Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Nightflight ban fails to take off

Richmond and Twickenham Times - 7 June 2004

A BID to ban night flights at all European airports has failed in Parliament.

MEPs voted against the motion in the European Parliament last week, with only ten British MEPs supporting the bid.

The proposal was launched by Green MEP, Caroline Lucus, in February, and was backed by four European colleagues.

The Written Declaration was supported by London MEPs, Robert Evans (Labour), Sarah Ludford (Liberal Democrat) and Jean Lambert (Green), but Claude Morais and Mary Honeyball (Labour), Ian Twinn, Charles Tannock, Theresea Villiers, Richard Balfe and John Bowis (Conservative) did not back a ban on night flights.

The majority of the Conservatives took the view that night flights were the responsibility of national governments, not the European Parliament.

But John Bowis stressed that while, as the former MP for Battersea, he appreciated the distress night flights caused, he believed that it would be operationally difficult to go for a complete ban.

Speaking about the lack of support to back the ban, Caroline Lucas said: "MEPs have come up with a number of different excuses for not signing.

"But to say, as a number of Conservatives have, that night flights are not an EU issue is simply not correct.

"The treaty which established the European Community states that the Council of Ministers may lay down rules that apply to international transport to or from a member state.

"The EU has also published a Noise Directive."

John Stewart, chair of HACAN ClearSkies, told the Times:

"MEPs from all over Europe have received hundreds of letters urging them to support a ban on night flights.

"From these they have been forced to think about the problem.

"Night flights are now being talked about in the corridors of power across Europe. We intend to build on that."

In total, only 54 of the 626 MEPs across Europe supported the proposal to halt night flights at European airports, but HACAN and Caroline Lucus plan to continue with their battle to ban night flights.