Agenda item

Government Consultation on Night Flights Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports beyond 2024, plus National Night Flights policy.

To consider Government consultation on night flight restrictions beyond 2024, plus national flights policy.


The Senior Planning Policy Officer presented the report and highlighted the following:-

·         The report had been revised from 19th May 2021 and paragraphs 1 to 8 had been updated.

·         An extended deadline had been negotiated with the Department for Transport and therefore the Council’s submission was now due on 1st October 2021.  This gave extra time to take into account the SoNA Sleep Study published on 22nd July 2021.

·         The existing night flight policy had been rolled forward for 3 years to enable a fuller review.

·         The comments made by the Panel at the last meeting had been incorporated in paragraphs, 23, 50 and 59.

·         The SoNA Sleep Study had been added as a separate Appendix C.


The Senior Planning Policy Officer recommended that the Panel considered the response; provided changes and additions and then endorsed the report in principle to go forward to Cabinet by the 1st October 2021.


There was a long discussion with questions from Members to the Senior Planning Policy Officer and the following comments were made:-

·         There was more capacity during the day, post Covid which put pressure on the industry to move night flights to the day.

·         The Senior Planning Policy Officeragreed that the airline industry needed to provide more details on the economic benefits of flying and night flights in particular.  This would enable a proper assessment of what the benefits were and who was benefitting - the local and national economy or other countries’ economies.

·         He agreed to stress that it was those in the community living under the flight paths that were particular affected by night flights.

·         The response stressed that the carry over of movement limits from the winter to the summer should stop, as it was unfair for local residents to suffer.

·         The airline industry needed to come up with a robust business model so that dispensations were used correctly and only for real emergencies.

·         Further work from the SoNA study should include an analysis of the effects night flights had on different age groups. 

·         He agreed with Members that there was a need for further scrutiny on the detail in paragraph 22 regarding dispensations.

·         The Senior Planning Policy Officersaid that one of the responses did support the extension of the night flight quota period to the full 8 hours including a time when no flights would be allowed. 

·         Noise from night flights was an issue for a large proportion of the District.

·         The consultation contained too many ‘judgement’ decisions with no consistency, hard facts, or formulae for the rationale stated.

·         There were no plans to update the cargo planes which were generally the oldest, noisiest and most polluting.

·         There were many broad statements in the consultation that needed to be more defined, for example in paragraph 53, to specify what technology would reduce aircraft noise. The Panel felt strongly that the Government needed to be held to account.

·         In paragraph 36, the Government were looking at banning noisy aircraft and the Council should strongly support this. 

·         The pricing issue of slots and it being cheaper to fly at night was included in the report as a way of controlling night flights by having a differential pricing policy.  The Senior Planning Policy Officer agreed to check that it had been included. 


The Panel agreed that the most important message to convey was that the preferred option was for no night flights between 11pm to 7am except for dispensations.


Councillor LeCount joined the meeting at 7:45pm


Councillor LeCount said that he had circulated a report from the Government via e-mail which maintained the current night flight restrictions to October 2024 and he was not sure what could actually now be achieved.


In response to Members comments the Director of Public Services said that the point of responding to these consultations was to provide a broader picture.  He said the responses showed the ongoing concern about aircraft noise from residents, and that together with responses from other organisations it had a cumulative impact and would gradually result in a shift in the Government’s position.



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