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Insufficient evidence of night flights’ economic benefits, AEF highlights

16th September, 2021

AEF responds to Part 2 of night flight consultation

AEF has responded to Part 2 of the Government’s consultation on night flight restrictions and wider night noise policy which closed earlier this month. The key points raised in our response are set out below. To read our full consultation response, click here.

  • Night flight regimes should not be in place for longer than five years under any circumstance in order to allow opportunities for such regimes to be reviewed.
  • There is sufficient evidence to suggest that disturbed sleep from night flights has an adverse impact on health, including increasing the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. AEF members have also described poor concentration and feelings of depression as a result of aviation night noise. 
  • Given the Government’s recognition of the public health costs of night flights, every opportunity should be taken to reduce aircraft noise at night, and night flights should be phased out over a five-year period to allow for a full eight-hour night period as defined by the World Health Organisation.
  • The trend in logistics companies taking up older aircraft repurposed for cargo operations means that those who live near airports that focus on cargo operations are unlikely to experience benefits from the uptake of quieter passenger aircraft.
  • Given uncertainty around industry investment in quieter aircraft and future technological advances, the Government should not create policy based on assumptions about future technologies.
  • The Government has failed to provide sufficient evidence in regard to the claimed economic and consumer benefits of night flights. 

Insufficient evidence of night flights’ economic benefits

The Government states that there should be “a balance between the local and national economic and consumer benefits of night flights”, although no evidence has been provided by the Government to support these claimed benefits. Recently, York Aviation published a report commissioned by industry in which it set out a number of claims about the economic value of night flights to airlines, airports, and the wider economy. To assess these findings, the Aviation Environment Trust commissioned a study from New Economics Foundation. NEF found that York Aviation’s assessment fails to take into account critical economic impacts in the domains of noise, greenhouse gases, and outbound tourism. Furthermore, “York Aviation’s estimates of business productivity impacts are dramatically overstated, out of step with the latest academic research, and contain methodological vulnerabilities which have not been sensitivity tested”, NEF found. For the full report, click here.

Government response to Part 1 of night flight consultation dismisses community concerns

In July, the Government published its response to Part 1 of the consultation. We believe the Government’s decision has serious shortcomings, and is likely to have eroded community trust and confidence in its engagement exercise. To read AEF’s full analysis of the Government’s response to Part 1 of the consultation, click here