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New night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

June 7, 2006

The government has announced the new ‘Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted’. These will apply from winter 2006/07 to summer 2012.

On 6 June 06, the government announced the new ‘Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted’. These will apply from winter 2006/07 to summer 2012.

There are some modest changes from the present regime and some things stay the same:

  • The definition of night stays the same.
  • The noisiest planes – ‘QC4’ – will have a scheduling ban imposed.
  • A new band – ‘QC/0.25′ – will be introduced to capture quieter planes that were previously exempt.
  • The ‘noise quota’ will be reduced progressively over the next 6 years by between 1% and 13% according to airport and season.
  • The current limits on movements will be retained (but see below).

The new regime is something of a relief, particularly for people living near Heathrow.

The government had earlier forced through a clause in the Civil Aviation Bill which allowed it to dispense with any limit on movements and rely just on the noise quota. We understand the government did a deal with the rebel Labour MPs who had opposed this change in 2005. If exchange for their acquiesence on the principle of getting rid of a movements limit, they would keep them in operation until the next review period (2012/13).

The deal seems to have been successful for the government. There were only 6 rebel Labour MP and only two are anywhere near the airports (Heathrow).

Voting with the government, ie in favour of removing the limits were:
Piara Khabra – Ealing Southall
Ann Keen – Brentford & Isleworth
Alan Keen – Feltham & Heston
Tony McNulty – Harrow East
Gareth Thomas – Harrow West

Voting against the government were:
John Mcdonnell – Hayes & Harlington
Jeremy Corbyn – Islington North

Not present or did not vote were:
Steve Pound – Ealing North
Andrew Slaughter – Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush
Dawn Butler – Brent South

Conservatives and LibDems all voted against the removal of a movements limit.

Overall, this is fairly good news in the short term. A phasing out of night flights is what most people wanted, but this this was not realistically expected and there were fears that with this government’s pro-industry bias, the regime could have become worse.

In the medium to long term it is bad news.
The government has left a ‘time bomb’ of unlimited night flights which could go off in 2012 even if the present government and MPs have gone. It has gratuitously given the industry a major advantage over local residents when the next review comes up.