| Press Release - 25 July 2006
GOVERNMENT CONCEDES ON NIGHT FLIGHTS NUMBERS CAP
The Government has conceded defeat in its attempts to remove the limits on
night flight numbers at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick which it had been
seeking through the Civil Aviation Bill.
The news came in a letter from Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman to
Conservative Shadow Transport Spokesman Chris Grayling dated 20 July. It
follows intensive lobbying by groups including Stop Stansted Expansion,
coupled with cross party opposition to the Government's proposals in the
House of Lords where Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council, has
spearheaded the fight to protect local residents by retaining the limit on
the number of night flights.
The Government had been attempting to move towards a weighted 'noise quota'
system alone to assess and limit the disturbance caused by night flights
without the added check as at present of a limit on the actual number of
aircraft flying between the hours of 11.30pm and 6am at the UK's three
largest airports. The House of Lords defeated the proposal on three
separate occasions and the Aviation Minister has now made clear that the
Government will not try to reinstate the clause calling for powers to remove
the movements cap when the Bill completes its passage through Parliament in
Reliance on the noise quota count system would have disregarded the very
substantial impacts which frequent overflying has in areas with low
background noise. Virtually all night flights using Stansted disturb the
peace over vast swathes of rural Essex, Herts and Suffolk, hence the
importance of retaining limits on the number of night flights as well as the
aggregate noise output.
Commenting on the news, Stop Stansted Expansion's Acting Chairman Norman
Mead said: "The Government's acceptance of the need to retain overall
limits on the number of night flights at Stansted is welcome news but it
doesn't solve the problem caused by the current number of night flights, nor
does it address the prospect of vastly increased levels in the future as
allowed even under current night flying limits. We must remain vigilant to
the likelihood that the levels of permitted flights at Stansted could simply
be raised in the next night flying restrictions period, from 2012."
Stansted already suffers 8370 night flights annually during the 6.5 hour
restricted 'night' period (based on figures to 31 March 2006) an average
of 23 flights nightly with the possibility of an increase of 43 percent
within the currently permitted limits of 12,000 flights annually over the
next six years.
Speaking from the Palace of Westminster, Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan
Haselhurst added: "This is a very helpful development and we owe a great
deal of gratitude to the pressure applied by Lord Hanningfield and others in
the House of Lords. Today's news shows that it is possible to win one or
two skirmishes with the Government."
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, Stop Stansted Expansion: M 0777 552 3091 and email@example.com