London

Heathrow Airport night flights 'disturb sleep and should stop'

Aeroplane
Image caption About 70% of night flights arriving at Heathrow come in from an easterly direction

Overnight flights which disturb Londoners' sleep should be stopped or reduced, the London Assembly has said.

It wants flights banned or an overnight mandatory curfew introduced at the very least - and a split between planes arriving from the east and west.

The assembly was responding to a government consultation into night flights ahead of renewing its policy in 2014.

The Department for Transport said it would consider the response.

'Quality of life'

The government currently limits the number of night flights, places restrictions on the noisiest aircraft and sets noise quotas - but these regulations need to be renewed.

Murad Qureshi, from the assembly's Environment Committee, said: "It is unacceptable that thousands of Londoners are unable to get a good night's sleep.

"Heathrow is very critical to the local economy, but what we have to do is manage this trade-off between economic benefits and people's quality of life."

About 15 flights land at Heathrow between 23:30 and 06:00, the majority after 04:30, with about 70% arriving from the east.

Reduced schedules

The assembly said splitting arrivals between east and west would reduce noise for about 110,000 people in areas like Isleworth, Richmond and Hounslow, but increase it for 15,600 living in parts of Windsor, Datchet and Stanwell Moor.

John Stewart, from Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, said: "That's not so good for the people of Windsor, but of course far fewer people live on that side of Heathrow, so a lot of Londoners would benefit."

As part of the consultation the assembly has also proposed that airports consider "reducing scheduled daytime movements" so fewer delayed aircraft would fly at night.

In a statement, the Department for Transport, said: "The Government recognises that noise disturbance from aircraft flying at night is the least acceptable impact of airport operations on local residents.

"At this stage we are gathering evidence on what might be feasible and have taken no decisions yet on our preferences."

The consultation, which also includes Gatwick and Stansted Airports, closes on 22 April.

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