Fury at night flights action delay

By Sharon AsplinCAMPAIGNERS have condemned the Government for postponing action to address problems of sleep disturbance caused by night flights to Stansted Airport.

By Sharon Asplin

CAMPAIGNERS have condemned the Government for postponing action to address problems of sleep disturbance caused by night flights to Stansted Airport.

New controls on night flights at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports were due to be introduced in October 2004 and have already been delayed for 12 months.

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion said yesterday's announcement by the Department of Transport of a further 12-month postponement was bad news for people who were repeatedly subjected to sleep interruption because of night flights.

Carol Barbone, campaign director, said Stansted Airport already had the second highest permitted number of night flights in the country.

"For the Government to announce another year's extension to the current night flying arrangements at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is a cynical betrayal of its promises," she added.

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"The Air Transport White Paper made a commitment to bear down on the problem of night flights and this delay is nothing more than a disgraceful surrender to the interests of the aviation industry at the expense of local communities.

"We will be taking legal advice on whether the Government can unilaterally keep avoiding the issue of night noise by granting the industry annual extensions to the existing night flights quotas."

The Government intends to maintain existing controls until October 2006, with a consultation document detailing proposals for night restrictions covering the six-year period from the end of the summer season 2006.

Environmental and specific noise abatement objectives for each of the airports were also set out and views will be sought on whether to extend the length of the night quota period.

Aviation minister Karen Buck said: "We have concluded that it is necessary to continue the existing controls for a further 12 months.

"This will give us time to consult widely over the next three months about the measures we are proposing and to consider the responses to the consultation before taking decisions about the next six-year period.

"We will consider all the responses very carefully and we will welcome views in as much detail as possible, especially from those most closely involved, to help the Government come to a fair and balanced decision on the package of controls."


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