Government To Review Night Flights Impact

Hacan welcomes study on economic costs of sleep loss

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HACAN, the campaign against aircraft noise which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, has welcomed the commitment by the Government to consider the economic costs of sleep disturbance. A review of night flights is expected towards the end of the year.

The announcement was made in yesterday’s House of Lords debate initiated by the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Susan Kramer. Urged by Labour's Lord Faulkener of Worcester to consider "the economic disbenefits of the effects of sleep deprivation and other social effects as a result of night flights, against the economic benefits of having more planes arriving earlier", Earl Attlee, for the Government, said that ministers "would do exactly that" when it came to Heathrow.

This will be the first time that sleep deprivation and its economic effects will be considered by a Government when assessing the future of night flights.

The issue was first raised in a report published by HACAN last year. The report from the Dutch consultants CE Delft suggested the economic disadvantages of night flights at Heathrow outweighed their benefits.  The report found that a night flight ban before 6am could benefit the national economy by as much as £86 million over a year because the economic costs of sleep deprivation, such as stress, ill-health and educed productivity at work – outweighed the economic benefits of these flights.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “We are delighted that the Government will factor in the economic costs of sleep deprivation when looking at its future plans for night flights.  We have, frankly, never believed the argument made by the airline industry that if 16 night flights were moved to daytime then the economy of London and the UK would collapse.”

The Government is due to start consulting on a new night flight regime at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick towards the end of this year.  The current agreement with the airlines runs out in October 2014.  At present 16 flights are permitted between 11.30pm and 6am.  There is no limit of flight numbers between 6am and 7am.

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May 29, 2012