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Aviation minister Karen Buck today launched the second part of the two stage consultation on night flying restricti...
Aviation minister Karen Buck today launched the second part of the two stage consultation on night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. The first stage of the consultation took place last year.

The consultation document

* announces the government's intention to maintain existing controls until October 2006;

* sets out detailed proposals for night restrictions covering the six-year period from the end of the summer season 2006 to the end of the summer season 2012.

In particular, the document

* sets out the government's proposed environmental objectives and specific noise abatement objectives for each of the airports;

* seeks views on whether or not to extend the length of the night quota period;

* makes specific proposals for the movements limits and noise quotas in each season;

* sets out proposed night noise criteria for the airports' future noise insulation schemes,

* announces decisions about certain technical details of the restrictions taken in the light of last year's first stage consultation.

Announcing the consultation Ms Buck said: 'We have concluded that it is necessary to continue the existing controls for a further twelve months. This will give us time to consult widely over the next three months about the measures we are proposing and to consider the responses to the consultation before taking decisions about the next six-year period.'

'I urge everyone with a view about night flights at the three London airports to read the consultation document and send us their comments. We have identified key questions to help people focus their responses, and the document goes into some detail so that those who wish to can explore the issues in depth.'

'We will consider all the responses very carefully and we will welcome views in as much detail as possible, especially from those most closely involved, to help the Government come to a fair and balanced decision on the package of controls.'

'I look particularly to the industry to provide any evidence supporting the economic case for night flights.'

The consultation document proposes that night flying restrictions should continue to be based on movements limits and the quota count classification system, as at present.

Among the questions asked in the consultation is the possibility of extending the night quota period to cover the whole night from 11pm to 7am, though the Government's provisionally preferred option - subject to consultation - is to retain the current 6 1/2 hour NQP.

On the basis of a 6 1/2 hour NQP, the consultation also sets out the following suggested noise abatement objectives at the airports:

- at Heathrow, to limit the 61/2 hour 48 dBA Leq contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 55 km2 by 2011-2012. In 2002-03 the contour implied by maximum usage of the limits would have been 55.7km2 while the actual contour covered 53.9km2;

- at Gatwick, to limit the 61/2 hour 48 dBA Leq contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 40 km2 by 2011-2012, representing a reduction of about 3% compared with 2002-03;

- at Stansted, where the average quota per aircraft (in the limit and in actuality) is currently low, to allow for expected growth in the average size of aircraft flying at night as the airport develops, while taking advantage of the gradual replacement of noisier by quieter aircraft, weight for weight.

The government believes it will be possible to keep within the night quota period contour implied by the 2002-03 noise quota while allowing for growth; so it is proposed specifically to limit the 6 1/2 hour 48 dBA Leq contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 38 km2 by 2011-2012, comparable with what would be expected from maximum usage of the present noise quota.

Equivalent objectives are also suggested in the consultation document for the airports on the basis of an 8-hour NQP.

The consultation will close on 16 September 2005.


1. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are the designated airports where noise is regulated by the Secretary of State under s.78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. The night restrictions form part of a range of controls applied under this section.

2. While different arrangements apply at other airports, the form of the designated airports' controls might help with the consideration of revisions to the night flight regime elsewhere.

3. The primary control is a limit on the number of movements (take-offs and landings) that can occur between 11:30pm and 6:00am in each Winter and Summer scheduling seasons, these being demarcated by the dates when the clocks go back and forward. The movements limits are supported by noise quota controls, which are based on the comparative noisiness of each type of aircraft as determined through the International Civil Aviation Organization certification system.

4. Most consultees will be likely to focus primarily on the proposals for these limits, but we are also consulting on the possibility of extending the night quota period to cover the whole night from 11pm to 7am, and on other matters as described in the notice above.

5. The more detailed issues include such matters as the end-season carryover arrangements, and a proposal for two new noise monitors at Heathrow (to improve the efficiency with which departure noise exceedences are detected).

6. The present movements limits and quotas are:

Winter Season 2004-05

Movements Limit / Noise Quota

Heathrow 2550 4140

Gatwick 5250 6640

Stansted 5000 3550

Summer Season 2005

Movements Limit / Noise Quota

Heathrow 3250 5610

Gatwick 11200 9000

Stansted 7000 4950

7. The department's detailed proposals up to Summer 2012 are shown at section 7 of the consultation document, both on the basis of the existing night quota period (which we have indicated is the provisionally preferred option, subject to the consultation) and in the event of it being extended.

8. No decisions on these limits have yet been taken, and consultees have the opportunity to put their case for more or less stringent controls.

9. In December, a legal challenge to the Stage 1 consultation by Richmond upon Thames LBC and Wandsworth LBC was resolved by a court order. This recorded the parties had agreed that the Secretary of State is entitled to have regard to the operational noise of aircraft (and not merely to ICAO certification data) in formulating operating restrictions, provided that, in respect of performance-based operating restrictions at any given airport, aircraft with the same ICAO certificated noise levels are treated in the same way.

10. That left the way clear to proceed to Stage 2. The proposed noise-abatement objectives are based on noise contours which in turn are calibrated on the basis of operational noise; while the quota count allocation system treats aircraft with the same certificated noise levels consistently.

11. Noise is measured using the standard decibel scale (dBA). A series of aircraft noise events can be averaged over any given period of time using the equivalent continuous sound level (Leq). Leq is the method of averaging recommended in the government's planning guidance on noise and in guidelines issued by, for example, the World Health Organisation.

12. Copies of tThe consultation paper is available here.

Department for Transport

Aviation Environmental Division

Zone 1/34

Great Minster House

76 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DR


telephone: 020 7944 5796

It is also available on the Department's website:

13. A summary of the responses to the Stage 1 consultation, and the Stage 1 consultation paper, are also available on the Department's website.

14. The aviation Minister announced the forthcoming publication of the consultation paper to the House of Commons yesterday. The Written Statement follows (and is available here).

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3387 / 020 7944 3232


Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300

Department for Transport Website:


Consultation on Night Flying Restrictions

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ms Karen Buck): On 21 July 2004, my predecessor as aviation Minister, Tony McNulty, launched stage 1 of a two stage consultation process about setting the night restrictions regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for the future.

We shall be publishing at 10am tomorrow the consultation paper on Stage 2. It was not possible to publish the second stage consultation paper in time to enable us to have a new regime in place by 30 October this year. Our second stage consultation on the new regime is important.The proposals take account of the responses to stage 1. We shall welcome responses on the stage 2 proposals from any interested person or organisation. In order to allow time for the consultation process and analysis of responses, the present night restrictions regime will continue for a further year from 30 October

2005 until 29 October 2006. During that year we propose that the current regime should continue unchanged. The consultation document will then set out the proposed night restrictions regime to apply to the end of the summer season 2012.

Interested parties will have 14 weeks to comment on the consultation, with the closing date being 16 September.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the Library of the House and on the internet at I am also placing in the House library, and at the same web address a summary of the responses to the stage 1 consultation. Copies of all the responses, except where the author has requested confidentiality, are available for six months for inspection by prior appointment at the DfT Library and Information Centre, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE.

The stage 2 consultation document will be sent to all consultees and copies will be available on request from:

Department for Transport

Aviation Environmental Division

Zone 1/34

Great Minster House

76 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DR.

I look forward to hearing what people have to say on this important issue.

GNNREF: 116281

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