Campaigners call for night flights ban

By Dave GooderhamCAMPAIGNERS fighting against the planned expansion of Stansted Airport have called for a complete ban on night-time flying over their homes.

By Dave Gooderham

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against the planned expansion of Stansted Airport have called for a complete ban on night-time flying over their homes.

Members of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group have made the demand after learning levels of flying at the airport at night could increase to up to 12,000 flights a year.

Suffolk county councillors will be urged next week to endorse plans to “actively encourage” the use of quieter aircraft at the airport at night, but the long-suffering residents said this did not go far enough.

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Group member Brian Howell said: “We are against an increase in movement and in noise levels as the two are highly connected.

“This increase in flying at night has been inflicted and imposed upon us and there are now more night flights than ever before.

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“We would like to see a complete ban on night flights - it is bad enough during the day without being woken up during the night as well.”

Mr Howell said the group has carried out independent monitoring, which it claimed proved the situation was already unbearable.

But council bosses warned Suffolk might have to endure an increase in night flights to coincide with any Stansted expansion.

“This is a very big issue for the county of Suffolk. The London airport situation is encroaching on us step-by-step and everyone needs to be aware of what is happening and that it will only get worse,” said Mr Howell.

“Though people say the Government are trying to compromise between the campaigners and the airline companies, they are not even getting close.

“They are only serving the interests of the various airlines and the businesses associated to the airlines. They are not consulting the people on the ground who have to suffer this imposition.”

Members of Suffolk County Council's cabinet will discuss the Department for Transport's consultation document on Tuesday.

In a report, members have been asked to endorse the use of quieter aircraft - utilising more modern aviation technology - and to extend the recognised night-time flying hours from six-and-a-half-hours to eight.

Mel Fleming, the council's development policy manager, said the present limit on aircraft movement was 12,000 a year - but this was not currently being maximised, allowing the possibility of a future increase.

He added: “There is a likelihood there will be some increase in the number of night flying, which is probably expected given the expansion to Stansted.

“Given current Government policy, it is impossible to say we will have no aircrafts at night, but this consultation is trying to reach a compromise and we feel the use of quieter aircraft at night should be actively encouraged.”

A spokesman for Stansted Airport declined to comment on the meeting and the consultation process until it had formulated its response to the Government.

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