The Government climbed down over its plans to increase night flights at Heathrow in order to avoid defeat over key clauses of its Civil Aviation Bill in the House of Commons last night (1). Transport Minister Derek Twigg announced that the number of night flights between 11.30pm and 6am will remain at 16 per night for the next six years (2).
The surprise announcement helped rescue the Government from possible defeat in the House of Commons last night over a key clause in the Civil Aviation Bill. The clause to give the Government power to remove any limit on the number of night flights using Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports had been thrown in the Lords by a majority of 40 votes.
Last night the Government won the backing of the Commons to reinstate the clause after promising a limit on night flights would remain in place for six years and that any plans to lift it subsequently would be subject to full consultation.
Last night’s statement by the Minister said nothing about how many night flights may be using Heathrow between 6am and 7am. A full announcement will made later this month.
HACAN ClearSkies Chair John Stewart commented, “For our members, every night flight is one too many. We would like to see a complete ban. But this announcement is something of a climbdown. The Government had been talking about increasing night flights before 6am. It shows how much pressure it has been under from local residents and from an increasing number of MPs.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). Below is the DfT’s press release
Monday 8 May 2006 18:40
Department for Transport (National)
NIGHT-TIME MOVEMENTS LIMITS AT HEATHROW TO STAY THE SAME
Transport Minister Derek Twigg today announced that night-time movements limits at Heathrow to apply from October 2006 to October 2012 will not increase above existing limits.
Making the announcement to Parliament, Mr Twigg said:
“We have been considering the responses to the consultation on night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports and will announce our final conclusions by the end of the month. However, in order to remove uncertainty on an element which has given rise to concerns, I have decided not to increase night-time movements limits at Heathrow during the period 2006-2012.”
The stage 2 consultation paper on night flying restrictions to apply from October 2006 at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted was launched on 10 June 2005. It set out a proposed night noise regime to October 2012. At Heathrow it invited views on a proposal that the movements limits could be increased slightly if associated with reductions in noise quota per movement.
Notes to Editors:
1. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are the designated airports where noise is regulated by the Secretary of State under s.78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. The night restrictions form part of a range of controls applied under this section.
2. While different arrangements apply at other airports, the form of the designated airports’ controls might help with the consideration of revisions to the night flight regime elsewhere. Night flying restrictions at other airports are at the discretion of the airport operator, dependent on any local agreement (for example planning conditions).
3. There is a limit on the number of movements (take-offs and landings) that can occur between 11:30pm and 6:00am in each Winter and Summer scheduling season, these being demarcated by the dates when the clocks go back and forward. The movements limits are supported by noise quota controls, which are based on the noisiness of each type of aircraft as determined through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification system.
4. Decisions on all aspects in the consultation paper will be announced by the end of May. This includes specific movements limits and noise quotas at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as well as structural aspects of the regime.
5. The next night restrictions regime will start on 29 October 2006 and end on 28 October 2012.
(2). Every 5/6 year the Government enters into an agreement with the airlines on the number of night flights permitted between at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. The current agreement runs out in October 2006. At present 16 flights are permitted between 11.30pm and 6am. The Government, in its consultation for the regime from 2006 — 2012 has proposed increasing the number of flights to 18 per night between 11.30pm and 6am, with a bigger increase between 6am and 7am.
For further information contact
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650