Night Flights scheme two months late

Council calls on the Government to ban early arrivals to Heathrow....

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Govt back down on Night Flight Consultation

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Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister has called on the transport secretary to include proposals for a complete ban on early morning arrivals at Heathrow in the next round of consultation on night flight arrangements.

The start of the second stage consultation on restrictions for next winter is now running more than two months late. Cllr Lister, in a letter to Alistair Darling, has also asked for an assurance that the normal three-month period allowed for responses will not be cut short.

The delay means that any new quotas might not be in place before the start of the winter season at end of October. In this case the existing restrictions would be extended for a further year.

The hold-up follows the Government's admission in court last December that it could take into account the real noise levels caused by flights landing at Heathrow before 6am when considering restrictions. The climbdown was forced by the council's revelation that the true noise level of 747-400s with Rolls Royce engines was 74 per cent higher than the prescribed limit.

Council leader Edward Lister said:

"The court action brought by Wandsworth and Richmond councils has put ministers on the spot. They now have to openly consider banning the noisier 747s or even signalling a complete end to night flights. It is beginning to look like this issue is being parked until after the election. If it is to be rushed out now, that should not be the excuse for short-cutting the normal three-month period.

"Last December's hearing has presented ministers with the opportunity to do something that will improve the night noise climate. If however we just get a hasty reworking of the existing quotas to allow
the same number of aircraft to fly it will be obvious that nothing has changed."


March 21, 2005