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ACI NEWS Last modified on July 30, 2018

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ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, reflects on how land use planning is a shared responsibility.

The demand for air transportation has proven to be resilient under a full range of economic and geopolitical conditions. Indeed, it is forecasted to double by 2030.

As worldwide air traffic grows, so does the need for new airport infrastructure and for optimal use of existing airport infrastructure. Clearly, the airport industry’s continued success over the long-term can’t be achieved without taking into consideration proper infrastructure development and adequate land use planning.

Land use planning in the vicinity of airports is essential to facilitate safe and efficient airport operations.

Last year, the global community of airports convened in Mauritius and acknowledged that appropriate land use planning is a vital concern for airport operators that must always have an eye for the long-term and be mindful that activities and developments nearby airports are compatible with aviation.

The global community of airports recognised that the lack of proper co-ordination and co-operation between governments of jurisdiction and airports in their environs can compromise the safety of the travelling public, the safety and well-being of members of the community and lead to threats to the sustainability of airports.

We also recognise that the disregard by local authorities of the impact on the airport of their zoning regulations and complex consultation procedures can make it difficult for airports to properly co-ordinate with the authorities. Besides safety concerns, land use planning has been an effective mechanism to address noise management by avoiding noise-sensitive developments around airports. In this sense, ACI has strongly urged its members to work with their local communities and authorities to ensure that incompatible land uses are not permitted in areas that are affected by aircraft noise.

ACI and members have also recognised the ICAO Airport Planning Manual, and the ICAO Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management.

For airports, securing land and responsibly maximising the use of their infrastructure while minimising and mitigating environmental impacts is considered a fundamental pillar for the sustainable development of the industry. For governments, the airport is often the primary economic engine of the local economy. Consequently, both airport operators and government have a role to play to ensure the availability and proper usage of land.

That being said, airport accessibility is strategic; therefore, it is also necessary to consider land use planning in order to both improve access to airport facilities and improve traffic conditions around airports for the benefit of their communities and passengers travelling. In particular, ACI encourages airports to take an active role in working with local jurisdictions, permitting authorities and communities to guide incompatible land uses away from the airport environments and encourage compatible land uses that best meet the needs of their communities.

Airport operators and local authorities should continuously co-ordinate regarding land use planning including considerations on urban planning, zoning, airport safety, airport operations, environmental impacts, cultural heritage as well as airport accessibility.

In particular, proposed new buildings, structures and changes of landscaping in the vicinity of aerodromes should be evaluated for their effect on the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations including, but not limited to, aerodynamic, optical, electromagnetic, and obstruction effects and that Obstacle Limitation Surfaces, particularly approach and departure surfaces, should be protected from encroachment by tall buildings by regulation and enforcement action.

Moving forward, ACI:

  • Calls upon States to consider the economic and social benefits of aviation and airports while making decisions that affect land use around airports.
  • Urges airport operators and local authorities to continuously co-ordinate regarding land use planning including considerations on urban planning, zoning, airport safety, airport operations, environmental impacts, cultural heritage and airport accessibility.
  • Urges States to create an effective and easily accessible framework for airport operators to be able to efficiently work with them on land use elements and challenges.
  • Urges all members to work with their local communities and planning authorities to ensure that incompatible land uses such as residential, and other noise-sensitive infrastructure uses are not permitted in noise affected areas.
  • Urges States and airport operators to collaborate to define airport safety zones within their States and keep these airport safety zones free from non-compliant development, and to protect Obstacle Limitation Surfaces from encroachment by development.

Governments need to consider the economic and social benefits of aviation and airports in every stage of the policy development process. ACI will continue to work with its members to ensure compatible long-term land use planning as this will help provide reliable, safe and efficient facilities that serve the needs of passengers and shippers as well as contribute to the social and economic vitality of the communities airports serve.

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