17th January 2017
Make your voice heard – Stansted night flights consultation
Following the publication last week of Government proposals for the regulation of night flights at Stansted Airport over the next five years, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is urging local district, parish and town councils and individual local residents to make their voice heard and help reduce the noise impacts of night-time flights in and out of Stansted.
Stansted currently has permission for 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. SSE has long argued to the Government that night flights have a far greater impact on local residents around Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels at night are generally very low.
Furthermore, the 12,000 annual limit applies only to the 6½ hours from 11.30pm to 6.00am whereas the normal definition of ‘night’ is the 8 hours from 11.00pm to 7.00am. Moreover, a large number of Stansted’s night flights are large, noisy cargo aircraft, many of which are very old. Unsurprisingly, these give rise to a disproportionately high level of noise complaints.
The Government proposes to maintain the present night limit on aircraft movements at Stansted whilst at the same time removing the current exemption for less noisy aircraft and adjusting the movements limit accordingly. This aspect of the Government’s proposals is welcome since the number of exempt aircraft has been increasing at Stansted Airport in recent years and all aircraft movements at night – the least noisy as well as the most noisy – create noise nuisance and cause widespread sleep disturbance for local residents.
SSE’s main criticism of the Government’s latest night flights proposals is that they do not go nearly far enough to tackle the very serious impacts of night flights in terms of sleep disturbance for local residents around Stansted and under flight paths.
SSE is calling for:
* An unequivocal Government commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030, except in the case of genuine emergencies;
* In the meantime, for 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;
* A radical overhaul of the current ‘averaging’ method for measuring aircraft noise so that the official Government noise statistics start to represent what people actually have to endure;
* An immediate ban on all night time aircraft landings at Stansted from using reverse thrust, except in the case of genuine emergencies.
The Government consultation document – Night flight restrictions at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted – can be seen here.
Responses need to be submitted by 28 February 2017.
The new night flights regulations for Stansted are expected to come into force in October 2017 and to apply until October 2022.
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