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Government Night Flight Consultation 2017

Deadline Tuesday 28 February

 
 

This is your opportunity to stop noise at night. The current agreement on limiting night flights expires in October 2017 and the Government has issued a consultation. It largely ignores the evidence and views of residents. The proposal is for a five year regime to 2022 with no attempt to materially reduce night time noise.

The consultation can be downloaded from here.
Details of how you can respond can be found below.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s response can be viewed here. We seek a ban on all flights between 11pm and 7am. The consultation covers Heathrow and other airports so please make it clear in your response that Heathrow is the focus of your response. Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q7 and Q10 are the questions that relate to Heathrow. All responses to the consultation must be submitted by Tuesday 28 February.

The Government’s proposals for Heathrow continue to allow 16 flights between 11:30pm and 6am. Controls are extended to quieter aircraft and noise limits are reduced to current actual levels – neither of which in practice will reduce noise. A suggestion to tighten the controls each year may slightly reduce noise over the 5 years.

It is important that residents show strength of feeling on night flights. We encourage as many people as possible to respond. To have greatest impact, we suggest you may wish to focus your response on the following issues:

1.

   

Night flight noise affects a large number of people – over 400,000 people around Heathrow.

2.

   

There is no end in sight for those suffering from the noise. Government proposals for restrictions over the last 10 years have had little or no impact on night time noise and the current proposals will have little impact.

3.

   

Each of us will have our own personal experiences of aircraft noise at night, which may be raised in responses.

4.

   

For many the night extends from 11pm to 7am. The issue is not just about the core night period from 11:30pm to 6am. Late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment.

5.

   

Richmond Heathrow Campaign seeks a ban on all flights between 11pm and 7am. We make the case that there is no loss from re-timing night flights into the day and there is daytime capacity to absorb all night flights. There is no other remedy for the high cost on peoples’ sleep and health.

Please respond to the Department for Transport by Tuesday 28 February.

The DfT asks for consultation respondents to use the response form at this link.

Responses can also be emailed using the form provided on the DfT webpage to night.flights@dft.gsi.gov.uk or alternatively posted to: Night Flights Consultation, Department for Transport, Great Minster House (1/25) Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR.

When responding, please state whether you are responding as an individual or representing the views of an organisation. If responding on behalf of a larger organisation, please make it clear who the organisation represents and, where applicable, how the views of members were assembled.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 


More about Night Flights

Currently 16 flights land at Heathrow between 4:30 am and 6:00 am, and many more between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines state that a fixed interval of 8 hours is a minimal choice for night-time protection from noise.

Night Flight daily cycle showing quiet period from 11:30pm to 4:30 am,
       then 16 night arrivals between 4:30 am and 6:00 am,
       then a noisy shoulder period between 6;00 am and 7:00 am.
       World Heath Organisation guidelines say we should have 8 hours peace
       for example from 11pm to 7am

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s position is that WHO guidelines should apply to Heathrow and there should be no flights between 11:00 pm and 7:00 am. This should be deployed in two stages:

  • An end to flights arriving before 6:00 am, by March 2019. Almost all of these arrivals come from cities that are equally well served by flights that arrive at Heathrow during daytime hours.
  • A staged reduction of flights that arrive between 6:00 am and 7:00 am, eventually moving all of them into the day period after 7:00 am.

 
 


Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow Focus Group Consultation (June 2016)

In preparation for a full Night Flight consultation later in 2016 ahead of a new five year regime from the autumn 2017, the Department for Transport requested input from a selected focus group that included the Richmond Heathrow Campaign.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s response restated our position and submitted detailed evidence to support our position. Our full response is at this link.

Our overall position on night flight noise, as supported by the evidence in our response, is that the negative community impact is far too high with damaging consequences to health, productivity and children’s learning. Furthermore, the noise impact, as experienced by each individual and in relation to the World Health Organisation Guidelines, has and will continue to reduce too slowly.

The Airports Commission estimated in 2015 that the population exposed to noise from Heathrow aircraft above 48 decibels (LAeq 8 hour) in the night period would decrease by only around 10% over the next 35 years from 421,300 people in 2013. This underestimates the much larger numbers exposed if measurements were made, as we recommend, at the WHO Guideline level of 40 decibels (LAeq). WHO recommends most people need 8 hours sleep but those near or under a Heathrow arrival flight path are lucky if they get 5½ hours sleep.

Despite a succession of Government restrictions on night flights at Heathrow over the last fifty years, more people around Heathrow than around any other European Union airport are exposed to levels of aircraft noise at night that exceed the World Health Organisation’s guideline limit values on community noise. In 2013 the number of people exposed to aircraft noise above 48 decibels (LAeq 8 hour) in the night period was 11,600 people at Gatwick compared to 421,300 people at Heathrow.

We do not believe the results of the balanced approach and operating restrictions referred to in the consultation are sufficient to reduce in a timely manner the already excessive level of aircraft noise.

Evidence presented in our paper demonstrates that none of the night period destinations need to be served by night flights, which is a conclusion supported by the Airports Commission. The Commission thought a 3rd runway would be needed to add sufficient capacity to re-allocate night flights to the day/evening. But the evidence we provide suggests efficiency improvements being made add to existing hourly capacity and together these are sufficient to absorb a re-allocation of nighttime passengers into the daytime.

We therefore propose a ban of movements from 23:00 to 07:00. We suggest this is introduced in stages over a period of time with the first stage completed by March 2019 whereby 16 scheduled flights in the night quota period are no longer permitted and are reallocated to slots after 07:00.

 
 


Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 2 Consultation (January 2014)

The agreement on limiting night flights expires in October 2014 and the Government has issued a second stage consultation. This largely ignores the evidence and views of residents submitted in Stage 1 last April. The proposal is for a three year regime to October 2017 with no attempt to materially reduce night time noise. Instead there is a proposal to have more arrivals before 0600.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s response criticised the Consultation on the basis that it offered:

1. No Option for a Ban on Night Flights

RHC and others in Stage 1 sought a phased Ban on Heathrow Night Flights between 2300 and 0700 but this option has been ignored. Instead the lack of incentives and restrictions during the last two year roll-over from expiry of the previous regime is perpetuated for another three years. The reduction in noise to World Health Organisation guidelines – which say the sleep period should be at least 8 hours for most people – will have been stalled for 5 years.

   

We say the Government should introduce a new 5 year regime with a Heathrow Night Flight Ban. At the very minimum there should be reduced average noise levels, further limits on the noisiest aircraft, and no scheduled flights before 0530 (instead of the current 0430). These measures are needed to reduce the negative noise impact on people’s health, quality of life and human rights and to achieve WHO standards by the prescribed year 2030.

2. A further 3 Years of current Night Flight Rules

The reason given by the Government for extending the present restrictions to 2017 is to enable the next Government to review them in the light of any recommendations from the Airports Commission. It seems unlikely the Commission’s report in 2015 on long term capacity will compromise a decision taken now to reduce the noise over a 5 year regime starting no later than 2015.

   

We say steps should be taken to revise the Heathrow regime now, in time for further consultation and decision before the general election in 2015, with implementation no later than October 2015 for a 5 year term.

3. Plans for More Flights before 6am

Subsequent to the publication of the Stage 2 consultation, the Airports Commission recommended that the number of movements permitted before 6am should be increased from its current limit of 16 so as to alleviate congestion and planes queuing in arrival stacks after 6am, and that this should be trialled by 2015 at the latest.

   

We say there should be no additional flights before 6am, even for a trial period. Reducing stack sizes and reducing the need to use both runways can be achieved by managing flight arrival times and smoothing schedules later in the day rather than increasing average night noise and early flight arrivals before 6am.

 
 


Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 1 Consultation (April 2013)

This Stage 1 Consultation was an open call for evidence to inform the development of proposals for the next Night Flights regime, and also to inform the work of the Airports Commission.

The DfT has now started analysing the responses and issue a Stage 2 consultation later this year. The new regime should be announced by spring 2014.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign submitted a comprehensive response to the DfT, and also a Guide to 23 key questions which affect Richmond.

Overall, the Richmond Heathrow Campaign proposed a ban on all night flights, beginning with those between 11pm and 6am. In our view there is no credible economic justification for such flights. In particular, there is nothing unique or essential about the current sixteen or so flights which arrive each morning before 6am. There is daytime capacity for additional flights to replace any lost through a ban.

We therefore:

  • Requested a commitment that operations at Heathrow Airport will move towards compliance with World Health Organisation Guidelines on noise for each hour of the full eight hour night period (11pm to 7am).
  • Asked for the Stage 2 consultation to include the option of a complete ban on flights before 6am within two years.