Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands has urged transport chiefs to impose a ban on all night flights at Heathrow airport.
The Conservative minister renewed calls for all planes to be grounded between the hours of 11pm and 6am.
Mr Hands said he was frequently woken up at night by noise from aircraft passing over west London and suggested that local people’s lives were being unfairly disrupted.
He also pointed to research from international health bodies, including the World Health Organisation and the British Medical Journal, that highlights the damaging impacts of sustained sleep deprivation on people’s wellbeing.
In a letter to Lord Ahmed, the parliamentary under secretary of state for transport, Mr Hands argued that there should be a “comprehensive” ban on night flights at Heathrow.
He added: “For the past 27 years I have lived beneath the Heathrow flight path and, like many hundreds of thousands of Londoners, I am frequently woken up by aircraft noise.
“These Londoners have jobs to do and families to look after, for which they require a good night’s sleep.
“Accordingly, not only are people losing sleep because of being disturbed by aircraft noise during the night, but their daily lives are being indirectly affected by it.”
Mr Hands said that banning night flights for a seven-hour period each day would “lessen the detrimental impact on hundreds of thousands of Londoners living beneath the flight path”.
And he called for transport bosses to follow the lead of Frankfurt airport – the fourth busiest in Europe – which has banned night flights between 11pm and 5am since 2012.
Mr Hands added: “I find it unacceptable that the convenience, quality of sleep, and the health of millions of residents in London and the wider South East under the flight path is sacrificed for the sake of a few thousand inbound passengers per night.
“The 16 flights per night at Heathrow is still 16 too many. While I welcome the Department for Transport’s stated intention not to decrease the current restrictions but to encourage the use of quieter aircraft, I remain convinced that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow airport between 11pm and 6am.”
A public consultation on separate plans for a third runway at the airport was held at Hammersmith Town Hall earlier this week.
Hammersmith and Fulham council, alongside local campaign group h&fnothirdrunway, has strongly objected to the proposals due to air pollution and extra congestion.
Greg’s submission to the Night Flights consultation:
The Lord Ahmad
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR
27 February 2017
Submission to the Consultation on Night Flight Restrictions at Heathrow Airport
As the Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, I welcome the opportunity once again to make known my concerns about night flights by responding to this new consultation. I shall only make reference to night flight restrictions at Heathrow Airport, as it is Heathrow which has a direct negative impact on my constituents.
For the past twenty-seven years, I have lived beneath the Heathrow flight path and, like many hundreds of thousands of Londoners, I am frequently woken up by aircraft noise. These Londoners have jobs to do and families to look after, for which they require a good night’s sleep. Accordingly, not only are people losing sleep because of being disturbed by aircraft noise during the night, but their daily lives are being indirectly affected by it.
Essentially, my belief remains the same as during the previous consultation: that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow Airport between 11pm and 6am.
I should like to take this opportunity to draw your attention once again to the evidence from the World Heath Organization, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the British Medical Journal, on the detrimental impact on health of sustained sleep deprivation as a result of aircraft noise. I note that the Department for Transport does make reference to similar studies in its consultation document, reminding us that the Department is indeed aware of the risks to health posed by sleep disturbance as a result of night flights.
I am also aware that one of the key arguments for night flights involves the convenience for passengers travelling from destinations in the Far East – such as Hong Kong and Singapore – who would otherwise have to board their flights after midnight. I understand that business between London and the Far East is very important. Nevertheless, I gather that Frankfurt Airport – the fourth busiest airport in Europe – since 4 April 2012 has banned night flights between 11pm and 5am. Moreover, I am aware that several flights from Singapore at least do not take off until 1am, establishing a precedent that such flights can indeed take off after midnight.
I find it unacceptable, therefore, that the convenience, quality of sleep, and health of millions of residents in London and the wider South East under the flight path is sacrificed for the sake of a few thousand inbound passengers per night.
I recognise that your proposals are separate from the Government’s preferred option for the expansion of airport capacity in the South East by means of a third runway at Heathrow, and that they are concerned specifically with night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted from October 2017 for a period of five years to 2022. I should like to question your reference to bespoke arrangements “that reflect specific local circumstances” that might come into effect before October 2022. What exactly might these entail?
The sixteen flights per night at Heathrow is still sixteen flights too many. Accordingly, while I welcome the Department’s stated intention not to decrease the current restrictions but to encourage the use of quieter aircraft, I remain convinced that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow Airport between 11pm and 6am.
The Rt Hon. Greg Hands MP
Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham
Greg Hands disappointed at Government’s decision to proceed with third Heathrow runway
Friday, 28 October, 2016
From Greg Hands MP website
Greg Hands MP has repeated his longstanding opposition to a third runway at Heathrow airport. This came in response to the Government’s proposal to proceed with the scheme, which in turn was in response to the Davies Commission findings in 2015.
In September 2012, the Government appointed Sir Howard Davies to lead the Airports Commission in considering how the UK might maintain its status as an international aviation hub, and in particular provide increased capacity in the South East of England, seeing as anew, full-length runway has not been built in the South East since the Second World War.
In July 2015, the Airports Commission published its Final Report, acknowledging three viable proposals for airport expansion: a new, north-west runway at Heathrow; a second runway at Gatwick; and an extension to one of Heathrow’s existing runways. The Commission’s preferred option was the new, north-west runway at Heathrow. In December 2015, the then Secretary of State for Transport, Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP, announced thatthe Government accepted both the case for airport expansion in the South East and the Airports Commission’s shortlist of options for expansion.
Following today’s announcement of governmental support for a third runway at Heathrow, the scheme will be taken forward in the form of a draft ‘National policy statement’ for consultation in 2017, after which there will be a public consultation followed by a parliamentary vote.
Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands, has raised his constituents’ concerns on the proposed expansion of Heathrow over more than a decade as an MP. Indeed, as a long-term resident of Fulham, Greg knows all too well that both Chelsea and Fulham suffer from the direct impact of noise from aircraft flying overhead. Accordingly, Greg discussed the prospect of airport expansion in person with Sir Howard, and he made a formal submission to the Airports Commission in February 2015.
In his submission to the Airports Commission, Greg emphasised the importance for balancing the need for greater capacity with the aim of making airports quieter and more environmentally friendly. Greg drew particular attention to the need to give due consideration not only to direct users of the airports and passengers, but also to those living under the flight path. More specifically, Greg drew attention to the impact that scheduled night flights have on his constituents in Chelsea & Fulham.
While Greg remains concerned about the impact that a third runway at Heathrow Airport will have on his constituents, he fully understands the need to expand airport capacity in general in the South East of England.
Greg Hands MP said: “I know that this announcement will come as a disappointment to many of my constituents in Chelsea & Fulham, as well as to those I campaigned with when I represented Hammersmith as its MP. However, I fully acknowledge the need to increase airport capacity in the South East of England.
“There is some good news in the announcement, especially for my constituents – that the Government has recommended a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights, something for which I have been campaigning for more than a decade. The prospective and effective end of night flights does sweeten the overall blow a little.
“I should like to echo the words of my ministerial colleagues in saying how grateful I am to the Prime Minister for allowing those of us who have longstanding concerns about expansion at Heathrow to take a different view about the future of our airports. Accordingly, I shall continue representing the concerns of my constituents in Chelsea & Fulham in opposing the third runway at Heathrow. This Heathrow expansion will have a negative impact on Chelsea & Fulham through increased aircraft noise and other degradations to our quality of life”.