Heathrow night flights to continue unchanged despite protests from Richmond & Wandsworth Councils
The government has announced that night flights will continue at Heathrow airport until the airport is expanded, with a 3rd runway. The DfT document says there will be no change to the number of flights allowed between 11.30pm and 6am, until October 2022. The current regime ends in October 2017. Richmond and Wandsworth councils say the government has chosen to gamble with the health of Londoners, rather than challenge the airline industry to change. Richmond Council leader, councillor Paul Hodgins said: “Put plain and simply, the Government consultation was pointless. They were proposing virtually no changes to begin with and it looks like they haven’t listened to people’s feedback at all.” There is increasing scientific evidence that night flights impact adversely on human health, leading to a variety of conditions. Cllr Hodgins says “Heathrow already steps over the [WHO guidance] line when it comes to night noise …. The number of planes that depart and arrive from the airport at night is unacceptable, to protect people’s ears and sleep we need an all-out ban.” Wandsworth Council leader, Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “The Government’s consultation on night flights has been exposed as a sham. Heathrow’s vested interests have been protected while the health and well-being of Londoners living under the flights paths has been sacrificed.”
Night flights to continue at Heathrow despite protests from Richmond Council
According to the government night flights will continue unless the expansion goes ahead
14.7.2017 (Local Guardian)
The government has announced that night flights will continue at Heathrow airport until the airport is expanded.
Following a consultation, the government announced yesterday (July 13) that there will be no change to the number of flights allowed between 11.30pm and 6am, until October 2022.
Richmond and Wandsworth councils have been fighting to reduce night flights, arguing that the government has chosen to gamble with the health of Londoners, rather than challenge the airline industry to change.
Richmond Council leader, councillor Paul Hodgins said: “Put plain and simply, the Government consultation was pointless.
“They were proposing virtually no changes to begin with and it looks like they haven’t listened to people’s feedback at all.”
According to the councils, there is increasing scientific evidence which shows that night flights impact adversely on human health, leading to a variety of conditions.
“The World Health Organisation guidance is clear -it states that Heathrow already steps over the line when it comes to night noise,” added Cllr Hodgins.
“The number of planes that depart and arrive from the airport at night is unacceptable, to protect people’s ears and sleep we need an all-out ban.”
The current regime for night flight restrictions is due to expire in October 2017 and despite objections raised at a consultation held earlier this year, the new five-year plan the new proposals did not include any changes.
Wandsworth Council leader, cllr Ravi Govindia said: “The Government’s consultation on night flights has been exposed as a sham.
“Heathrow’s vested interests have been protected while the health and well-being of Londoners living under the flights paths has been sacrificed.”
According to the proposed plans there will be around 16 flights per night during the summer and 18 in the winter and changes to the “noise quota” regime which the government says will encourage the use of new quieter aircraft.
A Back Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow is listening to local people who are concerned over noise by, for example, this week launching the Quieter Homes Scheme which will help hundreds of residents and their families.
“But the government should not forget that most residents support Heathrow expansion because of the huge benefits that will come to local communities such as 10,000 apprenticeships and 77,000 new local jobs.”
DfT confirms numbers of night flights – till 2022 – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will not be cut
Changes to the night flights regime, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have been delayed for several years. The DfT has now produced its Decision Document on the issue. Anyone expecting meaningful cuts in night flights, or noise from night flights will be disappointed. There is no change in numbers, and just some tinkering with noise categories. The DfT says night flights from Heathrow will continue until (if) the airport is expanded, and it just hopes airlines will be using slightly less noisy planes. Pretty much, effectively, “business as usual.” Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said he had to “strike a balance between the economic benefits of flying and the impact on local residents.” The DfT objective is to: “encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the existing benefits of night flights”. But it says: “Many industry responses welcomed the recognition by government of the benefits night flights offer and highlighted the importance of night flights to the business models of airlines, for instance by allowing low-cost airlines to operate the necessary minimum amount of rotations a day, or the benefits to the time-sensitive freight sector through enabling next day deliveries. ”
GACC finds the DfT’s night flight decision – to make no cuts in Gatwick flights – disappointing
The Government’s long-delayed decision on the night flight rules for the next 5 years – to 2022 – has at last been published. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) finds it disappointing that there is to be no reduction in the number of night flights. Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman, commented: ‘Many of our members want to see a total ban on all night flights at Gatwick, as has been promised for Heathrow, and we proposed that at least there should be a gradual reduction towards that target. It is alarming that there is to be no change in the number (at Gatwick) permitted in winter [winter/summer is based on when the clocks change] which (since the current quota is not fully used) could permit a 60% increase in the actual number of night flights in winter.” GACC welcomes the reduction in the summer noise quotas which will ensure no increase in noise during summer months. GACC had been hoping for a gradual year-by-year reduction in noise quotas. That would put pressure on airlines to buy and use quieter (= slightly less noisy) aircraft. But this has been abandoned – as a result of lobbying by the airlines. GACC says it is “wicked” that the noise quota for the winter will also permit a 60% increase in noise levels at night in the winter. That appears to contradict the Government claim that the aim is to “’Limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night…”
Heathrow’s vague proposal on no night flights – what is Heathrow really saying?
Heathrow currently, under current night flight controls that are due to be re-considered in 2017, is allowed 5,800 night flights per year. That’s an average of 16 arriving each morning, typically between 4.30am and 6am. The latest flights should leave by 11.30pm but there are many that are later, almost up to midnight. Heathrow has been very reluctant to agree to a ban between 11.30pm and 6am, which was the condition imposed by the Airports Commission. Heathrow claims the early arrivals are vital for businessmen catching early flights – especially those from the UK regions. But now, desperate to be allowed a 3rd runway, Heathrow proposal [very careful, rather odd wording]: “The introduction of a legally binding ban on all scheduled night flights for six and a half hours (as recommended by the Airports Commission) from 11 pm to 5:30 am when the third runway opens.” and “We will support the earlier introduction of this extended ban on night flights by Government as soon as the necessary airspace has been modernised after planning consent for the third runway has been secured.” Heathrow only mentions scheduled flights. Not late ones. It is widely recognised that for health, people need 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. Not 6.5 hours. Heathrow makes no mention of the inevitable concentrated landings and take offs at the shoulder periods, in order to keep 6.5 hours quiet. Apart from insomniacs and shift workers, who else regards the end of the night as 5.30am?
There are actually currently no scheduled flights at Heathrow from 11:00 to 11:30 – so the extra half hour claimed by JHK is a bit disingenuous to say the least. Instead of the time with no scheduled flights being the same 6.5 hours the Airports Commission stated, the effective new period without flights is half an hour less than Heathrow’s offer appears to be.
Heathrow do not promise to reduce, or even keep to the same level, overall numbers of night flights at Heathrow. With a 3rd runway it will be possible to re-time the 8 or so arrivals that currently occur between 04:30 and 05:30 into the post 5:30 to 7:00 period.
The change in the night fight regime would be imposed by the DfT under the night flying Regulations which are made under the Civil Aviation Act 1982 section 78. The ban would therefore have the force of law. Airports have to account monthly to DfT on how the regulations have been implemented.
Heathrow would have no option by to accept the law. They would have no choice, whether or not Heathrow says they will “support” its introduction.