Government sets out new night flight rules for London airports Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted to tackle noise troubles

Rebecca Smith
The transport secretary said noise was a
The transport secretary said noise was a "major concern" for local residents near airports (Source: Getty)

The government has unveiled a series of measures in an effort to clamp down on night flight noise from London airports.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said:

I am fully aware that noise is a major concern for those living near these airports, and that night noise is widely regarded as the most disturbing impact of aviation.

While advances in new technology mean that aircraft are generally getting quieter, the limits governing night noise at these airports has not kept pace with these developments.

Read more: Government says Heathrow expansion sends strong post-Brexit signal

There will be new quotas on the number of flights, as well as a lower noise limit at Heathrow and Gatwick; to be reduced by 41 per cent and 11 per cent in winter, and 46 per cent and 17 per cent respectively in summer. The government said local residents will be given a five-year guarantee about the level of noise they will be exposed to.

The restrictions take effect from October and will be in place until 2022.

Grayling also reiterated the government's expectation that expanded Heathrow will deliver a ban on scheduled night flights of 6.5 hours.

The announcement follows a consultation on measures for new flights, which was launched back in January.

A spokesperson for London Stansted, said:

London Stansted plays a critical role in supporting economic growth and jobs both in the east of England and across the UK and we welcome the reassurance that today’s statement provides for local communities around our airport.

Night flights remain vital in the movement of time sensitive cargo including pharmaceuticals and perishable goods, while passenger airline schedules rely on early morning and late evening flights in order to keep airfares as low as possible.

The government's decision means airports will be able to exceed their total noise or flight allowance by up to 10 per cent, but there will then be an equivalent reduction from the next season. The respective noise limits are based on the ratings of the aircrafts and how loud they are on take-off and landing.

However, campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (Cagne) said the update was disappointing, and it had hoped to see a ban on night flights "as they have serious health implications for communities".

The group said in a statement that the government's decision "details that there will be no increase in night movements, but it does not detail any reduction in the movements either".

"The reduction in noise quota is to be welcomed but with the caveat that it does not place any emphasis on airlines to use quieter planes."

The government's decision said it did not receive any evidence from its consultation that it could set stricter reductions for the airports "without imposing significant costs".

Read more: Heathrow's new attempt at charming local residents: Free noise insulation

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