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Government plans to more than double the number of ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been postponed until 2017, the transport secretary has confirmed.
Under proposals outlined in the Airport Commission’s interim report, which was published in December 2013, the number of planes allowed to land at the airport before 6am each day would have increased from 16 to 35 from next year.
The government has now put those plans back three years, stating it wanted to ensure “regulatory stability” at southeast airports while the Airports Commission makes its final recommendations on which airport should be used to increase capacity for the UK.
Gatwick is currently competing with Heathrow to build a new runway, with the Airports Commission due to make a recommendation on which airport should be expanded next summer.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, said: “The government is confirming today that we will be maintaining the existing restrictions on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports for a further three years until October 2017, as well as extending the ban on rare movements made by older noisier types of aircraft.”
He added: “This decision will help give certainty around the night noise environment for those living near the airports, as well as ensuring operational capacity at these airports is not affected pending decisions on any new airport capacity in light of the commission’s final report.”
The government has also postponed the Commission’s recommendation for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority. It said: “The government believes that it would be more appropriate to consider the role for such a body alongside the commission’s final recommendations on long-term capacity.”
McLoughlin was responding to the Airport Commissions interim report published in December.
Earlier this week campaign group Let Britain Fly criticised the government for failure to respond sooner to the report - calling its lack of response “unacceptable”.