10th June 2005

Government condemned as night flight disturbance continues

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has condemned the Government over its announcement today (10 June) of a further 12 month postponement of action to address the severe problems of sleep disturbance caused by night flights.

New controls on night flights at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick airports were due to be introduced in October 2004 and these have already been put off for 12 months. Today’s announcement by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling once again postpones any real relief for those who currently suffer their impacts. This is despite a promise made to local communities by the Government in its 2003 Air Transport White Paper that it would “bear down” on the problem of night flights.

Stansted already has the second highest permitted number of night flights in the country and the current annual limit of 12,000 movements is thoroughly misleading because it only covers a 6½ hour quota period. SSE is calling for the noise quota period to be extended to at least the full 8 hour night-time period from 11pm to 7am and is highlighting the particular importance of at least eight hours undisturbed sleep for school children and pre-school children.

SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone responded angrily to the news that people who are repeatedly subject to sleep interruption because of night flights will have to wait for yet another year before any meaningful action is taken.

“For the Government to announce another year’s extension to the current night flying arrangements at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is a cynical betrayal of its promises,” she said. “The Air Transport White Paper made a commitment to bear down on the problem of night flights and this delay is nothing more than a disgraceful surrender to the interests of the aviation industry at the expense of local communities.”

“We will be taking legal advice on whether the Government can unilaterally keep avoiding the issue of night noise by granting the industry annual extensions to the existing night flights quotas,” she added.

SSE will shortly be issuing guidance for those who wish to respond to the consultation before the closing date of 16 September. Copies of the consultation paper on Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports are available online from the DfT website (see ‘Consultations’), by emailing nr-stagetwo@dft.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to the Department for Transport, Zone 134, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR.


  • The current number of permitted night flights at the three major London airports are: Heathrow 5,800; Gatwick 16,450; Stansted 12,000.  Actual movements (2003) were: Heathrow 5969; Gatwick 13,155; Stansted 9046
  • Stop Stansted Expansion’s website contains details on input made to the first stage of the Night Restrictions consultation which was completed in October 2004.

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits