Last reviewed 4 December 2020

The Department for Transport (DfT) is seeking public comments on its future night flight policy with specific regard to night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.

The consultation documents, which can be found at GOV.UK, recognise that noise from aircraft taking-off and landing at night is often regarded by communities as the most disturbing form of airport operations.

“We also recognise,” the DfT said, “that there is evidence, including in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) revised Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region, that sleep disturbance caused by aircraft night operations can have adverse health impacts on overflown communities.”

As the travel and tourism sectors move towards a post-pandemic recovery, the consultation document accepts that it is also important that the Government should continue to work on longer-term priorities, including those relating to aviation noise and night flights.

“It is important that the Government finds the right balance between limiting the adverse environmental impacts that night flights have on communities, whilst supporting the aviation sector (passenger, freight, general aviation), and the businesses that depend on the availability of night flights to deliver critical goods and services,” the DfT states.

Open for comments until 3 March 2021, the consultation document asks whether the existing night flight restrictions should be maintained for the designated airports in the period between 2022 to 2024, plus banning QC4 rated aircraft movements overnight (between 23:30 and 06:00).

Prior to the pandemic, QC4 rated aircraft (for example Boeing 747-400 on departure) were the noisiest aircraft in regular service at any of the designated airports.

Finally, the consultation seeks views on policy options for the future night flight policy, beyond 2024, both at designated airports and nationally.