AVIATION bosses have been accused of drawing up secret plans to scrap night flight restrictions at Heathrow during the London Olympics.
Campaigners say the proposals - unearthed in a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) document - are an attempt to sneak in more flights 'through the back door'.
The move is mentioned in the appendix to the agenda of a meeting of the CAA's Olympic and Paralympic Steering Group.
'De-restriction of night flights' is one of several proposals in the report that are aimed at boosting capacity at Heathrow and other airports during the London 2012 games.
Other measures being considered include developing old aerodromes, the use of military aerodromes and the 'de-restriction' of noise controls.
The document concludes that the Olympics could provide 'an opportunity for a transport legacy with potential capacity problems'. John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow campaign group HACAN, said the revelations were shocking.
"It will be bad enough that Londoners are bombarded by air-craft noise day and night during the Olympics," he said. "It will be even worse if some of these new measures stay in place to provide extra capacity for ever and a day."
Meanwhile, Heathrow operator BAA has welcomed a report by the Airport Operators Association (AOA) which claims failure to increase capacity at Britain's airports could cost the country £30billion a year.
The report says restricting growth in the number of flights to 1.5 per cent a year, rather than the three per cent it claims demand will increase by, would also lead to 700,000 fewer jobs being created. The report was compiled by independent economic consultants Oxera.
A CAA spokesman said: "There is absolutely no decision yet on what these options will be and that decision is some time off. Any decision on changes to the night noise requirements would have to be made by the government rather than the CAA."