16th April 2018

Stansted to press for more night flights

Stansted Airport is seeking to overturn legal conditions which for the last 15 years have prevented it from lobbying Government for more night flights.

The discovery has been made by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) within the airport’s current planning application seeking permission for an annual throughput of 43 million passengers, an increase of 66% compared to the 25.9 million passengers handled in 2017.

The change being sought by Stansted’s owners, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), is buried deep within the planning application in Appendix D of the Planning Statement. This sets out proposed conditions that would accompany any approval of the application. MAG wants to remove the present restriction which prevents Stansted Airport lobbying Government for more night flights. The restriction is enshrined in a Section 106 agreement dating back to 2003 when Stansted was given permission to grow from 15 million passengers a year (mppa) to 25mppa.

The discovery by SSE of this hidden bombshell would not have been possible had SSE not insisted that more time was needed to study the 2,930-page planning application, which is being rushed through under a ‘fast track’ agreement between MAG and Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In all their summaries and press releases explaining what this planning application is all about, neither UDC nor MAG has ever made any mention of this hidden proposal aimed at increasing night flights.

The move has been branded by SSE as a clandestine attempt to betray the community given that thousands of local residents already suffer from the misery of sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights.

“For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said the campaign group’s noise adviser Martin Peachey. “Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next ten years as a condition of expansion.”

The long haul and freight aircraft which MAG is hoping to attract to Stansted, typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there, would also exacerbate the present disturbance suffered. If MAG succeeded in having the present restrictions on night flights relaxed, the floodgates could rapidly open to a noise nightmare with the community suffering even more if the planning application were to be approved.

SSE is advising those concerned about the proposed overturning of the night flights restriction to make representations by email (including full name and address) to Uttlesford District Council at stanstedairportplanningapplication@uttlesford.gov.uk before 30 April, quoting reference UTT/18/0460/FUL.


1. A screenshot of the section within Appendix D of the Planning Statement which seeks to exclude the restriction on lobbying for any relaxation of night flight can be viewed here.

2. Stansted Airport is presently allowed 13,700 night flights per annum compared to a maximum of 5,700 per annum at Heathrow. SSE believes that three key demands need to be met to improve conditions for those who are currently overflown at night:

• An unequivocal Government commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030, except in the case of genuine emergencies
• The annual limit on Stansted night flights to apply, not just from 11.30pm to 6.00am, but from 11.00pm to 7.00am, so that ‘night’ truly means ‘night’, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Guidelines on Community Noise
• An immediate ban on all night time aircraft landings at Stansted from using reverse thrust, except in the case of genuine emergencies.

• Martin Peachey, SSE noise adviser: 01279 870374; (M) 07803 603999 mfpeachey1@gmail.com
• Brian Ross, SSE deputy chairman: 01279 814540; (M) 07850 937143 brian.ross@lineone.net
• SSE Campaign Office, T 01279 870558; info@stanstedairportwatch.com

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