Stop Stansted Expansion says majority of night flights are unnecessary and should be phased out
SSE has called for night flights to be progressively phased out at Stansted in order to reduce sleep disturbance for local communities. This is part of SSE’s submission to the Government’s current consultation on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Because of its quiet, rural location, aircraft noise – especially at night – is more intrusive than in noisier, urban areas with higher background noise levels. The adverse economic impacts of night noise have been consistently underestimated. An independent study by consultants CE Delft last year showed that the cost to business of a ban on night flights at Heathrow would be outweighed by savings made through the reduced costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise. SSE believes this would also be the case at Stansted where the vast majority of night flights are not business related and do not need to operate during the night. Stansted is currently allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am – on average, 33 per night. This is more than twice as many as allowed at Heathrow even though Heathrow. The actual number of night flights at Stansted last year was just over 8,000. SSE wants the new cap to be well below this figure.
MAJORITY OF NIGHT FLIGHTS UNNECESSARY, SAYS CAMPAIGN GROUP
23.4.2013 (Stop Stansted Expansion)
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called for night flights to be progressively phased out at Stansted Airport so as to reduce sleep disturbance for local communities.
The call for an end to night flights is part of a 10,000 word submission sent by the campaign group to the Government highlighting the particular disturbance caused by night flights at Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels are generally very low.
The Government is currently re-assessing the need for night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports with a view to introducing new rules and restrictions from October next year.
An independent study carried out last year showed that the cost to business of a ban on night flights at Heathrow would be outweighed by savings made through the reduced costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise. SSE believes this would also be the case at Stansted where the vast majority of night flights are not business related and do not need to operate during the night. A progressive phasing out of night flights would also bring economic benefits.
SSE’s submission also highlights the medical evidence showing that sleep disturbance may well have an effect on cardiovascular health in relation to such conditions as ischaemic heart disease and hypertension.
Another study cited by SSE highlights the adverse impact of night flights on the education of children, showing that sleep disturbance can seriously harm a child’s performance at school.
Martin Peachey, SSE’s noise adviser, commented: “The health issues associated with night flights are well known but there is also an economic downside to night flights. Many of those whose sleep is disturbed by noisy aircraft at night do vitally important jobs for the UK economy and society. The adverse economic impacts have been consistently underestimated and it’s time for the Government to set down a firm timetable for phasing out night flights.”
As part of the Government’s re-assessment of night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, a two-stage consultation is underway. The first stage ended on 22 April and the second stage will take place later this year.
· SSE’s submission to the night flights consultation can be viewed online at: http://www.stopstanstedexpansion.com/night_flights.html
· Stansted is currently allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am – on average, 33 per night. This is more than twice as many as allowed at Heathrow even though Heathrow is four times bigger than Stansted, in terms of flights and passenger numbers. The actual number of night flights at Stansted last year was just over 8,000. SSE wants the new cap to be well below this figure.
· The economic assessment of a Heathrow night flights ban (by CE Delft), referred to above, can be found here.
· SSE’s submission also argues that those living in the vicinity of Stansted and under its flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which should mean a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions on night flights.
· The submission also calls for an immediate ban on aircraft using reverse thrust at night except in emergencies.
SSE Campaign Office
“Our Community – Our Responsibility”
See SSE’s latest Campaign Update at http://www.stopstanstedexpansion.com/update.html
Government Consultation on night flights
The government night flights consultation, for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, which was published in January 2013 and ended on 22nd April 2013, is at http://tinyurl.com/night-flights-consultation
The full SSE response to the consultation is at http://www.stopstanstedexpansion.com/documents/SSE_Response_to_DfT-Night_Flying_Restrictions_Final_website_version.pdf (23 pages)
SSE Response to DfT Consultation – Night Flying Restrictions (April 2013)
The Night Flying Restrictions
Under Section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, the Government sets noise controls at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports. With regard to night noise, the controls include restrictions on the permitted number of flights and the noisiness of the aircraft. The controls are enacted in a statutory instrument known as the “Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports” (‘NFRs’), and these are normally reviewed every five or six years. The current rules came into effect in October 2006 and were intended to run for six years but were extended for a further two years, until October 2014. A summary of the current Night Flying Restrictions can be found here.
The NFRs are administered by the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) who, in January 2013, began a two-stage consultation process to seek views from the aviation industry and local communities to help it decide on the NFRs that should apply with effect from October 2014. The documents for the first stage of this consultationcan be found here. The second stage of the consultation is expected to begin towards the end of 2013.
How limits are set
Night flights are regulated by the Government in two main ways:
1) A limit on the number of flights allowed between 11.30 pm and 6.00 am;
2) An annual noise quota which relates partly to the number of flights and partly to the noisiness of each plane, i.e. the noisier the plane, the fewer planes are allowed, and vice versa.
In addition there are restrictions on the use of the very noisiest aircraft types at night.
Our three main concerns
1) Stansted is presently allowed 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as presently allowed at Heathrow (5,800 p.a.) and far more than either needed or justified. The 12,000 cap was set in 2006 at a time Stansted was still expanding rapidly and it was anticipated that more night flights would be needed. Stansted handled 8,283 night flights in 2012, well below the cap. We believe the Stansted cap should be reduced to 7,500 night flights p.a. from October 2014 and by 500 flights in each subsequent year to bring it down to 5,500 annual night flights by the end of the next 5-year control period (October 2019). In the longer term there should be a total ban on night flights, except in emergencies.
2) When setting limits on the number night flights to be permitted, the DfT defines ‘night’ as the 6½-hour period from 11.30pm to 6.00am, whereas the normal definition of night is the 8-hour period from 11.00pm to 7.00am. This means there are no restrictions on the number of aircraft that can take-off and land during the two ‘shoulder’ periods, from 11.00pm to 11.30pm and from 6.00am to 7.00am, the very times when most people are trying to get to sleep or before they wake up. This is a particular problem at Stansted because Ryanair and Easyjet seek to use their aircraft for as many hours as possible each day, with the result that these early morning and late evening ‘shoulder’ periods at Stansted are subject to very intensive use. We believe that ‘night’ should mean night, i.e. the full 8 hours.
3) Aircraft are presently allowed to use reverse thrust when landing at Stansted at night. This is extremely noisy at the best of times and, in the case of Stansted, with its rural setting and low ambient levels of noise at night, the use of reverse thrust causes major disturbance. We believe there should be an immediate ban on aircraft using reverse thrust at night except in emergencies.
See also the response to the night flights consultation from the London Assembly
See also a briefing from HACAN on the effects of night noise from aircraft on the health of those whose sleep is disturbed.
London Assembly says Heathrow night flights ‘disturb sleep and should stop’
Date added: April 12, 2013
London Assembly Health & Environment Committee has submitted its response to the government consultation on night flights. The Committee, chaired by Murad Qureshi, says they would wish to see night flights stopped altogether, or reduced to an absolute minimum. At the margins “quieter” aircraft cut the disturbance for residents at the edges of the noise footprint so their introduction is of benefit. But modern ‘quieter’ aircraft are still loud enough to wake people & do so regularly after 4.30am, so their number should be reduced. The Committee says Heathrow should adopt a 59 dB Lden threshold for determining areas eligible for insulation, not the current 69 dB Leq or proposed 63 dB Lden. If night flights do continue, an easterly preference at night would help achieve more of a 50/50 split between directions, as at present more come into land from the east over London. Some night flights are because planes are delayed etc so the Committee suggests a reduction in Heathrow daytime number of ATMs would help, so flights do not have to be accommodated at night. They want Heathrow to work towards WHO guidelines; the objective should be to reduce the area within Heathrow’s 40dB night noise contour.
Possibility of more night flights to Heathrow over Windsor rather than West London
Date added: March 11, 2013
Plans drawn up by the DfT could see hundreds of night flights diverted away from the homes of 110,000 residents of the west London areas like Richmond, Kew and Hounslow, over the Windsor area. There could be an extra 1,500 – 1,700 night flights per year over Windsor, starting at 4am. About 90% of the flights at night are between 4.30am and 6.00am, waking people up and making it difficult to many to get back to sleep. The local MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, is concerned on the negative impact the change would have on the quality of life of his constituents. The Queen often spends weekends at Windsor, and also many weeks during the year. Under existing rules Heathrow is allowed 5,256 incoming scheduled night flights a year, so Londoners have to put up with around 16 planes overhead every night. Due to the wind direction, about 72% of the time they come from the east over London. The DfT is now considering ordering pilots to approach from the west unless a tailwind of five knots or more makes this impractical. This is part of the current night flights consultation, which closes on 22nd April.
Heathrow night flights are “inhumane” and the airport is urged to stop them
Date added: March 7, 2013
There is pressure on the management of Heathrow to justify the use of night flights. This has been discussed at the London Assembly’s environment committee. There are some 15 flights that land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am every day and which activists say have an impact on 100,000 West Londoners. For many people the first plane coming in at 4.30am is their alarm clock. As well as campaigners against Heathrow’s expansion, senior local council executives say the flights are “inhuman” and there is an economic cost to sleep deprivation. Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said “even a quiet airplane is very noisy. It will wake you up when it’s still dark, you might get back to sleep, you might not.” “I’d say it’s the equivalent of a lorry coming and revving its engine just outside your bedroom window several times a night,” Heathrow say night flights boost the economy by £340m a year and by 6,600 jobs (evidence for that?)
Sleep deprivation causes adverse effects on health due to disruption of gene activity
Date added: March 5, 2013
Sleep scientists at the University of Surrey have found that sleep deprivation affects hundreds of genes involved with inflammation, immunity and cells’ response to stress. This might help explain why some people who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cognitive impairment. Researchers took whole-blood RNA samples from 26 participants after they had spent a week sleeping 8.5 hours a night, and the same participants after a week of sleeping for just 5.7 hours. That amount of sleep is not unusual for many people, and an estimate from the USA is that perhaps 30% of American adults sleep for under 6 hours. (The study did not look at sleep disturbance, as is the case for aircraft noise). The study found genes related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress were all affected by the experiment. Some were more active, and some less, during sleep deprivation. Other studies have found lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and type II diabetes. It can affect blood sugar levels, and hormones that control appetite. There are also effects on hypertension, elevated risk of stroke and of heart disease.
Bed protest. Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire residents call for a cut in Luton airport night flights
Date added: February 19, 2013
A group of protestors arrived at Luton Borough Council on 15th February to deliver a bed signed by people who are fed up with night noise from Luton Airport. The BANN (Beds Against Night Noise) protest was given good media coverage and made the point that it’s not only Hertfordshire which suffers noise and disturbance – plenty of residents in Bedfordshire are also woken up by late night arrivals, cargo planes and early morning departures. One of the protesters said the PR spin in Luton airport’s Master Plan claimed they would ”consult” the public, and they were taking noise seriously by adding 6 new noise mitigations. However, those so-called mitigations would only affect a fraction of 1% of the total flights – and Luton plans to double night flights between 10pm and midnight and start the morning departure rush at 5am, which is utterly unacceptable. Local people are now demanding that there is legislation to control night flights at Luton in the same way as at other London airports. There is currently a petition to significantly reduce night flights at Luton, not increase them.
Luton airport planning application would increase night flights (11pm to 7am) by 50%
Date added: January 29, 2013
Local campaign group HALE (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion) says that Luton Airport’s expansion plans are based on projections to increase flights at night by 50%. This is based on information in the airport’s planning application which shows that the number of take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am is projected to rise to 52 by 2028, compared to 34 in 2011. HALE points out that this is just the average figure – during the summer peak there could be as many as 80 flights each night. There is a public consultation on the application until 18th February. HALE is urging people to respond to this planning application by demanding that Luton Borough Council forces its Airport to reduce, not increase, night flights; to monitor and fine night arrivals as well as night departures; and to install a noise monitor on the approach to runway 08 for the purpose.