Gatwick campaigners dismayed by government’s failure to limit night flights
The Department for Transport has published its decision document on the first part of its recent consultation on night flights at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) is dismayed that although numerous responses to the consultation showed strong and wide opposition to night flights at Gatwick and elsewhere, the Government has decided to extend current night flight numbers and noise limits for a further three years. DfT’s decision is a kick in the teeth for all those negatively affected by the noise and disturbance caused by aircraft flying at night. It entirely ignores the views of local communities, and groups representing them – and the negative effects on health caused by sleep disturbance. GACC had called on the government to ban all commercial night flights at all UK airports for a full 8-hour period each night. GACC also argued that any flights allowed should be far more strictly regulated. Unfortunately the government has not taken the opportunity, to make positive changes after the Covid hiatus. GACC says: “Instead the DfT continues to neglect its regulatory responsibilities and to see its role as serving the interests of the industry, not overflown communities.”
CAMPAIGNERS DISMAYED BY GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO LIMIT NIGHT FLIGHTS
20th July 2021
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) press release
The Department for Transport has published its decision document on the first part of its recent consultation on night flights at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.
The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) is dismayed that although responses to the consultation showed strong and wide opposition to night flights at Gatwick and elsewhere, the Government has decided to extend current night flight numbers and noise limits for a further three years. DfT’s decision is a kick in the teeth for all those negatively affected by the noise and disturbance caused by aircraft noise at night. It entirely ignores the views of local communities and groups representing them.
GACC had called on the government to ban all commercial night flights at all UK airports for a full eight-hour period each night. GACC also argued that if any night flights continued to be allowed, they should be limited to those that were genuinely essential for economic reasons, not leisure flights, and that they should be far more strictly regulated.
GACC chairman Peter Barclay said, “The Government has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to avoid making the changes that many respondents to its consultation strongly endorsed. This beggars belief.
“The pandemic hasn’t changed the reality that night flights have severe impacts on people who live near the airport and under flightpaths. They disturb sleep, cause stress and lead to serious health problems.
“The government has committed to building aviation back better. It could and should have seen the recent reduction in flights as an opportunity for positive change. Instead the Department for Transport continues to neglect its regulatory responsibilities and to see its role as serving the interests of the industry, not overflown communities.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). The Department Transport’s decision document 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
The second part of the consultation – on night flight restrictions post-October 2025 is open for comments until 3 September 2021 and can be found at:
(2) GACC’s response to the night flights consultation can be found on our website: http://www.gacc.org.uk/resources/GACC%20response%20to%20night%20flight%20consultation.pdf
For further information contact Sarah Finch on 07870 823485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
GACC’s aims are to protect and improve the environment in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport and to diminish any wider environmental impact of its operations, with particular regard to noise, congestion, air quality, light pollution and climate change.
DfT decides to roll over the night flights regime for 3 more years (not 2) for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted
The government consulted, in December 2020, on its night flights regime (closed 3rd March 2021). Part of the consultation was whether to “roll over” the current regime for the three designated airports, (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) for another 3 years, and it closed on 3rd March 2021. The second part is about wider night flights issues for all issues, and that closes on 3rd September 2021. The DfT has now published its “Decision Document” on the night flights regime and the designated airports. It has decided – despite pleas from numerous groups and individuals for change – not only to roll over the existing scheme, but to set this for THREE years more, rather than the two years originally proposed. The DfT says: “The restrictions will be reassessed in time for a new regime to commence in October 2025…” Airport groups at the designated airports are upset and furious. Night flight noise is probably the most hated, and the most damaging element of aircraft noise. The justifications given for night flights, about their economic necessity, are unconvincing. Sadly, people living with night flight noise from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be stuck with the problem, at least until 2025
Groups write to Aviation Minister, asking for new limits on night flights – including need for an 8-hour night period
A long list of organisations and groups have signed a letter to the Transport Minister, Robert Courts, asking for action to limit night flights. It is understood that the government intends to publish a consultation and call for evidence on night flights later this year. The groups hope the DfT will take their views into consideration, and not (as in 2017) decide policy on night flights BEFORE consulting. They say that all night flights, other than for emergency and humanitarian purposes, should be banned at all UK airports. The period defined as night should be an eight hour period. If any night flights are to be permitted, their number and impacts should be regulated far more robustly than they are now, at all airports. In the past, the government has argued that the economic benefits of allowing planes to fly at night outweigh the health and quality of life costs of those negatively affected. This can no longer withstand scrutiny, as many flights are just to perpetuate a low-cost carrier business model that generates unsustainable levels of leisure flights. The demand for business flights is increasingly replaced by internet communications, and most air freight does not need to arrive the next day.