House of Commons Library

Nuisance from helicopters and light aircraft

Published Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This short paper summarises the law in respect of helicopter and light aircraft noise; safety when flying low over built up areas; permitted development for landing sites and routes of complaint if an aircraft breaches those rules.

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MPs are often contacted by constituents who want action taken against noisy and/or low flying aircraft or helicopters. The CAA is the relevant enforcement authority; details on how to make a report are given in section 4 of the paper.

Aircraft noise is generally exempted from the general noise nuisance controls. This is the case, irrespective of whether an airfield in question is small and unlicensed or a major UK airport.

Generally, so long as the Rules of the Air Regulations 2015 are being observed, aircraft are protected from action in respect of trespass or nuisance. The Rules of the Air set out low flying rules in accordance with EU Regulation (EU) 923/2012 on the standardised European rules of the air. All helicopters flying in the London (Heathrow) and London City Control Zones are subject to an Air Traffic Control clearance and visibility minima.

Maximum penalties for a breach of the rules vary depending on the offence from a £2,500 fine to two years’ imprisonment.

Information on other aviation issues including aircraft noise more generally and noise limits for night flights, can be found on the Aviation Topical Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN04059

Author: Louise Butcher

Topic: Aviation

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