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An AEF win: London Plan supports phasing out of night flights and continued mixed mode at Heathrow

3rd November, 2011

The London Plan (the spatial strategy for the capital) was launched on 29th September. AEF gave evidence at the ‘examination in public’ of the draft plan, and was invited to the launch event.

In relation to Heathrow, AEF had argued that the Plan should oppose mixed mode operation and should support the phasing out of night flights. We are glad to see our comments reflected in the published plan as follows:

” .. [The London Mayor] agrees with the Government that the noise problems and poor air quality at Heathrow have reached such levels that further increases in the number of air traffic movements there are untenable. He supports the Government statement of 7 September 2010 opposing mixed-mode operations and supporting runway alteration, westerly preference and related measures to mitigate noise effects on local communities. He also supports phasing out of scheduled air traffic movements during the night-time quota period. Thus, there is a need for a thorough reappraisal of airport policy in the south-east of England.”

Representations on City airport were, however, discounted. Whereas concerns about the impacts of Heathrow – which are mainly on west London – are subject to strong statements in the Plan, there was no desire apparent to protect east London from the increasing impacts of City airport.

We are also disappointed about inclusion of the statement .. [The Mayor] does recognise the need for additional runway capacity in the south-east of England.” This was challenged by AEF and others on the grounds there was no evidence or references to back it up. We also said that it was generalised statement about regional aviation policy and thus not appropriate for the London Plan.

The panel of inspectors had agreed with us that the statement should be deleted. The Mayor responded, however: “it is the Mayor’s view, based on robust evidence, that there is a need for additional runway capacity in the south-east.” Still, no evidence was provided. Central government, which had the final say, chose not to overrule the Mayor on this point.