Night flights are a key environmental concern for Londoners because of the noise pollution from aircraft at unsettling times when people are just about to fall asleep or in the very early hours in the morning or worst still, in the middle of the night! If you knock on the doors of West London suburbs you won’t hear about the problem of carbon emissions or air quality but you will invariably hear about the blight of aircraft noise on the quality of local resident’s lives and as the top major environmental concern.
It was with this in mind that the London Assembly Health & Environment Committee held a session last week on the government’s consultation on night flights at Heathrow airport. Whilst, cross party, the London Assembly is against the present night flight regime (which permits up to 15 flights during the night, mostly arriving after 5am from the Far East), we will still be responding to some of the new government proposals.
For example, there is a proposal to allow night flight landings coming in from the west of Heathrow; that is over Thames Valley and in particular Windsor. This would mean quieter nights for an estimated 100,000 Londoners east of Heathrow including many in Hounslow but increased disturbance for about 15,000 people over in the West. On paper, this may appear to be the lesser of 2 evils; however night flight changes should not be adopted to the detriment of other Londoners. The changes should seek to improve the experience for Londoners already affected without creating new problems for other residents. My view is that Londoners deserve better so watch this space for the Committee’s response to the consultation.