Conservative councillors have made it clear they back “further controlled expansion” but want night flights removed.
Some residents say they are being forced to take sleeping tablets because of the disruption caused by night flights.
In a statement, released yesterday, the Southend Conservatives, said: “We have concluded that whilst we would continue to support the airport and some further controlled growth and expansion, we do not support the continuation of the night flights.
“We feel that while many accept the airport and the flights during the day, the night-time flights are simply a compromise too far and not justifiable as a means to an end.
“We will continue to explore every avenue possible to have the night flight quota removed from the Airport’s Section 106 Licence Agreement.”
Despite the Tory concerns, the Labour, Lib Dem and Independent administration at the council raised concerns over job losses.
Independent councillor Martin Terry, said: “We are witnessing businesses crumbling around us and jobs being lost. That activity provides, based on Government statistics, in excess of 700 jobs.
“More than 200 are directly at the airport, so we have to be very careful about what we are saying and what we are doing.
“I absolutely empathise with the noise nuisance, and there are issues around the types of aircraft, however, at this time we are going to be facing a lot of unemployment should we be turning our back on these jobs.”
June Carr, who has lived at her home in Wells Avenue, Southend, for more than 30 years, has been fighting against the airport expansion for several years.
June and her husband, Alex, have resorted to sleeping tablets.
June, told the Echo: “We’re all on sleeping tablets and anti-depressants. “The noise can go on for an hour – one night the noise went on from 3am until 4.55am.
Another resident Carol Bonnett, 58, added: “We’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor in our front lounge because we can’t sleep. I’ve got sleeping tablets from the doctors.”
Lib Dem councillor, Carole Mulroney, said: “The decision as to whether to agree to night flights was taken by full council. The Lib Dems proposed a counter motion to not have night flights but lost the vote.”
A spokesman for Southend Airport, said: “London Southend Airport is permitted on average four night flights per day and consistently operates below that limit.
“The airport works with its airline partners and stakeholders to balance the benefit the airport delivers to the local and regional economy against its impacts, and will continue to do so.”
‘Noisy night flights are only way airport will keep going’
By Toby Emes, Reporter (Basildon, Canvey and Southend Echo)
9th September 2020
OVERNIGHT cargo flights will have to continue to keep Southend Airport afloat as it battles to weather the coronavirus storm, councillors claim.
The controversial night flights, which have plagued neighbours for years, “are the only thing keeping the airport running”, Tory councillors have warned.
Conservative councillors Mark Flewitt and Kevin Buck both say the night flights will have to continue, despite the anger from those living under the flight paths.
In a new report from Southend Airport, which the Echo has seen, airport bosses reveal only 75 per cent of the quota for night time flights was used over the past year, with 32 per per cent of those flights flying over Leigh.
The report also states 27 of the airport’s 19,300 departures did not follow “noise preferential routes”; routes put in place to ease the burden on residents.
Kevin Buck, shadow councillor in charge of transport at Southend Council, said: “It’s not viable to scrap the night flights.
“The airport will have to continue running the night flights. It’s a crucial lifeline. The aviation industry has taken a massive hit.”
The airport’s cargo flights with Amazon had been operating three times every night between 1am and 5.30am.
As part of a supposed agreement reached earlier this year between the airport and residents, alongside MP Sir David Amess, the final night flight would depart at 12.20am, with no other flights until after 6am.
But that agreement is now no longer seen as viable.
John Fuller, a member of the Friends of the Earth group, has said Southend Airport must close as it’s location is “not appropriate.”
Mr Fuller said: “Night flights have been a huge issue for the community for a while.
“It’s damaging people’s health and reducing life expectancy.
“But the airport see it as crucial for their finances, and always have done.
“The airport must be closed. It’s not the right place for it.
“It’s in the middle of Rochford and Southend and needs to be further out of town. This is now the time to take climate change seriously and reduce flights. I welcome the reduction in flights and easyJet withdrawing.
“There is no way any airport should be expanding in the current climate.”
Amazon said earlier this month night flights would be staying, further to re-assessment.
Southend Airport was asked to comment.
The apparent agreement between airport bosses and campaigners to pause the flights between midnight and 6am has been ignored, with this “no longer viable.”