Greg Hands MP’s Submission to Night Flights Consultation

On 23 February, Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands made his submission to the Department for Transport’s public consultation on night flight restrictions at Heathrow Airport and other London airports. Greg reiterated his belief that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow Airport in order to lessen the detrimental impact on the hundreds of thousands of Londoners – including his constituents in Chelsea & Fulham – who live beneath Heathrow’s flight path.
 
Greg is encouraging his constituents to make their views heard on night flights and the Department for Transport’s two other public consultations on the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport, and reforming UK airspace at the following websites:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-gatwick-heathrow-and-stansted
 
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/heathrow-expansion-draft-airports-national-policy-statement
 
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reforming-policy-on-the-design-and-use-of-uk-airspace

Greg’s submission follows:

 

The Lord Ahmad
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR
 
27 February 2017
 
Dear Tariq,
 
Submission to the Consultation on Night Flight Restrictions at Heathrow Airport
 
As the Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, I welcome the opportunity once again to make known my concerns about night flights by responding to this new consultation. I shall only make reference to night flight restrictions at Heathrow Airport, as it is Heathrow which has a direct negative impact on my constituents.
 
For the past twenty-seven years, I have lived beneath the Heathrow flight path and, like many hundreds of thousands of Londoners, I am frequently woken up by aircraft noise. These Londoners have jobs to do and families to look after, for which they require a good night’s sleep. Accordingly, not only are people losing sleep because of being disturbed by aircraft noise during the night, but their daily lives are being indirectly affected by it.
 
Essentially, my belief remains the same as during the previous consultation: that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow Airport between 11pm and 6am.
 
I should like to take this opportunity to draw your attention once again to the evidence from the World Heath Organization,[1] the Civil Aviation Authority,[2] and the British Medical Journal,[3] on the detrimental impact on health of sustained sleep deprivation as a result of aircraft noise. I note that the Department for Transport does make reference to similar studies in its consultation document, reminding us that the Department is indeed aware of the risks to health posed by sleep disturbance as a result of night flights.
 
I am also aware that one of the key arguments for night flights involves the convenience for passengers travelling from destinations in the Far East – such as Hong Kong and Singapore – who would otherwise have to board their flights after midnight. I understand that business between London and the Far East is very important. Nevertheless, I gather that Frankfurt Airport – the fourth busiest airport in Europe – since 4 April 2012 has banned night flights between 11pm and 5am. Moreover, I am aware that several flights from Singapore at least do not take off until 1am, establishing a precedent that such flights can indeed take off after midnight.
 
I find it unacceptable, therefore, that the convenience, quality of sleep, and health of millions of residents in London and the wider South East under the flight path is sacrificed for the sake of a few thousand inbound passengers per night.
 
I recognise that your proposals are separate from the Government’s preferred option for the expansion of airport capacity in the South East by means of a third runway at Heathrow, and that they are concerned specifically with night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted from October 2017 for a period of five years to 2022. I should like to question your reference to bespoke arrangements “that reflect specific local circumstances” that might come into effect before October 2022. What exactly might these entail?
 
The sixteen flights per night at Heathrow is still sixteen flights too many.[4] Accordingly, while I welcome the Department’s stated intention not to decrease the current restrictions but to encourage the use of quieter aircraft, I remain convinced that there should be a comprehensive ban on night flights at Heathrow Airport between 11pm and 6am.
 
Yours sincerely,
 

The Rt Hon. Greg Hands MP
Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham