Response 41037153

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About you

A. What is your name?

Name (Required)
Paul Donovan

C. Where do you live?

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(Required)
Ticked East of England
East Midlands
West Midlands
North East
North West
Northern Ireland
Scotland
South East
South West
Wales
Yorkshire and the Humber

D. Are you answering this consultation as:

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(Required)
Resident affected by aviation
Airline passenger
Member of the General Aviation community
Member of the commercial aviation industry
Military
Ticked Government and / or other regulators
Representative or national organisation or institute
Elected political representative

E. Are you affiliated with any organisation?

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Yes
Ticked No
Affiliation
Hertfordshire County Council
Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

F. Is there anything else that you would like us to know about you regarding this consultation?

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Officer views only

G. Do you consent for your response to be published?

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(Required)
Ticked Yes, with personal identifying information (name, location, respondent category, organisation, additional information - please note your email address will NOT be published if you choose this option)
Yes, anonymised
No

General observations

1. Considering the draft guidance overall, to what extent does it meet the following criteria?

How would you improve?
General observations
Legibility The County Council appreciates that the purpose of the guidance is to provide greater certainty to all stakeholders on how airspace change is to be managed in the future. The proposals within the document represent a significant step forward in achieving that. However, whilst the guidance may well be readily understood by practitioning stakeholders/interest groups, it may also prove to be quite daunting to the general public and community groups – there are a lot of process issues, complexities about who may or may not be involved and when and considerable detail on technical and other issues. Given that these are probably the key stakeholders with whom there is greatest requirements to improve transparency and engender trust in the process, opportunities should be explored to improve the way in which the guidance can be accessed by those groups – or perhaps more likely the production of a much shorter user friendly version designed specifically for their particular needs and requirements. Transparent and Robust decision-making The County Council appreciates that this consultation exercise is based upon an assumption that the Government puts in place its proposals for decision-making and processes set out in the recent DfT Airspace Change consultation - and that it is not the purpose of this CAA consultation to revisit the issues raised in association with that. It is likely, for example, that respondents to this consultation will find it difficult not to reiterate their concerns relating to the lack of trust of the CAA as a decision-maker and the lack of independent decision-making, the lack of any right to appeal, the perceived lack of independence and powers of ICCAN, and so on. Nevertheless it is important to explore what opportunities there may be on the understanding that the framework within which change process is to be managed is a given – in other words, how can we make what we’ve got work best – including seeking to address some of these trust and trust and transparency concerns. For example: Independent Commission on Aviation Noise Page 17 of the consultation document sets out the role of the Independent Commission for Civil Aviation Noise. Para 52 does include a CAA expectation that change sponsors need to be mindful of ICCAN’s role throughout the process and highlights a number of stages where this will be particularly important – steps 3C, 3D, Stage 4 and Stage 7. To ensure noise issues are seen to be at the core of the process, ICCAN’s involvement should be reiterated as much as possible throughout the Guidance – for example, appearance at and evidence to Public Evidence Sessions within Stage 5 and being involved at the start of proceedings in from Stage 1 onwards (for example, in Stage 1 in identifying the need for an airspace change and defining the design principles). The Guidance might usefully make multiple references to the involvement of ICCAN and in doing so confirm the importance of its role and introduce a measure of independence to the process. Independent Facilitators/Experts in Public Consultation and Engagement The County Council welcomes the various references within the Guidance to the potential benefits of independent facilitators/experts in public consultation and engagement. These potentially have a crucially important role in ensuring all stakeholders are engaged at the right time and in the right way and managing engagement events in a positive and productive way. They can also introduce a degree of independence that can help engender trust in the process. Para 100 makes reference to the potential benefits of these from the outset whereas Appendix 3 only introduces their potential value in stage 3C. Consideration should be given to emphasising (both in the main text and Appendix C) the importance and benefits of such expertise from the beginning and throughout the process. No reference, for example, is made to the potential value of public meetings aided by independent facilitators/experts in public consultation within Stage 6 Implementation, which could be an important way of communicating the decision on the airspace change, setting out the practicalities of implementation, timeframes, what can be expected, requesting feedback, and so on. Decision-making - Independent Scrutiny The County Council welcomes all the attempts made within the consultation to improve transparency and make information as publically available as possible. However, notwithstanding the involvement of ICCAN and potentially also independent facilitators, concerns are likely to remain regarding the lack of independent scrutiny. Other when the SoS has intervened in strategic scale cases, the CAA will remain the decision-maker. The CAA has explained in CAP1465 why it does not consider that the introduction of a decision appeal process as proposed by Helios (in CAP CAP1356) would be appropriate. In the absence of an appeal process the transparency of the decision-making process is even more important as adversely affected individuals and communities, do not have the safety net of seeking a review of decision-making by a body independent of the CAA (other than Judicial Review, which of course only deals with legal flaws, not the principle of any decision). As currently proposed the Public Evidence Sessions appear to simply be an opportunity for stakeholders to summarise their opinions to the CAA and giving the CAA opportunities to ask questions. Consideration should be given to whether the appointment of an independent chair would be appropriate (in much the same way as an Inspector is appointed in the Town and County Planning regime) to, amongst other matters, review all material, identify and publish for consultation the core issues that appear to be raised by the airspace change and in doing so identify a core set of issues/questions that the PES needs to explore and ensure participants focus on these issues, listen to oral representations and ask questions, etc. That person (or persons if necessary) would then report to the CAA with its analysis, conclusions and recommendations. Whilst the decision-making would still rest with CAA in accordance with Government requirements, a more independent approach to the Public Evidence Session (probably best renamed Public Hearing – as recommended by Helios) might go some considerable way to addressing trust and transparency concerns. Environmental Impact assessment (incorporating Health Impact Assessment) The Guidance sets out a range of environmental issues that need to be assessed and a requirement for the CAA to produce an environmental statement when deciding upon an airspace change proposal. Concerns exists amongst some stakeholders regarding the ability of sponsors and the CAA to adequately assess and account for environmental issues/implications in its decision-making – these amount to a question of competence. Just as the Guidance sees a role for independent facilitators and consultation/engagement experts, so too could a role for external environmental assessment/verification be considered at key stages in the airspace change process and decision-making – in much the same way as substantive planning applications are accompanied by environmental impact assessments carried out by an expert specialist independent consultants – with the adequacy of the assessment often verified by similarly qualified EIA reviewers. The introduction of a form of independent scrutiny into the environmental assessment process (both assessment and statement) would go some way to address transparency and trust concerns. Airspace Change Sponsors As the second bullet of paragraph 49 confirms, ‘…..Anyone can sponsor an airspace change proposal – although it is most typically an airport of an air navigation services provider.’ Practically, communities that are adversely affected by aircraft flying flightpaths, or indeed other stakeholders are highly unlikely to be able to bring forward an airspace change proposal as a sponsor. Communities are therefore in the hands of those organisations with whom they have perhaps least trust to listen to their concerns and actively pursue them, including consideration of options for airspace change. Clearly, one would expect airports, ANS providers and the CAA to collectively act responsibly. It may well be outside the scope of this consultation, but consideration should be given to introducing a process whereby the CAA can receive a formal request from anybody, not as a sponsor, for an airspace change – perhaps in the form of a Step 1A Statement of Need. This request would instigate a formal process within which the CAA would engage with the airport/ANP on the merits of the request and respond formally with the outcome of that dialogue. Airport Consultative Committees Airport Consultative Committees are existing ‘structured forums that provide an opportunity for the exchange of information between aerodromes and interested parties’ (Guidelines for Airport Consultative Committee, April 2014. Department for Transport). Airspace change proposals very clearly sit within the scope of matters which would be dealt with at ACCs. References are made within the Guidance to ACCs as consultees (e.g. paras 100, 112, etc), but perhaps there is scope to raise their importance in terms of engagement – not only through the process, but also in terms of expectations that airspace change proposals will have been discussed within the ACC environment considerably in advance of them proceeding to the formal process set out in the Guidance.

Tier 1a: Stages 1 to 7

2. Considering Stage 1 (Define) of the process , to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
Stage 1A Whilst it would be hoped that a change sponsor would have consulted widely before progressing with a Statement of Need, the guidance make no reference to the desirability of prior consultation/awareness raising and requirement for public consultation. In the planning regime, where a planning application is made, there is a general requirement for publicity and notification requirements in different forms (e.g. notices in local newspapers, site notices, etc). In substantive proposals there is also a requirement to undertake prior public consultation before any formal process begins. It does not seem unreasonable to expect an airspace change process to commence with some form of public awareness raising – for example in the press, notifying local community groups and local authorities, etc. Nor does it seem unreasonable to introduce a requirement for the change sponsor to have consulted the ICCAN – the involvement of ICCAN at the very outset of the process could be an important way to try and introduce a degree of independence from the initial stages. Stage 1B The County Council very much supports the engagement of a third party facilitator at the earliest stage of the process and would also support the view that that third party presence would be a valuable asset through the whole change process. Extensive consultation is proposed within Stage 1B but no reference is made within the guidance to the involvement of ICCAN. Again – the involvement of ICCAN in the design principle process will not only presumably help in terms of shaping the principles, it will also introduce another level of independence to the process. See response to Question 1 with regard to the use of independent facilitators/experts in consultation/engagement.

3. Considering Stage 2 (Develop and assess) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
Stage 2A and 2B No reference is made to the potential benefits of an independent facilitator/experts in consultation/engagement within stage 2, particularly in those circumstances where there are likely to be public/stakeholder meetings. Similarly, there is no reference to the involvement of ICCAN. Both parties would help introduce a degree of independence to Stage 2.

4. Considering Stage 3 (Consult) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
No reference to the potential role of ICCAN in Step 3A to ensure consultation material adequately accounts for aviation noise issues. Page 17 refers to a role for ICCAN in Step 3C and Step 3D but Section 3 text does not expand upon expectations of ICCAN. Section 3 is one of the key opportunities for the Guidance to give a clear indication of the importance of the role of ICCAN in reviewing and advising upon options and the concerns of stakeholders.

5. Considering Stage 4 (Update and submit) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
Page 17 refers to a role for ICCAN in Step 4 but Section 4 text does not expand upon expectations of ICCAN.

6. Considering Stage 5 (Decide) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
The County Council’s response to question 1 proposes a rethink of the Public Evidence Session process within Stage 5 – transforming it from a ‘summary of views’ process into one which provides a meaningful wrap-up interrogative stage into the process chair, with an independent chair reporting and making recommendations to the CAA. This approach would have implications for the process. For example, the Hearing Chair’s recommendations would need to be a key element of the decision-making process and the CAA would need to detail in its decision-making whether or not and why it agrees or disagrees with the report. The County Council acknowledges that an interrogative process might require a streamlining of attendance – as it would no longer simply be a forum through which all stakeholders can summarise their views if they choose to. The Hearing would need to bring together a collective of stakeholders that represents the range of views on the proposal to have a genuine structured debate on the proposal (in much the same way, for example, as a Planning Inspector would invite participants to an Examination Hearing in relation to a Local Plan in the Town and Country Planning regime). The County Council’s response to the DfT Airspace Change consultation advised that this Hearing-style approach should certainly be applied to those changes of strategic importance called in by the SoS. However the underlying principle of introducing transparency and independence applies to all Tier 1a changes and so its wider introduction could have considerable benefits.

7. Considering Stage 6 (Implement) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
The Guidance in relation to Stage 6 could useful refer to the value of public meetings aided by independent facilitators/experts in public consultation and engagement – see response to Question 1 regarding the potential value of these throughout the process.

8. Considering Stage 7 (Post-implementation review) of the process, to what extent does the draft guidance on that stage meet the following criteria?

How to improve
Paragraph 258 states that: ‘258 The post-implementation review is not a second consultation on the original proposal, nor does the CAA hold a second Public Evidence Session………’. Whilst the PIR is not a refreshed decision on the original decision there is potentially significant merit in a short focussed PES (of the ‘summary of views’ type proposed within the draft Guidance at Stage 5) being introduced into the process – perhaps discretionary. This would be a substantive opportunity for stakeholders to make their views known to the CAA on the success or otherwise of the airspace change.

Tier 1a: Evidence of engagement

9. At certain stages in the process (starting with the development of design principles at Step 1b) the CAA will look for evidence of a two-way conversation to see that the sponsor has adequately engaged stakeholders. In paragraph C9 the CAA describes the evidence that we will look for as "detail of what sponsors have been told by their audiences; how they responded to this feedback; and how it has affected the proposals they are bringing forward".    Has the CAA adequately detailed what we would expect to see to know that a two-way conversation has taken place?

What else to show two way conversation?
There could be a role for the independent facilitator/experts in consultation and engagement to provide an audit/recommendation to the CAA of consultation arrangements.

Tier 1a:Third-party facilitation

10. At various points in the process (starting with the development of design principles at Step 1b) the CAA suggests that voluntary use of a third-party facilitator could be useful. Should the CAA be more prescriptive as to how and when a facilitator could be used?

Facilitator further detail
See County Council’s response to Question 1: Independent Facilitators/Experts in Public Consultation and Engagement The County Council welcomes the various references within the Guidance to the potential benefits of independent facilitators/experts in public consultation and engagement. These potentially have a crucially important role in ensuring all stakeholders are engaged at the right time and in the right way and managing engagement events in a positive and productive way. They can also introduce a degree of independence that can help engender trust in the process. Para 100 makes reference to the potential benefits of these from the outset whereas Appendix 3 only introduces their potential value in stage 3C. Consideration should be given to emphasising (both in the main text and Appendix C) the importance and benefits of such expertise from the beginning and throughout the process. No reference, for example, is made to the potential value of public meetings aided by independent facilitators/experts in public consultation within Stage 6 Implementation, which could be an important way of communicating the decision on the airspace change, setting out the practicalities of implementation, timeframes, what can be expected, requesting feedback, and so on.

11. Are there any other places in the process at which you feel that a facilitator would be useful?

Facilitator - which places
See County Council’s response to Question 1: Independent Facilitators/Experts in Public Consultation and Engagement The County Council welcomes the various references within the Guidance to the potential benefits of independent facilitators/experts in public consultation and engagement. These potentially have a crucially important role in ensuring all stakeholders are engaged at the right time and in the right way and managing engagement events in a positive and productive way. They can also introduce a degree of independence that can help engender trust in the process. Para 100 makes reference to the potential benefits of these from the outset whereas Appendix 3 only introduces their potential value in stage 3C. Consideration should be given to emphasising (both in the main text and Appendix C) the importance and benefits of such expertise from the beginning and throughout the process. No reference, for example, is made to the potential value of public meetings aided by independent facilitators/experts in public consultation within Stage 6 Implementation, which could be an important way of communicating the decision on the airspace change, setting out the practicalities of implementation, timeframes, what can be expected, requesting feedback, and so on.

Tier 1a: Options appraisal

13. In paragraph E25 and E34 the CAA states that methodologies for the various aspects of the options appraisal should be agreed between the CAA and the sponsor at an early stage in the process, on a case-by-case basis. This provides flexibility for different local circumstances. Does this approach strike the right balance between proportionality and consistency?

OA - explain re proportionality
There does need to be a balance between proportionality and consistency, but the rationale for the proposed methodologies need to be clearly articulated and where possible agreed with stakeholders.

Tier 2: Permanent and planned redistribution

18. The Government proposals talk about a Tier 2 change as one which is likely to alter traffic patterns below 7,000 feet over a populated area and which therefore could have a potential noise impact for those on the ground. The key requirement is that the air navigation service provider must demonstrate that it has assessed the noise impact of the proposed change and engaged with affected communities as appropriate. Which stages of the Tier 1a airspace change process do you think are necessary for a proposal categorised as a Tier 2 change? Please select all those which apply:

Tier 2 reasons
The County Council’s response to the DfT Airspace Change consultation states that if Tier 2 changes potentially have similar impacts to Tier 1 changes then they should be subject to the same change process as Tier 1a.

20. Are there any other comments that you would like to make about the CAA’s potential Tier 2 process?

Tier 2 - other comments
There is no Tier 2 process set out in the consultation upon which to comment – as ‘Annex 2: Tier 2 airspace change’ states: ‘4. The Government‘s proposals set out that they will direct us to devise policy and process relating to Tier 2 changes. However, we are not consulting on draft guidance for Tier 2 changes at the present time. This is because the Government may change its policy proposals in the light of consultation, and this could significantly change the role given to the CAA and how we might then design the associated process. Once the outcome of the Government’s consultation is known, the CAA will consult formally on draft guidance for a Tier 2 airspace change process.’

Tier 3: Other changes to air operations affecting noise impacts

21. To what extent does the draft best practice guidance on Tier 3 changes (other changes that may have a noise impact) meet the following criteria?

How to improve
The DfT Airspace Change consultation states: ‘Tier 3 airspace changes 4.10 There are no formal arrangements currently in place for tier three airspace changes within the Government framework. We are aware of both good practice in this area, and examples of where tier 3 changes have caused issues for communities in terms of the noise they experience. ……………. 4.21 ………………..As part of their ongoing noise management approach, airports should give due consideration to tier 3 airspace changes and whether any mitigations would be appropriate. Any such mitigations must be carefully thought through, and discussed with local communities, to avoid creating additional unintended consequences.’ The County Council appreciates that it cannot be the role of this Guidance to introduce a role for CAA in Tier 3 changes where the Government has (or is about to) decided that it has no/limited role. Given the potential significance of such changes and their impact on communities, providing information to them on why they are being subject to adverse impacts, requiring airports to advance proposals for mitigation and the possible use of a third-party facilitator is entirely appropriate. However, the absence of any regulatory powers (for the CAA or indeed the SoS) to require action (for example, to require consideration of an airspace change or other forms of potential mitigation) is of some concern. The guidance could, perhaps, suggest that airports/ANSPs be required to undertake a form of public consultation on the causes of the impact and measures it has explored with communities and other stakeholder (including ICCAN) of dealing with these. That process could be overseen by the CAA as a ‘critical friend’. Table 4 on p86 states: ‘Over time, as technology has improved, aircraft have become more able to operate along the centrelines of published departure routes. This can mean that swathes of departing aircraft become more concentrated over time along a centreline.’ It is assumed that this reference is not meant to imply that PBN concentration can occur on flightpaths without having been subject to a Tier 1a change process. This would not be acceptable. The County Council’s response to question 1 proposes the consideration of a process which enables anyone (not an airspace change sponsor) to make a formal request to the CAA for an airspace change – perhaps in the form of a Step 1A Statement of Need. This request would instigate a formal process within which the CAA would engage with the airport/ANSP on the merits of the request and respond formally with the outcome of that dialogue.

22. Where industry does not follow the CAA’s guidance in respect of Tier 3 changes, or where there is a clear breakdown of trust between an airport and its stakeholders, is it appropriate for the CAA to publicly draw attention to this?

CAA action on Tier 3 further detail
It is not entirely clear what purpose this would serve other than naming and shaming and airport/ANSP. Paragraph 305 already provides an indication that the CAA will publicly challenge airports and air navigation services to provide clear information to communities. This could usefully be expanded to include reference to publicly challenging airports and ANSPs to explore mitigation measures with communities. There is potentially scope for some form of recognition of the role and importance of Airport Consultative Committees, as if this circumstance were to have arisen, presumably there would have been a fundamental breakdown of relationships at the relevant Committee.

24. In relation to mitigating the impacts of Tier 3 changes, our draft guidance says that the focus should be on exploring the options for mitigating the change through two-way dialogue, because of the local and often incremental nature of Tier 3 changes. Does the guidance need to give more detail?

Tier 3 mitigation - reasons for Q24 answer
See response to Question 21.