Residents Near Heathrow Angry at Night Flight Extension

Government says current quota to remain in place for extra year

Andrew and Jane Melville live near Heathrow Airport
Andrew and Jane Melville live near Heathrow Airport

Sleepless residents are demanding an end to night time Heathrow airplane noise, which starts as early as 4:30am.

A government quota currently allows 16 flights to land at Heathrow Airport between 4:30am and 6am.

Nearby residents are outraged that this quota will continue until 2025, one year longer than originally promised in a public consultation.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says this decision, announced in their Night Flight Restrictions decision in July, is due to the unprecedented effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on aviation.

Andrew Melville, who has lived in Harmondsworth with his wife Jane since 1978, has had enough of early morning aircraft noise and landings.

He said: “It’s just ridiculous what’s going on, as residents we’re like mushrooms, we’re kept in the dark and fed s***.

“All the government does is listen to the aviation industry.

“I would have liked them not to kick the can down the road on this consultation period, hiding behind the pandemic and all of this.

“They’ve come up with this stuff, in their summary, about the fairness approach, but for whom?

“It’s certainly not for our community suffering sleepless nights.”

Some in the consultation argue a World Health Organisation (WHO) report recommends a minimum of eight hours sleep each night.

But in the decision document the DfT argued that the WHO report only looks at the impacts of having less than eight hours sleep a night.

Campaigner Robert Barnstone, from Stop Heathrow Expansion, says public consultations on night flights have been “massively delayed” and could have happened as early as 2015.

He continued, “One year might not sound like a long time, but that’s 5,000 flights a year, and 16 flights a night, which is a lot of times to be disturbed per night.

“It’s a complete nightmare, all this talk of 2025, none of that was proposed in the consultation.

“We engaged in that process with good faith, unfortunately they’ve completely pulled it from under our feet.

“We thought this would be a real attempt to understand the disbenefits of night flights, and of sleep benefits, for the first time since 2006.

“So far they’ve made a complete wreck of it.”

A DfT spokesperson said, “Extending the night flight consultation allows more time to develop a better evaluation of the costs and benefits, as called for by community groups, whilst also taking into account the changing landscape resulting from the aviation sector’s pandemic recovery.

“Listening to feedback calling for reduced night noise levels for local residents, we’ve already taken action, implementing changes to take the noisiest aircraft out of operation during the night quota period.”

Heathrow Airport claims to have some of the “strictest restrictions” of any hub airport in Europe in terms of night movements, and a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights from landing before 4:30am.

It also says any decision to roll over existing night flight and noise restrictions are made by the government.

Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter


August 24, 2021