DfT night flights consultation – deadline for first section is 3rd March (second section 31st May)

The DfT has a consultation currently, on night flights.  The consultation has two parts. First, by 3 March the DfT seeking views on its proposals to extend the current night flight restrictions, set in 2017, for an additional two years from October 2022, and to ban the noisiest category of aircraft from operating in the night from October 2022 (this is only relevant for the few airports at which these planes are permitted). Then second, by 31st May it is seeking wider views on its national night flight policy and the structure of night flight restrictions beyond 2024.  Groups concerned about aircraft noise are very much opposed to the DfT’s proposal to extend current night flight restrictions for an additional 2 years, as it is widely acknowledged that plane noise at night disturbs sleep thousands, and negatively affects their mental and physical health.  The government has repeatedly rolled forward night flight limits set many years ago, without any proper re-examination of the issues. There are claims of the economic benefits of night flights, and these need to be re-assessed. With falling business flights, one frequent justification is to increase the number of daily “rotations” by low-cost airlines, keeping their fare prices low.
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Part 1

The first part of the consultation is here

Guidance from the Aviation Communities Forum (ACF) and John Stewart is at Night Flights Consultation key points 2020
Guidance how to respond from GACC at Gatwick is at DECEMBER 2020 NIGHT FLIGHT CONSULTATION QUESTIONS 6-12

Night flights

The government’s consultation on night flights has now been split into two parts.

Part 1

1. By 3 March it is seeking views on its proposals to extend the current night flight restrictions, set in 2017, for an additional two years from October 2022, and to ban the noisiest category of aircraft (Quota Count 4 aircraft) from operating in the night from October 2022.  These points are covered by questions 6-12 of the consultation.
2. By 31 May it is seeking wider views on its national night flight policy,  the structure of night flight restrictions beyond 2024, dispensations and airport designation arrangements (questions 13-77 of the consultation).
The consultation with the  3rd March deadline is here.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-between-2022-and-2024-plus-future-night-flight-policy/night-flight-restrictions#noise-abatement-objective-for-the-period-october-2022-to-october-2024
If people want to use parts of the ACF response in your own please feel free to do so, although it’s always best to use your own words wherever possible.
In summary the current draft responses argue for:
  • no extension of the current night flight restrictions for an additional two years, on the grounds that it is complacent, irresponsible and fails to take account of ever-growing evidence on the health and other costs of night flights
  • instead, a significant reduction in night flights in the remainder of the current regulatory period, to 2022, and thereafter, a ban on night flights at all UK airports for a full eight-hour period
  • if that is rejected, much lower limits on the number of night flights, restricting them to services which are genuinely essential for economic reasons (and emergencies), and much tougher regulation to ensure that all night flights are operated by the least noisy categories of aircraft, that future pricing of night flights fully reflects the costs they impose and that dispensations are only granted in genuinely exceptional circumstances.  
  • clear criteria for airport designation accompanied by robust, effective arrangements for the regulation of aircraft noise using the powers that designation provides, or by the introduction of an alternative form of regulation.

Part 2

Night flights restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports beyond 2024, plus national night flight policy

Published 4 March 2021

The documents are at

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flights-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-beyond-2024-plus-national-night-flight-policy/night-flights-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-beyond-2024-plus-national-night-flight-policy

The DfT says:

We originally sought views and evidence on policy options for the government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024 and nationally, as part of the Night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports between 2022 and 2024 plus future night flight policy consultation of December 2020.

We have subsequently decided, through this consultation, to allow extra time for consideration of these policy options.

Much of the information within this consultation will reference the December 2020 consultation, since the information remains unchanged from that time.

This consultation has been created to allow extra time for consideration of what was originally part 2 of the Night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports between 2022 and 2024 plus future night flight policy’ consultation.

We seek early views and evidence on policy options for the government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024 and nationally. This includes:

  • whether we should amend our national noise policy to include specific policy for night noise
  • revising our night flight dispensation guidance
  • whether we should set criteria for airport designation
  • what any future night flight regime at the designated airports should look like

This consultation will close on 31 May 2021.

The findings from this consultation will be used to inform policy options. We aim to set out firm proposals for the designated airports beyond 2024 in a consultation planned for 2022.

This process relates to the current designated airports in their current operational form and it does not consider any scenarios related to airport expansion proposals.

This consultation process will be of interest to: * communities that live near airports or underneath flightpaths * local authorities * airlines * airport operators * businesses or consumers that depend on the aviation sector.

The  questions, 13 – 77, are copied from the DfT website at the bottom of this AirportWatch page.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flights-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-beyond-2024-plus-national-night-flight-policy/night-flights-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-beyond-2024-plus-national-night-flight-policy


Airspace modernisation

The Airspace Strategy Board, which oversees the airspace modernisation programme, is due to meet on 9 February.  The Aviation Communities Forum don’t yet have an agenda for that meeting but have written to the aviation minister setting out critical gaps in the policy, governance and technology foundations of the programme and asking that these are discussed at the Board.

The DfT website: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-between-2022-and-2024-plus-future-night-flight-policy/night-flight-restrictions#noise-abatement-objective-for-the-period-october-2022-to-october-2024

Night flight restrictions

Published 2 December 2020

The government recognises that noise from aircraft taking-off and landing at night is often regarded by communities as the most disturbing form of airport operations. We also recognise that there is evidence, including in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) revised Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region, that sleep disturbance caused by aircraft night operations can have adverse health impacts on overflown communities.

At the same time, the aviation sector has material value to the economy and night flights are an important contributor to this at many airports. The aviation industry plays a significant role in the UK economy and it connects people and UK businesses with the world. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s aviation network was the third largest in the world, after the USA and China[footnote 1]. In 2019, UK airports served over 370 destinations in around 100 countries and handled over 297 million passengers[footnote 2]. Aviation also facilitates global trade with £95 billion of goods exported by air extra-EU countries in 2018[footnote 3]. The sector directly provided around 230,000 jobs with many more employed indirectly[footnote 2] and the sector contributed at least £22 billion annually to UK GDP[footnote 4].

This consultation process

This is a two-stage consultation process which seeks views on the regime at the designated airports beyond 2022, and night flights in the national context. This consultation is for a period of 3 months.

Stage 1 of this consultation has 2 purposes. Firstly, we are formally consulting on our proposal to maintain the existing night flight restrictions for the designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) from 2022 to 2024, and our proposal to ban QC4 rated aircraft movements during the night quota period (23:30 to 06:00). Responses to this section of the consultation will allow us to make a final policy decision on the regime for the designated airport beyond 2022 in summer 2021.

Secondly, we are also seeking early views and evidence on policy options for the government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024, and nationally. This includes whether we should amend our national noise policy to include specific policy for night noise, revising our night flight dispensation guidance, whether we should set criteria for airport designation, and what any future night flight regime at the designated airports should look like.

We would aim to publish stage 2 of this consultation in 2022 which will set out firm proposals for the designated airports beyond 2024.

This process relates to the current designated airports in their current operational form and it does not consider any scenarios related to airport expansion proposals.

This consultation process will be of interest to communities that live near airports or underneath flightpaths, local authorities, airlines, airport operators, and businesses or consumers that depend on the aviation sector.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-heathrow-gatwick-and-stansted-airports-between-2022-and-2024-plus-future-night-flight-policy/night-flight-restrictions#noise-abatement-objective-for-the-period-october-2022-to-october-2024

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The questions for Part 2 of the Night Flights consultation by the DfT:

 

13/ What are your views on the:

  • findings of the night flight dispensation review?
  • proposals for the night flight dispensation review?

14/ Should disruption due to local weather qualify for dispensations?

15/ Should disruption due to en-route weather qualify for dispensations?

16/ Should disruption due to foreign airport weather qualify for dispensations?

17/ Should disruption caused by ATC industrial action qualify for dispensations?

18/ Should disruption caused by industrial action by airport staff qualify for dispensations?

19/ Should disruption caused by industrial action by airline staff qualify for dispensations?

20/ Should network capacity delays qualify for dispensations?

21/ Should delays caused by serious criminal or terrorist activity that affect multiple flights qualify for dispensations?

22/ Should cumulative delays qualify for dispensations?

23/ Should dispensations be permitted for flights delayed to the NQP due to a medical emergency that has passed?

24/ Should dispensations be permitted for flights delayed to the NQP due to a police emergency (for example a disruptive passenger) that has passed?

25/ Should dispensations be permitted for the repositioning of emergency service (including medical transplant) aircraft?

26/ Should dispensations on the basis of reducing carbon emissions be permitted?

27/ Should pre-emptive dispensations be permitted?

28/ Should dispensations be granted for information technology failures?

29/ Supply any further views or evidence on the guidance allowing airport operators to grant dispensations you may have?

30/ What are your views on government dispensations overall (provide evidence to support your view)?

31/ What length should the night flight regime beyond 2024 be?

32/ How do you think the length of regime will affect you (provide evidence to support your view)?

33/ Do you think that QC is the best system for limiting noise at the designated airports?

34/ What do you think are the:

  • advantages of changing to a new system?
  • disadvantages of changing to a new system?

35/ Do you have evidence of other noise management regimes being used elsewhere and how they compare with the current system?

36/ Should we introduce an additional QC category for quieter aircraft in the longer-term?

37/ Should the government reintroduce an exempt category?

38/ Please provide evidence to support your position.

39/ Do you think we should re-baseline the night quota system in the longer-term?

40/ What factors should we consider when anticipating how to best future proof a re-baselined QC system?

41/ What costs, if any, would you anticipate in re-baselining the QC system?

42/ Would you be impacted if the NQP was extended to 23:00 to 07:00?

43/ Provide evidence to support your view.

44/ Do you think night flights in certain hours of the NQP have a greater impact on local communities than other times of the NQP?

45/ Provide evidence to support your view.

46/ Would a mechanism that disincentivises aircraft movements in periods of the night that are more sensitive for communities impact you (provide evidence to support your view)?

47/ Provide evidence to support your position

48/ What would be the impact on you if QC4 rated aircraft movements were banned between 23:00 and 07:00 after October 2024?

49/ What would be the impact on you if a scheduling ban was placed on QC2 rated aircraft movements between 23:30 and 06:00 after October 2024?

50/ What would be the impact on you or your business if a scheduling ban was placed on QC2 rated aircraft movements between 23:00 and 07:00 after October 2024

51/ If bans are introduced should the implementation be staged?

52/ Please provide evidence to support your position.

53/ In a future regime how should we manage the number of aircraft movements (detailing the airport or airports relevant to your view)?

54/ In a future regime how should we manage an airports’ noise allowances (detailing the airport or airports relevant to your view)?

55/ Should we remove the movement limit and manage night flights through a QC limit only?

56/ Provide evidence to support your view.

57/ Should we introduce a ring-fencing mechanism to ensure night slots are available for:

58/ Provide evidence to support your view.

59/ Should an airline be able to use unused allowances later in the season?

60/ If the government decided that unused allowances should be returned to the airport’s pool, what would be the impacts on:

  • communities?
  • airports?
  • airport users?
  • airlines?
  • business in and around airports?

61/ Do you agree or disagree that the current carry-over process benefits you?

62/ Provide evidence to support your view.

63/ What changes, if any, would you like to see to the carry-over process and how would this impact you?

64/ How fair a balance between health and economic objectives do you think our current night flight approach is?

65/ What are your views on the health impacts of aviation noise at night, including potential impacts on different groups in society (provide evidence to support your view)?

66/ What are your views on the economic value of night flights, including the potential value on different businesses and aviation sectors (provide evidence to support your view)?

67/ What are you views on changes to aircraft noise at night as result of the COVID-19 pandemic (provide evidence to support your view)?

68/ In your opinion what are the advantages or disadvantages that the emergence of new technology will have in relation to night noise from aircraft within the next 10 years (provide evidence to support your view)?

69/ Should we include a reference to night noise when we publish a revised aviation noise objective?

70/ What factors relating to night noise should we include if we do introduce a noise reference in our revised aviation noise objective?

71/ Should the government set criteria for airport designation?

72/ What do you think are the:

  • advantages to the government setting criteria for airport designation?
  • disadvantages to the government setting criteria for airport designation?

73/ What factors, if any, do you think we should consider when setting criteria for designation?

74/ How should any criteria for designation be agreed?

75/ What impact, if any, do you think the designation of an airport have on:

  • communities?
  • airports?
  • airport users?
  • airlines?
  • business in and around airports?

76/ What impact, if any, do you think the de-designation of an already designated airport (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted) will have on:

  • communities?
  • airports?
  • airport users?
  • airlines?
  • business in and around airports?

77/ Any other comments?