ISSUE: Night Flights                       


Wandsworth makes cash call to save night flights ruling

With the deadline for legal submissions to the European Court of Human Rights on the night flights appeal just days away Wandsworth has launched a fresh appeal for funds from boroughs affected by aircraft noise.

The UK Government backed by British Airways is bidding to overturn last October's landmark ruling that night flights violated human rights. The appeal is expected to be heard in the autumn before 17 judges in the Grand Chamber.

The case had been brought to Strasbourg by eight west London residents. Their legal team has been told to present its case by June 17.

Wandsworth co-ordinated fund-raising from local authorities to help meet the legal costs of the original case. Now council leader Edward Lister is calling on boroughs in London and the South East to make one last contribution.

In his letter sent this week to council leaders he writes:

"The legal costs of defending last October's hard-won ruling mean that we need to make one last call for funds.

"We are in a very strong position having won such a clear-cut judgment last year. However the airlines, who have joined forces with the Government, will not give up without a fight and we need to ensure our legal team is properly resourced.

"This really is the last time we will need to come to you for support. Once the appeal is concluded there is nowhere else for either side to go. Because the stakes are so high - and the gains for all our residents so immense - we must make sure our case is rigorously prepared."

Cllr Lister has written personally to the Mayor of London and also council leaders from Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton, Westminster, Windsor & Maidenhead, Spelthorne, Runnymede, Tandridge, Reigate & Banstead, Crawley, Mid Sussex, Mole Valley, Horsham, Elmbridge, Uttlesford and Surrey.

Campaigners are anxious to defend last year's ECHR judgment which found that the Government had not properly investigated the effects of night flights on sleep prevention, nor whether they were essential in the economic interests of the country.

If the UK Government is successful night flights would continue and almost certainly increase. It could remove any protection for local residents from night flights even before Heathrow's new fifth terminal is built.

Anti-aircraft noise group HACAN are mounting a parallel fund-raising campaign amongst members of the public. Contributions can be sent direct to HACAN, PO Box 339, Twickenham, TW1 2XF.

Residents face fresh night flights challenge April 2002

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