ISSUE: Night Flights                       

Council leader accuses Labour MPs of voting for more night flights

Councillor Edward Lister, Leader of the Council, had contrasted the failure of the Battersea and Tooting MPs to support the campaign for fewer flights with the continued opposition of Labour Councillors and MPs in other parts of London.

The full text of Councillor Lister's speech follows here:

"Over the last 10 years opposition to the early morning flights which land at Heathrow before 6am has been shared on both sides of this Chamber.

I have spoken at public meetings with Labour MPs in Putney and Battersea.

Tony Colman's support for our case was exemplary. He was never afraid to speak out on an issue which is of such concern to people in our Borough.

Martin Linton's support however was always qualified - he was for example too quick to suggest more flights over Tooting as the answer to noise in Battersea. But despite these differences he was always ready to offer general backing for the Council's campaign.

But something has changed.

On October 10th MPs finally had a chance to do something about night flights.

It was the Third Reading of the Civil Aviation Bill.

This as many people now know is the killer Bill for night flights.
It is the one that removes once and for all any last vestige of protection against rising numbers of early morning arrivals.

Now the sky's the limit for night flights.

In future we will have to rely on a Government noise calculation to know if we are being woken up enough before 6am.

But less than twelve months ago this Council's Environmental Health Department proved in Court that even the current noise calculations were hopelessly out of line.

The noise dose for planes landing at Heathrow before 6am was 74% higher than previously stated by Ministers.

A system which tries to equate community annoyance with a measurement of the noise energy of individual aircraft types will never provide any meaningful protection for people who simply want a decent night's sleep.

As I said in a letter to Martin Linton last month - if movements per night double residents will see their sleep disturbance double - regardless of whether the official noise quota stays the same.

So we are left with a numbers limit as the only credible defence against worsening night noise.

This cap was never offered by the Department for Transport. It was forced on them in 1994 following a successful High Court action by Richmond Council.

Now eleven years later this Labour Government is jettisoning that vital relief awarded by the Courts.

Unbelievably they are doing this at the same time as they are trying to get the go ahead for an increase in the current movements cap.

Clause 2 (2) of the Civil Aviation Bill was slipped into a ramshackle piece of legislation - presumably hoping no one would notice.

Well we noticed. Our new Putney MP noticed. And the result was a debate in which MPs from all sides spoke.

Maybe it was too much to hope that MPs would throw out the offending clause - but you would have hoped that those with communities affected by aircraft noise would speak out - and certainly those representing people in this Borough.

Sadly this did not happen.

Not only did our Battersea and Tooting MPs make no contribution to the debate - they both dutifully voted with the Government - and so condemned their constituents to a future of ever increasing night flights.

Ministers are completely in thrall to the airlines and airport operators.

They accept uncritically their self-serving arguments on the profitability of these 16 flights that come in mainly from the Far East every morning.

It is this bogus and untested argument of economic benefit which is the mainstay of the industry's case - and which our local MPs too seem to have swallowed.

These 16 or so flights may be profitable for BA and the other airlines - but that is not the same as beneficial to the UK economy.

But most damaging of all - no attempt is made by this Government to balance the supposed benefits - whether to BA or the country as a whole - against the misery caused by these dawn raiders.

Our fight to preserve the movements limit now goes to the Lords where we will be striving again for all-party support.

In this campaign we are working alongside Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem Councils.
There is growing cooperation with airport communities around Stansted and Gatwick.

At the same time we will continue to harry the Government in the Courts to expose every legal shortcoming in their case.

Because, when the Parliamentary route is exhausted, the courts remain the only defence against the irrevocable damage to our quality of life which Ministers and their supporters now seem determined to inflict."

Response from Councillor Stuart King the Labour Leader of the Opposition on Wandsworth Council

November 4, 2005



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Associated articles:

Putney's new MP attacks Governmemt plans to loosen controls on night flights 28.05.2005

Night noise misery to continue predicts Council 06.08.2004

Council pledges to fight any recommendation to relax restrictions on night flights 01.03.2004

Government wins Night Flight case 8.7.03

Richmond first with night flights cash 31.05.02

Wandsworth makes cash call to save night flights ruling May 2002

Residents face fresh night flights challenge April 2002

Night flights ruling could come before Christmas November 2002