THE Airports Commission plans to recommend more than double the number of night flights into Heathrow from next year, the 2M Group of councils has revealed.
Leader of Ealing Council and 2M spokesman, Cllr Julian Bell, said the proposal to increase the nightly quota from 16 to 35 flights is ‘buried’ in a technical appendix to Sir Howard Davies’ interim report on airport expansion.
Under a proposal called ‘early morning smoothing’, Heathrow would be allowed to land additional planes between 5am and 6am, which is classified as the night quota period.
Sir Howard says the extra flights would minimise delays and could allow the airport to manage with one runway for arrivals between 6am and 7am, instead of two, which is the existing system.
Communities in places across west London are deeply opposed to flights before 6am as they affect their sleep and are possibly linked to health issues.
The ‘smoothing’ procedure is one of the short-term recommendations and will be trialled from 2015.
Cllr Bell said: “I just don’t think the Airports Commission has done enough work on noise to properly understand the problems experienced by people under the flightpath.
“We shouldn’t have to dig deep into a technical document to find out increases in night flights are proposed.
“This council has fought for years for a ban on night flights. We’ve challenged the current scheme in the courts.
"One arrival before 6am is one too many. People are entitled to a decent night’s sleep.”
The Davies commission’s first phase report says the south east of England will need two new runways by 2050 and two Heathrow expansion schemes are shortlisted.
Cllr Bell continued: “Today, there are 725,000 homes in the area around Heathrow where noise exceeds the standard EU measure for annoyance. This compares to 11,900 around Gatwick and 9,000 around Stansted.
“We believe the Davies commission has a duty to show that noise, air quality and public transport problems can all be resolved before advocating any increase in flights.
"This means considering the actual impact – not just the figures that Heathrow want us to believe.
“Back in 2010 the 2M Group defeated the last expansion proposals in the High Court. Nothing has changed and the grounds on which Heathrow expansion was stopped are the same today.
“There is just no credible environmental case for adding 200,000 flights to an airport located in the midst of one of the most densely built-up parts of the country. Heathrow is simply in the wrong place for that kind of expansion.”
The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.
Members are not anti-Heathrow but work together to improve the environment and protect the quality of life for local people.
More information on 2M is online at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/heathrow To let Sir Howard Davies know your views email Howard.Davies@airports.gsi.gov.uk