agree to later dates without first taking views from users. We considered that robust reporting on noise was important , but thought that this Licence modification, on the development of and reporting on airspace and technology programmes, was not the appropriate mechanism to introduce noise performance indicators.

We modified the licence to allow us to appoint an Independent Reviewer. As this is the first time that such a role has been envisaged in ATM, we said we would take a proportionate approach as all parties learn how such a role can add value to oversight of capital programme delivery. We said we intended to appoint the Reviewer initially for a one year period.

During the consultation process, we ask for your feedback, you tell us and then we make positive changes. Public participation is key to our work. See what happens with We Asked, You Said, We Did.