Activists issue plea to ban night flights at UK airports

Airport community campaign groups across the UK are demanding a ban on night flights.

Seventeen organisations covering airports such as Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow and Southampton have written to aviation minister Robert Courts demanding that take offs and landings to be prohibited for eight hours every night.

This would enable people living nearby to have “a full night’s sleep consistent with health guidelines”, the letter stated.

It called for exemptions to only be allowed “for emergency and humanitarian purposes”.

The signatories claimed the “historic justifications for night flights no longer withstand scrutiny”.

Business travel has “largely been replaced with video calls”, cargo delivered by night flights is “rarely time-critical”, and a high amount of leisure travel is “inconsistent with climate imperatives”, according to the letter.

The campaigners urged the Government to “take advantage” of the current decline in night flights due to the Covid-19 pandemic by banning night flights “as soon as possible, giving airlines and airports an opportunity to plan new schedules now”.

They described a 2017 consultation which led to night flights continuing at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as “fundamentally flawed” because “the Government decided the answer before it asked the question”.

A new consultation covering night flights at all UK airports is expected to be launched later this year.

At Heathrow, an average of 16 flights are allowed to land between 11.30pm and 6am every night. Around 80% take place between 4.30am and 6am.

Paul Grimley, of East Midlands-based Melbourne Civic Society – which signed the letter to the minister, said: “Across the country, night flights are hugely unpopular. It is now beyond dispute that they can damage people’s health.

“The Government needs to bite the bullet and bring them to an end.”