Campaigners and noise-blighted south-east London residents are furious at the government extending existing Heathrow night planes rules for three years

Campaigners are furious at the Government for extending the existing night flights schedule which they say will hit residents living under Heathrow’s flight-paths.

A resident-led campaign group has branded ‘gutless’ the Department of Transport’s failure to curtail the number of aircraft flying over south-east London.

Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley and Bexley are particularly badly affected because the west London flight-paths are varied during the course of any given day – but that does not happen in south-east London.

At Heathrow, 5,800 flights are permitted throughout the year within the restricted period of 1pm–6am – there are roughly 16 a night on average, mostly arriving from 4.30-6am.

Many fly over London from as early as 4am.

The current schedule was due to expire in October 2022 following a consultation earlier this year about continuing the current timetable for two years ea long-term policy review was conducted.

But the government had decided existing arrangements will be rolled over for three years rather than two to allow enough time to “properly inform and develop a new evidence-based night noise regime.

This is because of a change in the government’s view on the pace and trajectory of the aviation sector’s recovery”.

But campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion says night flights at Heathrow cause major disturbance to sleep for large numbers of people under flight paths.

They want them banned from 11pm-7am so families can get eight hours sleep each night, in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.

They accuse ministers of using the pandemic as an excuse to delay long term reform to night flights.

They also want reviews into night flights to take account of the mental and physical health against any supposed economic

benefits of night flights claimed by the aviation industry.

Tim Walker

Tim Walker, 63, from Forest Hill, is retired marketing manager and counsellor and a keen allotment gardener who enjoys walking, baking bread, swimming, and the outdoors.

He said: “I am very disappointed, but not surprised by the government which shows no sign of consideration for overflown, and noise-affected Londoners. The government has missed a crucial opportunity to improve the sleep health of Londoners by signalling any intent to rein in night flights with their attendant noise.

“These flights could have been redistributed into currently vacant daytime slots. Instead, it looks as though overflown and sleep deprived communities will have to endure night and very early morning wake ups for another three years before any relief is considered.”

David More of Brunswick Villas, Camberwell said: “I have lived here on and off since 1988. But now there is not a lot of time for peace. Some jets are very noisy some less so but a continuous low roar and whistling as they descend into Heathrow.

“Some days I avoid gardening and in hot weather I am unable to open the windows without constant and disturbing plane noise.

“In the face of climate change, the aviation industry has been let off the hook and has not done much to mitigate pollution or noise in my area.”

Geraldine Nicholson

Geraldine Nicholson from campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “This is a gutless move on the part of the Government. Communities around Heathrow who both need and deserve a decent night’s sleep need night flights to end now, not in three years’ time.

“We were not consulted on an extension. We were consulted on what should happen between 2022 and 2024. An extension of current arrangements to 2024 was not palatable for the majority of residents. Another year is totally unacceptable.

This decision makes a mockery of public consultation if the Government only takes into account the view of the aviation industry.

“The pandemic cannot be used in this context as an excuse for a process which was due to change some years ago. It is a failure of policymakers that three more years of this regime means less sleep and detrimental health impacts to those on the ground.”

Bridget Bell, from Walworth, said: “For another four years we will now have to continue with just five precious hours per night of so-called respite from aircraft noise. But five hours is not nearly for me to function as a human being.

I feel depressed to the state of tears if I awake during the night. I dread going to bed.

“This decision is awful. Our local MPs and government need to take more notice of residents like me who are so badly impacted. It cannot continue, particularly with the prospect of 700 more flights each day if a third runway were ever to happen.”

Geraldine Nicholson (pictured blue dotted top with badge) from local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “This is a gutless move on the part of the Government. Communities around Heathrow who both need and deserve a decent night’s sleep need night flights to end now, not in three years’ time.

“We were not consulted on an extension. We were consulted on what should happen between 2022 and 2024. An extension of current arrangements to 2024 was not palatable for the majority of residents another year is totally unacceptable.

“This decision makes a mockery of public consultation if the Government only takes into account the view of the aviation industry.

“The pandemic cannot be used in this context as an excuse for a process which was due to change some years ago. It is a failure of policymakers that three more years of this regime means less sleep and detrimental health impacts to those on the ground.”

David More of Camberwell, said: “I have lived here on and off since 1988. But now there is not a lot of time for peace. Some jets are very noisy some less so but a continuous low roar and whistling as they descend into Heathrow.

“Some days I avoid gardening and in hot weather I am unable to open the windows without constant and disturbing plane noise.

“In the face of climate change, the aviation industry has been let off the hook and has not done much to mitigate pollution or noise in my area.”

Chelsea & Fulham MP Greg Hands has called repeatedly on Heathrow to adjust its schedule.

A consultation on long term night flights policy beyond 2025 closes on September 3.

The Department of Transport said time must be allowed for the sector to recover to enable an accurate analysis of the benefits of night flights and the negative impacts for communities.

The restrictions which are currently in place for another three years – but the nosiest aircraft currently  will be banned during this period.

A DfT spokesperson said: “Extending the night flight consultation allows more time to develop a better evaluation of the costs and benefits, as called for by community groups, whilst also taking into account the changing landscape resulting from the aviation sector’s pandemic recovery.

“Listening to feedback calling for reduced night noise levels for local residents, we’ve already taken action, implementing changes to take the noisiest aircraft out of operation during the night quota period.”

The government says the three-year extension will allow it to develop a more meaningful evaluation of the costs and benefits of night flights – as called for in consultation responses from community groups – taking into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extent and speed with which aviation demand returns.

Time must be allowed for the sector to recover to enable an accurate analysis of the benefits of night flights and associated negative impacts for communities.

A DfT spokesperson said:“Extending the night flight consultation allows more time to develop a better evaluation of the costs and benefits, as called for by community groups, whilst also taking into account the changing landscape resulting from the aviation sector’s pandemic recovery.

“Listening to feedback calling for reduced night noise levels for local residents, we’ve already taken action, implementing changes to take the noisiest aircraft out of operation during the night quota period.”

 

 

 


 

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One thought on “Campaigners and noise-blighted south-east London residents are furious at the government extending existing Heathrow night planes rules for three years

  • 27 August 2021 at 16:39
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    Great, the misery of living under a concentrated flight path perfectly clearly spelt out – thank you Toby Porter.

    Reply

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