Aircraft noise campaigners take case to Europe

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The Independent Online

Noise campaigners will this week take their battle against night flights to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg court will be asked to decide whether the campaigners are justified in calling on the British Government to cut night flights into Heathrow Airport.

If the campaign is successful, it could lead to similar challenges from communities under flight paths at other UK airports.

The court case on Tuesday is being brought by eight members of the HACAN (Heathrow Association for Control of Aircraft Noise) ClearSkies group.

Several local authorities in the Heathrow area of west London are supporting the campaign having failed in their own battle against night flights, despite taking the case to the House of Lords.

"This could be a very significant case indeed," said John Stewart, chairman of HACAN ClearSkies.

"If the court finds in our favour, it could have profound effects across Europe. It might even mean the end to night flights.

"The court has already accepted our argument that night flights take away our right to have a good night's sleep. It has asked the British Government to justify this."

Around 15 flights arrive at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am. HACAN says that the Government will have to convince the Strasbourg court that these flights are vital to the British economy.

"We think the Government will have difficulty doing this and we are quietly optimistic of winning," said Mr Stewart.