Kent County Council has asked the government to reduce the number of night flights coming in and going out from Gatwick Airport as the UK comes out of lockdown.
This is in response to the Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.
KCC has said that the current number of night flights – pre pandemic – is unacceptable and the DfT should reduce the night movement limit at Gatwick to at least a level that is comparable with Heathrow.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “If a complete ban on night flights was to be introduced at Heathrow as part of their third runway proposals then I see no reason why a ban on night flights should not be applied to all London airports so that all are treated equally, and so that all communities across the South East could benefit from future additional capacity.
“It is the view of KCC that the Department for Transport need to impose greater restrictions on the number of night flights so that a true reduction results for all the affected communities, rather than a continuation of the intolerable situation at present.”
KCC’s response also disagrees with the suggestion that existing night flight restrictions should be maintained for a further two years to October 2024.
KCC highlighted that residents will have benefitted from much quieter skies during the pandemic and any return to previous levels will be more noticeable and the noise generated from night flights will be much more disturbing.
It also made the points that:
- KCC agrees with the proposal to ban some of the loudest aircraft – such as a Boeing 747-400 – operating between 11.30pm and 6am, but has asked the DfT to go further and extend the ban to cover the entire night time period between 11pm and 7am
- the next night flight regime beyond 2024 should be set for a three-year period to allow the aviation industry to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and for work to be progressed on Heathrow’s third runway proposals
- night flights should be limited by both quota count – the system used to limit the amount of noise generated by aircraft movements at night – and the number of aircraft movements
- airports should not be allowed to carry over a proportion of unused noise quota and movement quota
- the Department for Transport should utilise the unique opportunity that it currently has to adopt a more sustainable and fair approach to aviation throughout the COVID-19 recovery of the industry
- the Department for Transport must consider the impact of aircraft emissions and include the decarbonisation of aircraft within its long-term policies and objectives
You can read the agenda item from today’s Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee here.