Parliamentary Group welcomes Aviation Green Paper, but questions level of ambition

The Government should be “more ambitious” in its proposals for the future of aviation in this country.

And it should ensure airfields are protected from “hostile development.” That is the view of the All-Party Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA), a group of 177 aviation minded Parliamentarians, following the release of the Government’s long awaited Green Paper ‘Aviation 2050; The Future of UK Aviation’.

The Green Paper sets out the Department for Transport’s (DfT) long-term strategy to “develop and secure aviation in the UK to 2050 and beyond”. The strategy states the Government aims to ensure “appropriate” policies are in place to support General Aviation and its contribution to the economy. However, APPG-GA members feel many of the proposals set out for General Aviation in the Green Paper do not go far enough to achieve this aim.

APPG-GA Chair Grant Shapps MP said, “We broadly welcome the inclusion of General Aviation in the new Green Paper as a step in the right direction to securing the future of grassroots aviation.

“The report recognises many of the challenges the important General Aviation industry faces and we are glad to see a renewed commitment from Government. However, we are concerned the Government does not fully appreciate what securing the future of General Aviation will take. As a group, we look forward to responding to the consultation and working with Government to ensure the right measures for General Aviation are put in place.”

Group members stated that while the DfT highlighted a reduction in GA movements since 2013, it failed to recognise the link between this and closing airfields. If the Government recognises GA as “the entry point” into aviation, it must do more to support airfields against hostile developments.

Luke Pollard MP, Chair of the APPG-GA’s Working Group on Airfields said current recommendations fell short of mandating official safeguarding for airfields. “Experience has already proven that unofficial safeguarding is not sufficient to protect General Aviation airfields,” he said. “Our group believes official safeguarding, including a role for the Civil Aviation Authority, should be extended to all licensed airfields.”

The APPG-GA welcomed the proposals by GA Champion Byron Davies that a national strategic network of airfields be recognised by Government as a first step in the process. Mr Shapps said, “a huge amount of great work has been done on consulting the General Aviation community on this proposal and the APPG-GA looks forward to working with our knowledgeable and energetic Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, to take it forwards”.

APPG-GA members also set out concerns the Government did not appreciate the challenge faced by GA through the current system for airspace allocation in the UK. 

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, Chair of the APPG-GA’s Working Group on Airspace said he was, “disappointed that the Green Paper makes no concrete recommendations on improving General Aviation engagement in airspace change proposals” He said the Green Paper also failed to address “the broken airspace change process, which currently has no mechanism to deregulate underutilised controlled airspace, which the Government admits is an issue.” Findings and recommendations from the Lord Kirkhope Inquiry into airspace change are due in the Spring, with parliamentarians promising to legislate to help appropriate airspace change happen.

Mr Shapps went on to add the Green Paper failed to provide enough detail on many other issues important to the GA community. He said, “The Government has pledged to mandate electronic identification for all aircraft in UK airspace but has failed to explain how this will be done,” he said. “The APPG-GA is concerned that requiring a single, one-size-fits-all conspicuity solution will not work for all of Aviation. More must be done to promote interoperability between devices as a long-term solution”.

The consultation period for the Green Paper ends on the 11th April 2019. The APPG-GA urges aviation organisations to respond to the document with their views.

Notes to Editors 

  1. The full ‘Aviation 2050; The Future of UK Aviation’ Green Paper can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/765253/aviation-2050-web.pdf
  2. For further information, please contact APPG-GA Head of Secretariat James Shipp at james.shipp@generalaviationappg.uk or on 0207 219 8497.