Edinburgh Airport bosses blasted by councillors over night flights

Stock pic Lisa Ferguson 28/02/2019
Stock pic Lisa Ferguson 28/02/2019

Airport bosses have been blasted for their “deafening silence” over stalled proposals to limit the number of night-time flights – 18 months after councillors backed a cap.

Edinburgh Airport has no legal or voluntary limit on the number of flights that take place at night – whereas the bigger London airports, closer to more densely populated residential areas, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted all have limits imposed by the UK Government. Manchester and Birmingham airports have voluntarily put limits in place.

In March 2018, the City of Edinburgh Council unanimously backed a motion from Liberal Democrat ward Cllr Kevin Lang, calling for a similar limit on night-time flying for the Capital’s airport. But more than 500 days after the motion was passed, Edinburgh Airport has yet to commit to considering a night-time limit.

Cllr Lang said: “It is now over 500 days since the council passed a historic vote in favour of a limit on night-time flights at Edinburgh Airport, yet there has been a deafening silence from the airport management since.

“Historically, Edinburgh has relatively few night time flights. However, the numbers are now growing year after year, yet Edinburgh Airport is one of the few major UK airports to operate without any legal or voluntary limit.

“There are already protections in place at places like Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted so why should people living near to Edinburgh Airport not have the same?  By refusing to provide any rationale or reason, people will simply conclude the airport is putting profit before people.”

Conservative Cllr Graham Hutchison, who also represents Cramond and Newbridge, which sit directly under the airport flight path, said: “The phenomenal success of Edinburgh Airport in recent years is key to the economic development of our city and as the airport and the city continue to grow it essential that management at the airport work collaboratively with the Council for the good of our residents and our many global visitors.

“It is most disappointing therefore that the clear message from councillors in the motion approved at full council 18 months ago has not been taken onboard by the airport and residents in my ward, directly under the flight path, continue to suffer from the impact or unrestricted night flights.”

The airport said many night-time flights are to transport goods to and from the Capital – while a limit could still be on the cards.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “The vast majority of aircraft operating at night are delivering mail and cargo to people and businesses across the UK, providing an important service to many.

“Although there are no legislative restrictions on night flights to or from Edinburgh Airport, we were the first airport in Scotland to introduce a scheme to increase night time charges following community feedback. Those increased charges encourage airlines to consider operating quieter aircraft or schedule operations within day time hours and it is only right that we evaluate the impact of that scheme which was introduced at the beginning of the year before determining our next steps.

“A limit on night flights is something we are still considering and we will continue to engage with local politicians on the matter.”