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New night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

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.

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