31st January 2014

Government must act to end night flights

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has today [31 January 2014] made a detailed submission to the Department for Transport (DfT) calling for Government action to end the scourge of noisy night flights.

SSE’s submission is in response to a Government consultation which proposes that Stansted should continue to be allowed 12,000 flights a year between the hours of 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow and far more than are needed.

The 12,000 cap was set in 2006 at a time when Stansted was still expanding rapidly. The Government anticipated that a second runway would soon be built and that more night flights would be needed. However, today Stansted is handling 30% less traffic than it was in 2006 and its plans for a second runway were cancelled in 2010. In all the circumstances, allowing Stansted 12,000 night flights a year can no longer be justified.

Stansted handled just over 8,500 night flights last year – well below the Government limit. SSE is pressing for the limit to be reduced to 7,500 night flights from October 2014 and then further reduced by 500 flights each year until night flights are totally phased out. The recent announcement by British Airways that it pulling the plug on its cargo operations at Stansted means that reducing the number of permitted night flights at Stansted from 12,000 to 7,500 should now be easily achievable.

SSE’s submission also argues that those living in the vicinity of Stansted and under its flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which should mean a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions on night flights.

SSE has also highlighted the particular disturbance caused by night flights at Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels are generally very low. The submission also calls for an immediate ban on aircraft using reverse thrust at night except in emergencies.

Martin Peachey, SSE’s noise adviser, commented: “For years the Government has been promising that it will bear down on aircraft noise at night. However, night flights at Stansted are still increasing, not decreasing. It’s time to reverse that trend and set a firm timetable for phasing out night flights altogether.”

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