Key ruling could reduce Heathrow night flights

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The Independent Online

An anti-noise group protesting against overnight flights at Heathrow has won a ruling at the European Court of Human Rights that could lead to the banning of all such flights.

The court ­ in Strasbourg, France ­ was deciding on a case brought last year against the UK Government by Heathrow anti­noise group HACAN ClearSkies.

The group claims that noise generated by the 16 flights allowed at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am are an abuse of residents' right to a good night's sleep.

With the ruling in HACAN's favour, the Government could be forced to curtail the overnight flights at the west London airport. Such a ruling could lead to challenges by anti­noise groups at other UK airports.

"The court cannot force an EU member state to implement a decision, but UK governments have always gone along with court rulings," said HACAN chairman John Stewart.

He added: "We believe that the UK Government could bring in a night­flight ban at Heathrow within 18 months.

"We sympathise with the plight of airlines in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in America. But we are all keen to reduce night­time noise levels."