We have all shared the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. With international travel severely restricted and passenger numbers down over 99% in the initial phase of the lockdown, this has been a testing year for MAG Manchester Airport, our colleagues, our communities, and the wider aviation industry. Like many other airports, in the UK, the Future Airspace programme at Manchester Airport was effectively paused in 2020. The Government has made it clear that the need for investment to upgrade and modernise the network to address existing constraints, reduce delays for travellers and reduce environmental impacts remains unchanged. We have now restarted the Manchester Airport Future Airspace project and expect that we will deliver our next phase of engagement later in 2021.
Reminder of how far we have come
The airspace process that we, and other airports are following, was introduced in 2017 (and was last amended in March 2021) and is set out in a document called CAP1616 that is published online. On page 18 of CAP1616 the seven-stage, 14 step, process is defined as below:
Manchester Airport issued a ‘Statement of Need’ to the CAA, Step 1A of Stage 1 ‘Define’, in March 2019; the CAA approved, and the change process was started. As part of Step 1B, we produced an information pack on the ‘Design Principles’ and promoted it widely through the community and industry. We also met with elected representatives, held Focus Groups, and provided opportunities to discuss the process, face-to-face, at outreach sessions in August, September, and October 2019. At all sessions and meetings, we encouraged those who were interested to feedback through an online survey on suggested Design Principles.
We evaluated the feedback from Focus Groups and insights from members of the public to produce a set of draft Design Principles that were tested with a further set of Focus Groups. We carefully considered the comments and feedback and produced a set of nine proposed Design Principles. These were sent to the CAA in a report for evaluation. The CAA reviewed our report and proposed Design Principles, and they gave their approval for Manchester Airport to move to Stage 2 of the CAP1616 process. It was at this point that the Manchester Airport Future Airspace programme was paused.
Our next steps
We have now started Stage 2 and appointed airspace designers to develop flight path options. Stage 2, like Stage 1, is not a consultation, but we are keen to provide an opportunity for the community and industry to input into the process and help us to ‘Develop and Assess’. Later in 2021 and again in early 2022 we plan to test the first outputs from our airspace designers with the stakeholders we engaged with during Step 1B of Stage 1. We will seek feedback to ensure that we have developed the envelopes with the Design Principles in mind. We will do this by testing the comprehension of the rationale for designs, and the design envelopes, with our stakeholders.
We need assistance from you
We are at this stage of the airspace change process extending a request for specific assistance from Local Planning Authorities. It is set out by the CAA / Government that the primary environmental effect below 7,000ft (the airspace that is the responsibility of the airspace change sponsor, Manchester Airport) is noise so in conducting our next step of the process we need to not only understand where existing population centres are, but we also need to appreciate where possible new centres of population might be. We therefore need to be able to map all prospective sites of 50+ housing units. The reason for this threshold is that is the metric CAA use (when mapping airport noise contours and calculating populations affected by noise) is in units of 100 houses, but ‘rounding up’ -hence we need to identify all sites of greater than 50 units. We are therefore looking for sites under development, with permission but not yet commenced, allocated in development plans, or identified in Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments with a high likelihood of delivery. Any assistance in identifying such sites will be most welcome and will ensure that Manchester Airport is able to test, as rigorously as possible, the potential effects of any proposed options to change aircraft routing.
Future Airspace Consultation Manager (MAN)
MAG, Olympic House, Manchester, M90 1QX
t: 08000 967 967