In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be published later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. It gives the impression of passing the buck to Sir Howard Davies. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.
The Government is proposing no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. In its long-awaited night flights consultation, published this morning (1), it says that it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015.
The current night flight regime at the country’s three designated airports, Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next five or six years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include the 23.00-23.30 period. Such aircraft are already banned in the rest of the night period (23.30 – 07.00)”.
At present 16 flights are allowed at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am. The first flights lands around 4.30am. There are no scheduled take-offs during this period. Around 65 flights use the airport between 6am and 7am.
John Stewart, chair of HACAN, the campaign group fighting noise on behalf of residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, “Local people hate night flights with a vengeance. There will be huge disappointment that their sleep will continue to disturbed. We will fight for an end to night flights in 2017.”
The consultation on the Government’s proposals lasts until the end of January.
Details of the consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/
The Executive Summary of the noise consultation states:
1.2 Night noise from aircraft can impose significant adverse effects on local communities, including health effects and other next day effects associated with sleep disturbance (including fatigue and sleepiness). The Government has been restricting night flights for many years at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, in order to limit the impact of night noise on local residents. At these airports it is considered appropriate for the Government to take decisions on the right balance between night noise controls and economic benefits, reconciling the local and national strategic interests.
1.2 The current night flying restrictions at the three airports (“the regime”) end in October 2014. A first stage consultation, gathering evidence on options for the next regime, was published on 22 January 20131 and closed on 22 April 2013. We received 828 responses to this, of which 128 came from organisations and the remainder from individual members of the public. We are grateful to all who took the time to respond to this. A high level summary of these responses is set out in Chapter 3. A more detailed summary, along with the Government’s response, is included at annex G.
1.3 This second consultation now sets out our proposals for the next regime.
1.4 Many respondents to our first stage consultation suggested that we should take account of the findings of the Airports Commission before making changes to the night restrictions regime. The Commission’s final report is due to be published in summer 2015, preceded by an interim report at the end of this year.
1.5 We agree that it would be sensible not to make any significant changes to the current regime before the Commission has completed its work and the Government has had time to consider its recommendations. In line with this, we are proposing to set a three year regime to last until October 2017 which will retain the main features of the current regime, in particular the permitted numbers of movements and noise quota at each airport. However some minor changes will be made to restrict the noisiest aircraft.
1.6 These proposals will maintain the current level of protection for local communities, provide stability until decisions have been made about any new airport capacity and ensure that operational capacity at these airports is not affected, thereby allowing
sustainable growth at Gatwick and Stansted back to pre-recession levels.
1.7 Three years is shorter than recent regimes, but by this time, the Government of the day should be in a position to have reviewed the night flying restrictions in the light of these wider decisions. We will of course want to take into account the Commission’s interim
report before making our final decisions on the regime. In particular, should this report contain any recommendations relevant to night flights which the Government wished to consult on making permanent before 2017, we would need to consider whether three years was still appropriate.
1.8 However, although we note the need to maintain the flexibility to respond to proposals from the Airports Commission, we also recognise evidence of the potential health effects of aviation noise, as discussed in Chapter 2. This is one of the factors which the Airports Commission is considering when assessing the options for meeting the UK’s connectivity needs, and we look forward to its conclusions. Whilst the conclusions of recent health studies are broadly consistent with previous studies, the results of these studies will be fully evaluated, and alongside other existing evidence will be used to help inform our policy development and a review of transport appraisal guidance in future. We will consult on this and all other relevant matters when we set out the Government’s proposed response to the Commission’s work.
1.9 We recognise that some people who responded to the first stage consultation wished to see an immediate or phased ban on night flights whilst others were content with the existing system. However, possible changes to night movement limits are something which we believe should be considered in the context of any recommendations from the Airports Commission and decisions on the future operational capacity of these airports. We therefore do not include changes to movement limits within the scope of this consultation. We know that the Commission has received proposals for short and long term options which include both increases and reductions in night flights. The Government will therefore want to consider this further in the context of the Commission’s recommendations.
1.10 Similarly, whilst having regard to the freeze in noise quota limits since 2012, and recognising that there has been unused noise quota during this period, we do not propose to change the noise quota limits in the next three years, as we also wish to await the
outcome of the Airports Commission’s work before deciding on whether any changes are justified.
1.11 We are proposing to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include the 23.00-23.30 period. Such aircraft are already banned in the rest of the night period (23.30 – 07.00). Whilst there are few such movements, this change would prevent
sleep disturbance caused by movements of these noisier aircraft types at that time.
1.12 As required under EU legislation, we are also consulting on environmental objectives which set the context for the proposed restrictions.
1.13 We are also taking this opportunity to clarify and bring up to date the 1999 guidelines which explain the circumstances in which the airports or the Secretary of State might disregard movements from the restrictions. In particular we wish to ensure that the guidelines facilitate possible future trials of operational procedures relevant to
night flights, subject to advance notification of these trials. This would allow, for example, relevant proposals submitted to the Airports Commission to be trialled if the Commission were to recommend them.
1.14 Finally, the consultation discusses possible changes to operational procedures which may be feasible in the period to 2017. As these would normally require a period of trialling, we are not proposing to make any changes mandatory in the next regime.
1.15 Though not only applicable to night flights, we also wish to use this consultation to consult on the location of new noise monitors at Heathrow Airport
Below is the list of questions on the consultation:
Consultation document questions
Q1: Do you agree with our preliminary view as to the new studies on
Q2: Do you have any further views on the costs and benefits, including
health impacts, which we should take into account in our decision?
Q3: Do you agree with the proposed environmental objectives?
Q4: Do you agree that the next regime should last until October 2017?
Q5: Do you have any views on the revised dispensations guidance?
Q6: Do you agree that we should maintain the existing movement and
noise quota limits until October 2017? If not, please set out your
preferred options and reasons – this could include the noise and
economic impact of any alternatives.
Q7: Do you have any comments on our forecasts to October 2017?
Q8: Do you have any views on how the benefits of quieter aircraft can be
shared in future between communities living close to the airport and the
Q9(a): Do you agree with extending the operational ban of QC/8 and
QC/16 aircraft to the entire night period (23:00 – 07:00)?
Q9(b): Do you agree with our assessment of the costs and benefits in
the draft IA?
Q10: Are there any other changes to the regime which we should
Q11: Do you have any further comments on the scope for trialling new
operational procedures which have potential noise reduction benefits in
the period up to 2017?
Q12: Are there any other matters you think this consultation should
Q13(a): Do you agree with the locations of the proposed new noise
monitors at Heathrow? If not, are there alternative locations you would
favour and why? 49
Q13(b): Do you agree with the proposal to apply runway-specific limit
adjustments for easterly departures at Heathrow? If not, please give
Impact Assessment questions
Question 1: Do you agree with our assessment of how movements and
quota usage are likely to change over the period to the end of the
summer season 2017 at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted?
Question 2: Do you agree with our assessment of the costs and benefits
of option 1 at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted? Would you expect there
to be any additional costs and benefits?
Question 3: Do you agree with our assessment of the costs and benefits
of option 2 at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted? Would you expect there
to be any additional costs and benefits?
The earlier consultation :