Another wasted opportunity to ban night flights once and for all

Published: Friday 14th July 17

Night flights from Heathrow will continue unless the airport is expanded, the Government has confirmed. A move that Richmond and Wandsworth councils argue is a serious gamble with the health of Londoners.

The current regime for night flight restrictions is due to expire in October 2017.  Earlier this year the Government launched a consultation on proposals that they claim will ‘help encourage the use of quieter aircraft’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Despite thousands of people campaigning for a crack-down on night flights from the airport, these proposals did not propose any changes that actually will result in a change to the number of flights allowed between 11.30pm and 6am from the west London airport.

Yesterday, the Government announced that following the consultation, the plans would be implemented. This new regime would be in place for five years and links any future reduction in night flights to the delivery of a third runway at Heathrow.

The plans include: 

• No overall change in the number of flights allowed between 11.30pm and 6am at Heathrow. This equals around 16 flights per night during the summer and 18 in the winter.
• Changes to the “noise quota” regime which the Government says will encourage the use of new quieter aircraft.

Richmond and Wandsworth councils have long campaigned for a reduction of night flights at the airport, arguing that the Government has chosen to gamble with the health of Londoners, rather than challenge the airline industry to change. There is increasing scientific evidence which shows that night flights impact adversely on human health, leading to a variety of conditions including high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart attacks.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “The Government’s consultation on night flights has been exposed as a sham.

“Heathrow’s vested interests have been protected while the health and well-being of Londoners living under the flights paths has been sacrificed. Ministers need to wake up and realise the damage this is doing to our city.”

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, added: “Put plain and simply, the Government consultation was pointless. They were proposing virtually no changes to begin with and it looks like they haven’t listened to people’s feedback at all. 

“Night flights over our Capital are unnecessary and unacceptable.  The World Health Organisation guidance is clear. It states that Heathrow already steps over the line when it comes to night noise. They are placing the apparent needs of the airport above the health of Londoners.

“The number of planes that depart and arrive from the airport at night is unacceptable. To protect people’s ears and sleep we need an all-out ban.”

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Recent comments

Night flights should be banned full stop. I agree with my neighbours who have commented here that the so-called quieter aircraft are not quiet and still make enough noise to wake you up, and certainly disturb the quality of your sleep. If anything, night hours should be extended.
JB

29 July 2017

Surely logically there MUST be no expansion of night flights (or any flights) UNTIL the much mooted quieter aircraft ACTUALLY EXIST. Heathrow (Spanish/Chinese consortium so not interested in our health) have spent millions on publicity for expansion and nothing on getting planes quieter. Help!
Carol Tibbs

22 July 2017

All the aircraft flying over Wandsworth are too noisy. The so-called quieter aircraft are only marginally better in that they seem to have suppressed the whining Doppler effect whistle. The night time period should run from 6pm to 8 am the next morning i.e. 14 hours, to benefit all ages and to allow use of gardens on summer evenings. I'd make exceptions for those turboprop aircraft that you used to see going to City Airport. They sounded nice!
A

22 July 2017

The government restrictions on night flights clearly is not being adhered to. At present flights start from 4.30am and go over my house at approximately 1 every 90 seconds. Who is supposed to monitor these flights and what are the penalties to the airline or air traffic controllers if these rules are broken? In the summer when all the windows are open the noise is intolerable and makes it impossible to sleep after 4.30am.
Patricia Rudland

22 July 2017

The government restrictions on night flights clearly is not being adhered to. At present flights start from 4.30am and go over my house at approximately 1 every 90 seconds. Who is supposed to monitor these flights and what are the penalties to the airline or air traffic controllers if these rules are broken? In the summer when all the windows are open the noise is intolerable and makes it impossible to sleep after 4.30am.
Patricia Rudland

22 July 2017

Just get used to it. I live between the railway and a busy main road. Noise 24 hours - which is to be expected if we want to live in a city. People get used to noise with time and I don't even have double glazing.
Jane Heany

21 July 2017