Heathrow residents demand end to night flights as they’re extended to 2025
People are being disturbed by Heathrow night flight noise, as flight numbers increase again after the large reduction in flights due to the pandemic. Currently Heathrow is allowed 16 landings or take-offs per night (ie. 5,800 per year) between the times of 23.30 and 06.00, Heathrow says a night quota limit is also in place, which caps the amount of noise, and around 80% of the flights are between 04:30 – 06:00. Heathrow has a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights scheduled to depart between 04:30 – 06:00 or between 23:00 – 06:00. However, the noise from up to 16 flights per night is very disruptive to the sleep of tens of thousands of Londoners and others under flight paths. People have lobbied for years to get the number reduced, as a quiet period of 8 hours is necessary, in order for everyone to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep – which is known to be necessary for health. But in July the government again “rolled over” the night flight regime, for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – to make no changes before 2025, which is one year later than originally promised in a public consultation. This same regime has been in place since 2006.
Heathrow residents demand end to night flights as they’re extended to 2025
A couple who’ve lived in a nearby village since 1978 are fuming over the flights
24 AUG 2021
A Heathrow couple has demanded an end to night-time flights at the huge transport hub, and complained about sleepless nights.
A government quota currently allows 16 flights to land at Heathrow Airport between 4:30am and 6am.
Nearby residents are outraged that this quota will continue until 2025, one year longer than originally promised in a public consultation.
The Department for Transport (DfT) says this decision, announced in their Night Flight Restrictions decision in July, is due to the unprecedented impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on aviation.
Andrew Melville, who has lived in Harmondsworth with his wife Jane since 1978, has had enough of early morning aircraft noise and landings.
He said: “It’s just ridiculous what’s going on, as residents we’re like mushrooms, we’re kept in the dark and fed s***. All the government does is listen to the aviation industry.
“I would have liked them not to kick the can down the road on this consultation period, hiding behind the pandemic and all of this.
“They’ve come up with this stuff, in their summary, about the fairness approach, but for who? It’s certainly not for our community suffering sleepless nights.”
Some in the consultation argue a World Health Organisation (WHO) report recommends a minimum of eight hours sleep each night.
But in the decision document the DfT argued that the WHO report only looks at the impacts of having less than eight hours sleep a night.
Campaigner Robert Barnstone, from Stop Heathrow Expansion, says public consultations on night flights have been “massively delayed” and could have happened as early as 2015.
He continued: “One year might not sound like a long time, but that’s 5,000 flights a year, and 16 flights a night, which is a lot of times to be disturbed per night.
“It’s a complete nightmare, all this talk of 2025, none of that was proposed in the consultation.
“We engaged in that process with good faith, unfortunately they’ve completely pulled it from under our feet.
“We thought this would be a real attempt to understand the disbenefits of night flights, and of sleep benefits, for the first time since 2006.
“So far they’ve made a complete wreck of it.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “Extending the night flight consultation allows more time to develop a better evaluation of the costs and benefits, as called for by community groups, whilst also taking into account the changing landscape resulting from the aviation sector’s pandemic recovery.
“Listening to feedback calling for reduced night noise levels for local residents, we’ve already taken action, implementing changes to take the noisiest aircraft out of operation during the night quota period.”
Heathrow Airport claims to have some of the “strictest restrictions” of any hub airport in Europe in terms of night movements, and a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights from landing before 4:30am.
It also says any decision to roll over existing night flight and noise restrictions are made by the government.
Heathrow airport says:
There is no formal ban on night flights at Heathrow but since the 1960s, the Government has placed restrictions on them. Night-time (23:30 to 06:00) operations at Heathrow are heavily restricted by the Government, which sets a limit of 5,800 night-time take-offs and landings a year. A night quota limit is also in place, which caps the amount of noise the airport can make at night.
Around 80% of the night flights at Heathrow are between 04:30 – 06:00 with an average of 16 aircraft arriving each day between these hours. Heathrow has a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights scheduled between 04:30 – 06:00 from landing before 04:30. We also do not schedule any departures between 23:00 – 06:00.
Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted
Stage 2 Consultation
The regime was intended then to last till October 2017.
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.”
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