We all need a good night’s kip


Night flights are the bane of many Londoners lives, adversely impacting on health, creating noise and air pollution and affecting quality of life. Have you ever just been falling asleep when an aeroplane flies overhead, or woken from slumber by the sound of a Boeing 747 over your house? If you have, then you know that not only is it annoying but it is exhausting, and seemingly endless.


Unsurprisingly if you speak to people in West London the main issue of concern is aircraft noise. This needs to be reflected in the Department of Transport’s Night Flights Consultation, which closes on 22 April 2013. The initial consultation seeks views on night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in preparation for the next night flights regime to help assess the relative feasibility of various options.

Night flights

Currently, 17 flights arrive at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am and 60 follow between 6am and 7am. Campaigners are calling for an all-out ban on anything before 6am with a reduction in the number of flights in the following hour but the Government seems unlikely to accept this course of action.

Impact on health

Simply put, the Department of Transport has to choose between the economic benefits night flights bring, against sleep disturbance and health effects from aircraft noise on local residents. However, they should consider the loss of productivity from those suffering from disturbed sleep, which in itself has economic repercussions. The Civil Aviation Authority has already submitted evidence to the consultation including a proposed methodology for estimating the value of sleep disturbance and health effects.

Personally, I believe the value of a good night’s kip cannot be underestimated. Although the supposed economic benefits of night flights are well rehearsed, there are detrimental health and economic impacts that result from disturbing people’s sleep. If there are ways of sharing this burden more equally with the rest of the south-east they should be seriously considered by ministers. Recently, the London Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee, which I chair, investigated night flights in order to make a submission to the Government’s consultation.

Weather dependent

We heard how around 70 per cent of planes landing between 11.30pm and 6am currently approach from the east of the UK, due to the westerly prevailing wind. This could be cut to 60 per cent if planes were allowed to land from the west when the weather allowed which would benefit an estimated 110,000 people east of Heathrow.

This would be a start in affording the people of West London a restful night’s sleep. However, it does not solve the problem as around 15,000 people would be disturbed to the west of Heathrow. One suggestion to improve the current situation is to introduce an early morning rotation system so if you have disturbed sleep one night, the next night you might get a chance of catching up on your sleep.

Have your say

There is no right answer which will suit all residents all of the time. However, I urge Londoners affected by this aircraft noise at night to submit evidence to the government’s consultation, and I urge them to listen. Something must be done to reduce the impact of night flights on Londoners

One thought on “We all need a good night’s kip

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