Certain airports are safeguarded under town and country planning legislation to protect them against development (for example tall buildings) in the surrounding area that may infringe airspace. The process also protects 'technical' sites, such as navigational beacons or radio transmitters, which aid navigation or communications.
Currently, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) carries out the safeguarding process. The government announced last year, however, that it considered it more appropriate for airport operators of safeguarded airports to be responsible for the process. Where a technical site is owned by NATS Ltd, NATS should itself safeguard the
Launching the consultation Mr Ainsworth said: 'The key change we are proposing is that local planning authorities should consult the relevant safeguarded airport or NATS instead of the CAA. This reflects changes in the regulatory relationships
between the CAA and airports, and between the CAA and NATS.
'Under the changes, the CAA would devolve responsibility for compliance to the respective airport management and to NATS, while satisfying itself that comprehensive and effective systems are in place.
'The involvement and local knowledge of airport managements should make it easier to reconcile development proposals with safeguarding needs. This should reduce the scope for disagreement and the time needed to resolve disputes at the formal planning application stage.'
1. The safeguarding system has existed since around the end of the Second World War. It was originally carried out by central government and has been carried out by the CAA since the establishment of the Authority in the early 1970s.
2. Although the safety of aviation is closely involved, the primary purpose of safeguarding is to ensure that certain aerodromes can continue to operate at their existing level of activity and to keep open the possibility that, in the event of planning permission being granted, their level of operations will be able to increase without hindrance.
3. There are currently 39 'aerodromes' (26 in England, one in Wales and twelve in Scotland) and about 150 technical sites in Great Britain which are officially safeguarded. The civil aerodromes to be officially safeguarded have been selected over the years on the basis of their importance to the national air transport system.
4. There are no current plans for significant changes in the list of officially safeguarded civil aerodromes or technical sites.
5. The safeguarding system applies to military as well as civil aerodromes and technical sites, and to military explosives storage areas. No significant changes are proposed in relation to the way these storage areas are safeguarded. The only change proposed is a minor technical one. The Direction will, in future, apply to military explosives storage areas as well as to aerodromes and technical sites.
6. The consultation paper applies to England and Wales and is being issued with the agreement of the National Assembly for Wales. The Scottish Executive will be carrying out a separate consultation on the introduction of similar arrangements in
7. Responses to the consultation are invited by 25 May 2001. Copies of the consultation are available on the DETR website and by calling 020 7944 5413.