These four pillars cover ACNUSA's activities:
1. Enabling debate through knowledge and information
ACNUSA provides stakeholders with a common foundation of sound technical, objective and scientific information, indicators, data and convincing targets. Without this foundation, the conditions for consensus-building dialogue would not be present, and there would be no due consideration for each form of pollution resulting from air traffic.
Noticeable progress has been made in harmonising information and ensuring that it is both transparent and more accessible. In particular, the Authority has initiated a number of studies to yield accurate and recognised information and, thereby, facilitating decision-making on increasingly difficult societal issues such as night flights or the effects of aircraft noise pollution on the local community's health.
Difficulties remain in certain areas, such as the verification of noise measurement systems or certain coordination bodies' working principles. Beyond the essential part it plays in providing information, the Authority has brought back to players' minds the importance of making particular proposals embarking on a process of consensus-building dialogue and active management of environmental issues.
Examples of activities undertaken to restore trust and foster dialogue:
ACNUSA has established trust on the current information, notably through the promotion of harmonised indicators and by making the existing information available to residents. For example, airport managers are now required to provide residential populations with all four of the indicators recommended by ACNUSA: LAmax, LAeq (day, evening and night), Lden and LAeq (aircraft/evening). ACNUSA also verifies the quality of the noise monitoring systems in place.
The Authority is also extremely attentive to disseminating the most transparent and accessible information possible. ACNUSA has called for the development of trajectory visualisation tools. The availability, mostly via the internet, of the visualisation systems is vital.
Due to the lack of precise and reliable information on night flights and noise impacts on health, it was impossible to embark on the constructive, disimpassioned debate with the parties involved. For this reason, the Authority strived, over the past years, to make this information available. It commissioned and funded report to encompass figures and details on night flights across the "ACNUSed' airports (subjected to ACNUSA mandate).
ACNUSA had also set up a working group on which all of the stakeholders were represented, in order to take stock of the situation jointly, at the national level, perform international benchmarking of the restrictions in effect at the main airports and, if possible, to set a five-year target to lower pollution due to night flights.A newly created group now has a similar mission (benchmarking) but this time related to air quality.
ACNUSA also works on the governance of public inquiries and public consultation and encourages public authorities and airport managers to embark into both upstream and continuous consultations of residents, and into more innovative interaction with all of the partners (comparable to sustainable development days, job fairs, etc.) so that resident populations can be more involved in the decisions affecting them.
2. Supporting better management of airport-related pollution
Because residents around the airport are increasingly subjected to noise pollution resulting from air transport and concerned about the impact of noise on their health, the populations residing around the airport are demanding solutions capable of limiting all forms of pollution.
ACNUSA is aware that there is no panacea answer to this growing concern, and – through its opinions – it encourages a holistic approach, addressing all of the factors to manage airport-related pollution better. This is true in the air, through the measures geared towards air navigation (CDOs, etc.) and it is also true on land, with controlled urban management and grants for soundproofing.
This is a gradual approach and one that requires time. It is also an approach that is highly technical and complex given that solutions need to be experimentally tested before being deployed on the ground Continuous Descent approach procedures, an increase in ILS intercept attitude, limits on helicopter traffic in zones with high population density, etc. are just a few of these.
Through the discussions it holds and its recommendations, the Authority has supported and sometimes triggered the environmental advancements seen in the past few years, both in air navigation and on the regulatory front. It has also made managing noise pollution due to night flights, one of its priorities and emphasised that this is a significant issue for the years to come.
3. Preventing and repairing
The Authority has consistently reiterated that better acceptance of air transport will also require strong-willed action from public authorities – an action that recognises the real disturbance undergone by the population fits into the timetables set and preserves the future. Air transport demand has risen relentlessly due to developing exchanges and greater mobility for recreational purposes in particular.
However, the announced expansion of air traffic in the years to come is coming up against the local populations' growing environmental aspirations. In this context, new solutions must be considered in order to better manage urbanisation around airports.
The aim is, in particular, to reconcile the urban renewal needs of certain municipalities and protection for the local populations from airport-related disturbances. It also appears vital that the economic benefits of airport activity have to be equitably shared. To foster acceptance, it is necessary to solve the dilemma that sometimes the municipalities, subjected to pollution from air traffic and to pauperisation phenomena, do not benefit from the economic and fiscal trickle-down effects of airport activity, whilst being also subjected to severe urban planning constraints stemming from the airport proximity. The State cannot find the solution alone, and better governance across airport communities is needed.
Driven by these principles, the Authority continued its efforts to better protect the local population from airport-related disturbances and observed that most of its recommendations had been adopted.
Concerning management of urban development, the Authority continues to advocate full compliance with construction regulations in the zones delineated in the noise exposure plan (Plan d'Exposition au Bruit, PEB), all the while requesting that the current difficulties experienced by certain municipalities would be taken into account. As far as grants for soundproofing are concerned, its action has paved the way for notable progress, but, unfortunately, and due to some funding issues, the grants no longer cover 100% of the costs incurred, only 80%.
4. Administering penalties
The law that created ACNUSA empowers it to adequate undertakings in case of non-compliance with the existing environmental measures adopted by the Ministry in charge of Civil Aviation. ACNUSA is one of the few independent administrative authorities that have the power of sanction, even though it does not hold any regulatory powers and issues only advisory opinions.
This power enables the Authority to issue an administrative fine that may reach €1,500 for individuals and € 40,000 for legal entities. The instances of non-compliance entailing a penalty are defined by restriction orders. Mentioned orders establish permanent or temporary restrictions on the use of certain types of aircraft or certain activities, on special take-off and landing procedures, rules on engine tests and maximum noise and air pollutant emissions levels not to be exceeded.
Fines in 2014:
- 140 airlines;
- 387 decisions for a total amount of 2,342,200 €;
- 97 infringements have not been fined;
- 290 infringements have led to a fine;
- 8077 € was the average fine.