15th November 2012
Time to call time on night flights
On the eve of next Saturday’s European Day of Action Against Night Flights (November 24), Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has renewed its call for a total ban on night flights.
Stansted is currently permitted by the Government to handle up to 12,000 night flights a year, between 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than double the number of night flights permitted at Heathrow (5,800) even though Heathrow is four times bigger than Stansted.
British Airways’ only flights from Stansted are its noisy ‘Super Jumbo’ Boeing 747-8 cargo aircraft which are permitted to fly in and out of the Essex airport 24 hours a day and are only based at Stansted because they are not allowed to be based at Heathrow.
In evidence submitted to the Government in connection with the current Aviation Policy Review SSE acknowledges that more people are affected by aircraft noise at night around Heathrow. However, it is exactly because of Stansted’s rural location that the impact on local residents trying to sleep is far worse because ambient noise levels at night are so much lower in the countryside compared to a city.
An independent study carried out last year at Heathrow showed that the cost of a total ban on night flights to business would be outweighed by savings made through the reduced costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise.
“The same logic would apply to Stansted”, said Martin Peachey, SSE’s noise adviser and one of the authors of the campaign group’s evidence to the Government’s Aviation Policy Review. Mr Peachey continued: “Many of those disturbed by night flight noise around Stansted are people who do vitally important jobs for the UK economy and society. The impact of night flight noise has been consistently underestimated and it’s time for the Government to set down a firm timetable for ending the misery of night flights.”
Another study, cited by SSE in its evidence, shows that among the health dangers of night flights is sleep disturbance that can seriously harm a child’s performance at school.
SSE’s evidence to Government on the damage from night flights will feature strongly in its submission to the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, which is likely to determine whether or not Stansted should be allowed to expand.
To mark European Day of Action Against Night Flights, demonstrations are planned for this week-end in major cities across Europe, including London, Paris and Frankfurt.
A key element of SSE’s submission to the Government is that “night should mean night” with a prohibition on night flights for the 8-hour period between 11.00pm and 7.00am, as opposed to the current 6½ hour restricted period from 11.30pm to 06.00am.