Find more information on aviation and the environment:
The CAA's role on the environment
Aviation activity has always had an impact on the environment: both globally through contribution to climate change and locally through effects on noise and air quality. The CAA encourages the industry to lead on these challenges, but has an important role to play in specific areas. Our roles and duties are summarised below and, in more details, in our Environmental Sustainability Strategy. An overview of the roles of other organisations is available on our Environmental stakeholders page.
The CAA has four key roles around aviation noise:
- Deciding whether or not the design of contracted airspace can be changed, in accordance with government, law and noise policy. Detailed information is available on our airspace change pages.
- Monitoring noise around UK airports and publishing information about noise levels and impacts. We do this for a range of customers including the UK Government, airport operators, airspace change proposers and local authorities.
- Collaborating on and reviewing research into the effects of noise and how they can be reduced, and offering advice to Government on these effects.
- Aircraft noise certification.
Complaints about aircraft noise
The CAA is tasked by government to provide a focal point for aviation-related environmental enquiries and complaints. You can lodge a complaint about aviation noise to the CAA via an electronic form. The details you provide will be logged in our complaints and enquiries database and, where appropriate, will be referred to the relevant airport, air traffic control provider or to the Secretary of State. More information is available on how to complain about aircraft noise.
Complaints about noise generated by aircraft flying to or from a specific airport should be directed to the airport concerned. They will be best placed to provide information on their operations and may be able to take action if the aircraft is flying in breach of their noise abatement procedures.
The CAA follows government policy and guidance on carbon emissions and air quality in making decisions about airspace change. It has a role in advising the government on the reduction of the industry's carbon emissions, the sharing of best practice, and the development of international initiatives such as emissions trading which is designed to address climate change.
Outside the aviation sector, the CAA also has an impact on the planning of wind power generation in the UK.
The CAA's role on air quality is secondary to that of the government and local authorities, who are statutorily empowered to engage on air quality issues.
Where appropriate, the CAA gives consideration to air quality when making other regulatory decisions - particularly when establishing best practice for operators and when helping to influence new technology standards.
The CAA, as a public authority, also has a duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to conserve and protect biodiversity.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) environmental sustainability strategy
In May 2022 the CAA published its Environmental Sustainability Strategy that sets out how it will work with the whole aviation system, both domestically and globally, to address environmental performance in aviation.
The Strategy explains the CAA will focus its expertise and leadership in the following areas:
- enabling development of Jet Zero technology;
- co-leading the modernisation of airspace;
- reporting on the sustainability performance of industry, including noise, and providing information to consumers on the environmental impact of aviation;
- advising and supporting the UK government on domestic and international policy;
- reducing the impact of our corporate activities and operations;
- assessing local environmental impacts in relevant regulatory activity and monitoring how industry is adapting to climate change;
- taking into account the environment in regulation and oversight.
The Strategy provides our colleagues, stakeholders, and those we regulate with clarity on our roles, remit and ambition and it explains what we plan to deliver in the short and medium term, setting our vision within the long-term nature of climate change and the government and industry’s evolving approaches.