Aviation Minister Resigns

Karen Buck quits weeks before controversial announcements expected on night flights and runway alternation

Karen Buck, the Aviation Minister, will resign on Monday. The resignation comes just weeks before she was due to make controversial announcements on night flights and runway alternation at Heathrow. Although Ms Buck said that her resignation was not due to any disillusionment with government transport policy, she was known to be unhappy with her aviation brief for some time.

Before the end of March the Department of Transport will announce its future plans for night flights at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick (1). The Department is also expected to embark on its controversial plans to end runway alternation at Heathrow over the next few weeks (2).

John Stewart, Chair HACAN ClearSkies, said, “There have been rumours for some time now that Karen Buck was not comfortable with her aviation brief. If she has decided to go before she had to make announcements that could well result in more planes using Heathrow, we applaud that decision.”

Karen Buck has said that she wants now to work on the London Poverty Commission.


Notes for Editors:

(1). Every 5/6 years the Government enters into an agreement with the airlines into how many flights will be permitted at the UK’s three designated airports — Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick — between 11.30pm and 6am. The current agreement runs out in October 2006. An announcement is expected before the end of March in order to allow the airlines 6 months to re-adjust their schedules. In its consultation on night flights the Government was proposing a slight increase in night flights at Heathrow — to rise from 16 a night to 18 over the next few years, with a bigger increase between 6am and 7am.

(2). At present planes landing over West London switch runways at 3pm to allow people in the worst affected areas a half day’s break from the noise. This is known as runway alternation. The Department for Transport has indicated that a 3 month consultation on its plans to end runway alternation will be published shortly.

For further information contact John Stewart on 07957385650 or 0207 737 6641