|Consultation on Night Flight Regime|
No change proposed for the next five years
In a consultation document released this week by the Department for Transport, the Government is proposing no change to the current night flights regime around Heathrow Airport, leaving residents with another 5 years of broken sleep. The consultation runs until 28 February 2017 and will then be reviewed by the Department for Transport. Local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, which represents the communities around Heathrow, is not surprised by the proposed lack of change.
Jackie Clark-Basten, Chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “It is clear from this consultation that the Government would rather not upset residents further by making changes to the night flight regime while they are already under threat from a further 260,000 flights per year if a third runway goes ahead. I encourage residents to respond to this consultation.”
John Stewart, chair of HACAN said, “Local residents will be disappointed that their early morning wake-up call remains the first flight at 4.30am. We do, though, see the sense in postponing any changes until the question of a third runway is settled. During the forthcoming consultation on the new runway we will be arguing very strongly for no flights before 6am.”
Residents around the Heathrow villages remain disturbed by the noise of Heathrow’s operations during the night and the impact on their physical and mental health. Despite not being directly overflown, villages such as Harlington and nearby Harmondsworth, which faces demolition with the threat of the third runway, have the additional pressure of being subject to 5 more years of broken sleep. The World Health Organisation recommends 8 hours sleep per night, while physical and mental health impacts such as hypertension and depression have been linked to scheduled and unscheduled night flights .
Armelle Thomas, Harmondsworth resident, said: “The Government have not promised to extend the night flight ban to the numbers of hours of sleep recommend by the World Health Organisation, which shows their continued disregard for our health and quality of life. The health impacts of night noise are something we should be aiming to tackle.”
Night flight regimes at designated airports, which include Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, are subject to review every 5 years. At Heathrow, 16 flights are permitted to land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6.00am, though hundreds of unscheduled flights permitted during this period, including many flights being permitted to take off well beyond midnight . The first scheduled landings take place from 4.30am. A further consultation focused on the third runway at Heathrow will be launched later this month.
Plane landing at Heathrow. Picture: Ian Wylie