New measures to cut the noise allowed from night flights at Heathrow Airport have been announced, but campaigners claim there are no real changes.

The Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday (Thursday January 12) set out measures which are out for public consultation, which it argues will encourage the use of quieter aircraft.

Current night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports expire in October 2017, and the new rules will last for the next five years up to 2022.

The planning application for the third runway will be formally submitted in 2019, but the decision surrounding night flights must be decided before D-day, campaigners argue

Aviation minister, Lord Ahmad, said: " This government is committed to tackling the issue of aircraft noise, especially flights at night, which can be a blight for people living near airports.

"Night flights are, however, important to the economy, creating extra choice for passengers and moving freight, and we need to carefully balance the needs of local communities with the benefits these flights can bring.

"That’s why we are encouraging the use of quieter aircraft by bringing in tighter noise quotas at the airports and setting strict caps on aircraft movements at night."

Measures out for consultation include reducing the total noise quota at Heathrow Airport by at least 43% in the winter (from 4,080 "noise classification" points to 2,340) and 50% in the summer (5,100 "noise classification points" to 2,540).

Each aircraft is set a quota value depending on how loud it is upon take-off and landing, which is the figure the new measures are hoping to reduce.

However, the views have already been criticised by campaigners against the Heathrow third runway , who told getwestlondon that "for people on the ground, the minor changes will make no difference to noise".

John Stewart, chair of the campaign group HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircrafts), said, "Local residents will be disappointed that their early morning wake-up call remains the first flight at 4.30am.

"We do, though, see the sense in postponing any changes until the question of a third runway is settled.

"During the forthcoming consultation on the new runway we will be arguing very strongly for no flights before 6am."

HACAN argue the government is proposing no change, and yet it was agreed if there was a third runway, a tougher night flight regime was to be negotiated.

Jackie Clark-Basten, chairman of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: "It is clear from this consultation that the government would rather not upset residents further by making changes to the night flight regime while they are already under threat from a further 260,000 flights per year if a third runway goes ahead.

"I encourage residents to respond to this consultation."

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At present an average of 16 flights each night are allowed to land at Heathrow between 11.30pm and 6am.

There are no scheduled departures during this period. The first flight lands at 4.30am.

The consultation can be viewed online and will run until Tuesday, February 28, 2017, after which responses will be reviewed and a final decision on night flights will be published.

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