Number of Night Flights Set For Temporary Rise

BAA announces changes to airport operations in time for good weather

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People under the Heathrow flight path can expect more early morning flights this week following temporary changes to airport operations announced by BAA.

A number of arrivals that are normally scheduled after 6am will be brought forward. BAA says this will ease conditions during peak periods while air traffic controllers are switching to a new control tower.

Residents affected by night flights will notice the extra traffic between 5am and 6am from April 21. BAA says the changes will last for 'a few days.' If delays build up, a small number of arrivals and departures will also be permitted after 11.30pm.

Peter Thompson, leader of Hounslow Council, said, "These additional flights will be coming in at a time of year when many people will have their windows open so the noise nuisance will be greater. We will want to see all the extra flights counted against the night time quota. Although the changes have been introduced on a temporary basis we will be concerned if the disruption continues beyond the 'few days' promised."

Councillor Nicholas Botterill speaking on behalf of the 2M Group said, "Many of us are concerned that the environmental arguments for an end to night flights are being ignored by the airlines who continue to lobby for more slots in the early morning period. The pressure for extra capacity can only grow with the advent of the new Open Skies agreement."

Also this week local MP Greg Hands has tackled the government over the way in which they measure noise pollution from night flights. At Transport questions in the House of Commons Greg told Transport minister Gillian Merron that the governments approach to measuring the impact of noise from night flights was ‘flawed’.

The MP revealed that no measurements are taken of noise impact on some of the worst effected boroughs like Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow and Ealing and that the measurements apply only to take-offs and not to landings.

Hands added, “I am deeply concerned that the Government’s statistics on aircraft noise pollution do not take into account the effects on London Boroughs. Every week I receive complaints from residents who struggle with the current level of aircraft traveling to and from Heathrow. I shall be making representations to the government to ensure that local peoples concerns are addressed”

The number of night flights is currently controlled by a noise quota system. Last year local authorities led by 2M Group members forced the Government to back down on plans to remove existing limits on the number of night flights permitted to land at UK airports. The 2M Group is an alliance of 12 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. The group aims to present a common voice for the 2 million people whose quality of life is affected by Heathrow The 2M membership comprises the London Boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth, the boroughs of Slough, Spelthorne and Windsor and Maidenhead and South Bucks District Council.

April 24, 2007