10 key players

1.  The Department for Transport (DFT) is the Government Department responsible for aviation.

The Secretary of State for Transport is in overall charge but usually one of the junior ministers has specific responsibility for aviation. The DfT decides how many flights are allowed to use Heathrow, sets the night flights limit and, in conjunction with the rest of the Cabinet, will have the final say on big decisions like whether or not to build a third runway.

2. DEFRA (the Environment Department) leads on noise and air pollution.

In practice, though, when it comes to aviation the DfT is likely to be the strongest voice on noise, air pollution and climate change policy. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is a semi-independent quango, largely funded by the aviation industry, which advises Government on more technical aviation matters, particularly around safety.

3.  National Air Traffic Control (NATS) is responsible for guiding aircraft when they are in flight and when they are landing and taking off.

Flight paths are their area. But they are just responsible for the day-to-day operations. Policy matters, such as whether flight paths can be concentrated or dispersed, remain with the DfT.

4.  Heathrow Airport owns the airport.

It is a private company which used to be known as BAA.  Before it was privatized in the late 1980s it was called the British Airports Authority. It runs the airport. It also has more contact with the local authorities and the community than other players as the Government has given it the responsibility of dealing with complaints and liaising with local people.

5.  The European Union requires member states to draw up noise maps and noise action plans every 5 years.

It also can agree Directives which are binding on member states. The Air Pollution Directive is the toughest because it sets legal standards which must be met. The Noise Directive does not contain targets so lacks teeth. There was also a specific Airports Directive but in 2012 it was replaced in 2012 by a much weaker system of rules and regulations.

6.  Local authorities, the London Assembly and the Mayor don’t have any power over Heathrow as it has been designated of national importance.

7.  HACAN is the main organisation representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths.

There are local groups in Ealing, Richmond, Teddington and elsewhere. Stop Heathrow Expansion represents residents in the Heathrow villages whose communities were under threat.

8. Environmental organisations, such as the Aviation Environment Federation, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are often involved in Heathrow matters.

9. The No Third Runway Coalition has been set up specifically to oppose the Third Runway – www.no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk

10.  AirportWatch is the national umbrella organisation of airport campaign groups and environmental NGOs –  www.airportwatch.org.uk.

HACAN is a member. We do not seek growth of airports elsewhere. We also work closely with airport campaign groups in the rest of Europe.