Stansted Airport Watch calls on Government to end night flights
Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) is calling on the Government to end night flights at the Uttlesford hub.
The airport's owner, MAG (Manchester Airports Group), argues they are "vital for the movement of time-sensitive cargo and express freight, including pharmaceuticals and perishable goods" – but the SAW campaigners demand the health and wellbeing of residents take precedence.
Stansted is allowed an average of 37 flights a night – up to 13,700 a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow (5,800) – between 11.30pm and 6am as part of its maximum 274,000 aircraft movements a year.
SAW wants the Government to use the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of "night" as 11pm to 7am instead.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for capping night flights at Stansted and normally reviews the position every five years. The current Night Flights Restrictions (NFRs) were due to be replaced by a new regime in October 2022, but the DfT is consulting on extending the current NFRs until 2025.
SAW – formerly Stop Stansted Expansion – wants night flights to be phased out, starting next year, and wants an immediate ban on all night-time aircraft landings at Stansted using reverse thrust, except in the case of genuine emergencies.
Its noise adviser Martin Peachey said: "We are told that night flights are essential to provide economic benefits for the UK economy, but many of these are holiday charter flights to Spain, Portugal, Greece and so on.
"It's far from clear that these night flights benefit the UK economy and it's even less clear why they can't operate during the day. We should start by phasing these out."
He continued: "The Government cannot continue to disregard the evidence that night flights are damaging to the health of local residents. The most recent expert scientific advice from the World Health Organisation and others is clear and very worrying.
"There is also an economic cost of night flights. Sleep disturbance can significantly reduce the efficiency of people at work the following day and many local residents whose sleep has been disturbed will have jobs which are of vital importance to UK society and the economy."
SAW argues there has not been a proper review of the regime that takes full account of up-to-date evidence for 15 years. It wants an unequivocal commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted, starting next year, and a complete ban in place by 2030 except in the case of genuine emergencies.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "Night flights are a small but important part of our operation, with both passenger airlines and cargo operators attaching a high value to the ability to operate at night, supporting economic growth and jobs both in the East of England and the UK as a whole.
"They are vital for the movement of time-sensitive cargo and express freight, including pharmaceuticals and perishable goods, and airlines rely on early-morning flights in order to keep airfares as low as possible for passengers.
"Stansted has grown in a measured and environmentally sustainable way and the introduction of the latest generation of quieter, more efficient aircraft will ensure that we continue to minimise aircraft noise."