A MOVE by the Government to ask airport owners to draw up their own plans for tackling noise pollution has been called a shirking of responsibility.
Pressure group HACAN Clearskies is against any further expansion of Heathrow Airport on the grounds it is already in breach of noise and air quality limits.
Its chairman, John Stewart, has accused the Government of conspiring with airport owner BAA in an attempt to further avoid the strict European Union rules.
The EU requires all member countries to draw up a noise action plan to reduce the impact of airport activities for communities living under or near a flight path.
However, instead of taking the responsibility itself, Mr Stewart says the Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a consultation document asking BAA to produce the action plan.
He said: "This is a cop-out. It is another sham consultation. The Government knows full well that the airports have no intention of taking any measures that will radically reduce the noise suffered by residents."
DEFRA is required to submit its noise actions plans to the European Union by January. The plans are based on the noisiest areas identified by the noise maps which were produced by DEFRA last year.
The noise maps covered airports with 50,000 or more flights per year, plus the noisiest roads and railways. DEFRA has decided to carry out work on the noise action plans for road and rail itself.
Mr Stewart added: "A real reduction for residents would require a ban on night flights and fewer planes using Heathrow during the day. But this Government wants to expand the airport. No wonder it has shirked its responsibility on noise action plans."