Phillip Hammond: Ministers ‘only backed third Heathrow runway if night flight ban remained’

Several Cabinet ministers only backed a Heathrow 3rd runway on the condition that the Government ensured there was a proper night flight ban. At a meeting in his Englefield Green constituency, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond hit back at airlines – like IAG – that are pushing strongly for early morning flights, which cause noise misery for many local people, to be allowed to continue. He told local residents in his Runnymede and Weybridge constituency that he supports Heathrow expansion if measures proposed by the Airport Commission (Chairman, Howard Davies) were guaranteed to protect communities close to the airport. The Commission said there should be a ban on all scheduled [ignoring un-scheduled however] night flights between 11.30pm and 6.00am.  Heathrow has proposed 11pm to 5.30am – it wants early flights. IAG has said it needs flights landing early, and at the terminal, by 5.30am and then a large number of flights before 7am.  Few people consider 5.15am the end of their period of sleep, so that is entirely unacceptable to anyone who is woken by plane noise. Evidence shows many health impacts of sleep disturbed by plane noise, including cardiovascular impacts and Type 2 diabetes.



Ministers ‘only backed third Heathrow runway if night flight ban remained’



heathrowsignpa1101a.jpgHeathrow: the conditions was backed by several ministers Steve Parsons/PA

Several Cabinet ministers only backed a third runway at Heathrow provided the Government does not give in to airlines seeking to water down a night flight ban, the Chancellor has revealed.

Philip Hammond hit back at airlines who are campaigning for early morning flights, which cause noise misery for many local people, to be allowed to continue.

He told local residents in his Runnymede and Weybridge constituency that he supports Heathrow expansion if measures proposed by the Airport Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies who is now chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, were guaranteed to protect communities close to the airport.

They included a ban on all scheduled night flights between 11.30pm and 6.00am.

“We’re not supposed to talk about what happens in Cabinet meetings but I will tell you when we made decision to support the third runway, I said and many of my colleagues said we make this decision on the basis that we accept Davies recommendations in the round including mitigations that Davies has proposed,” he said at a meeting in Englefield Green in his constituency.

Currently, around 16 night flights are permitted between 4.30am and 6am a day to allow overnight long haul flights to arrive very early in the morning.

The Government has backed a six-and-a-half hour night flight ban between 11pm and 7am but has not yet specified the exact period.

Heathrow has proposed 11pm to 5.30am.

Mr Hammond, who appeared to be backing the Davies recommendation of the night flights restrictions lasting until 6am, told the meeting on Friday: “There should be a statutory ban on them. But the airlines (are) already fighting back.

“So we shouldn’t assume that just because Davies recommended it that it is necessarily going to happen. We need to maintain the pressure in the campaign.”

He added that regulations have meant that planes have to fly direct to their destination but he believes this should be changed.

“It must be possible to allow aircraft arriving in the vicinity early in the morning before the curfew ends to hold somewhere safe, over the sea, for an hour or hour and a half before coming in,” he added.

“It was a rule that was made in the day when getting into a plane was extremely dangerous and you wanted to get back on the ground as fast as possible. That no longer applies.”

Robert Barnstone, campaign co-ordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Any talk of night flight bans need to take effect now, with an unexpanded, two-runway Heathrow.

“Night flights cause considerable sleep interruptions for hundreds of thousands of people around Heathrow and fall short of recommendations from the World Health Organisation that people should have eight hours sleep per night. We encourage the Chancellor to stand up for his constituents and join this fight for peace.”

A spokesman for International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, said: “We recognise there is a balance to be struck between the concerns of local communities and the ability for the UK to be connected to the world.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Hammond stressed a bigger Heathrow was the only option to maintain a global hub airport in London but that as an MP with a constituency affected by its expansion, his “priority” was to ensure the Commission’s measures to protect local communities were delivered.



See also

Night flight noise likely to increase risk of Type 2 diabetes for those living under flightpaths

Research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel has shown that people who live below an airport flightpath are more than 80% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who live in quieter areas. The findings have led scientists to suggest that aircraft noise, rather than air pollution, could be to blame. The noise of the planes overhead, when they are low and loud, is likely to have a devastating effect on the body’s metabolism, leading to increased blood sugar levels. The effect is largely from noise at night, confirming that night flights are damaging to health. The cost to the health of over-flown populations needs to be properly taken into account, and given enough significance against small economic benefits of night flights to airports and airlines (which is how the DfT assesses the issue at present). Heathrow already has – by an order of magnitude – the most people affected by night flights, with over 700,000 living within the 55 Lden noise average contours. The link to diabetes is through the body’s reaction to stress, raising blood pressure. Noise stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis, leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, limb amputations and blindness. It affects over 3 million people in the UK.

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Willie Walsh adamant Heathrow must have arrivals well before 5.30am – then full on for next 2 hours

International Airlines Group (IAG), which is Heathrow’s biggest customer, has submitted its evidence to the Transport Committee, to its inquiry into the Airports NPS. IAG does not agree there should be a ban on night flights of six and a half hours, that the NPS and the DfT are proposing – hoping that would overcome local opposition to the runway. The WHO says for good health, people need 7 – 8 hours sleep, and more for some age groups. Therefore even six and a half hours is not enough. But IAG says …”the NPS does not recognise the operational flexibility required for flights to connect and deliver the associated benefits. The Government should therefore avoid unreasonable restrictions on night operations that would prevent economically valuable connections.” … from small changes IAG has made “Local communities have therefore benefited … from a reduction in noise while no additional night movements have been granted at Heathrow in return.” … if Heathrow opened at 7am, that would be 2 hours later than Frankfurt … to make the best use of the new runway, increase connectivity etc … “the first arrivals will need to be scheduled to have landed and be on-stand ready to disembark passengers by 05:30, with a high arrival movement capacity in the subsequent 1-2 hours.”

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