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‘It’s money versus human rights’ - campaigners welcome Kent County Council stance on night flights at Gatwick

PUBLISHED: 17:04 14 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 14 March 2017

View from above of the runway and terminals at Gatwick Airport

View from above of the runway and terminals at Gatwick Airport

Amanda Lewis

KCC has said there is an “unacceptable” number of such flights blighting west Kent communities

Campaigners opposed to expansion at Gatwick have accused the airport of putting money over human rights in a row over night flights.

Kent County Council this week revealed its response to a Depratment for Transport consultation into the issue, in which it stated there were an “unacceptable” number of night flights blighting communities in west Kent.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has also pressed the transport secretary Chris Grayling on the problem a number of times in the House of Commons.

Martin Barraud, of the Gatwick Obviously Not campaign group, told Kent News he was pleased to see support developing.

“Everyone wants to talk about this because it’s ruining their lives,” he said.

“They say only 4,300 people are affected by night flights but that’s absolutely ridiculous.

“There’s no doubt there is momentum growing from MPs and KCC and we were responsible for them turning against it in the first place.

“It only takes one plane to wake you up, but they’re not worried about that, it’s money versus human rights.”

At Gatwick, the DfT proposes to retain the existing limit of flights arriving or departing between 11.30pm and 6am - currently 3,250 in winter and 11,200 in summer - and reduce the amount of noise energy that can be produced over the same period.

However, council chiefs insist this plan doesn’t do enough to help the affected constituencies.

Responding to the comments, a spokesperson for the airport said: “We acknowledge that the issue of night time flying is a matter of concern for local communities and a balance needs to be struck between the economic benefits of night time flying and the needs of local communities.

“The current restrictions on night flying at Gatwick date back many years and are set by the DfT and we work hard with our airline partners to maintain on time performance to prevent flights from operating at night due to delays and also charge our airlines appropriately to ensure they operate the quietest fleet possible during the sensitive night period.

“Gatwick Airport supports the proposed policy objective of the recent DfT consultation on night flying at the three London airports which encouraged the use of quieter aircraft technology to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the significant economic benefits of night flights.

“The consultation has provided a welcome opportunity for the industry and community alike to comment on the proposals put forward.”

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