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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Government in night flight U-turn
Aeroplane above Heathrow Airport
Night flights average 16 a night at Heathrow during the winter
Plans that would have boosted night flights at three major UK airports have been dropped by the government.

It follows two defeats on the issue in the House of Lords as well as local campaigns against more night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

The government had wanted to replace the current limits on the number of planes that can land between midnight and 6am with a noise quota.

Campaigners welcomed the move to get a "decent night's sleep".

Transport minister Stephen Ladyman wrote to Conservative transport spokesman in the House of Lords, Lord Hanningfield, about the government's changed stance.

'Quieter planes'

The government has tabled amendments to the Civil Aviation Bill which will be debated by MPs when Parliament resumes in October after the summer recess.

It had argued that quieter modern planes meant more stringent noise limits could be set.

Heathrow is allowed 2,550 take-offs and landings to take place between 11.30pm and 6am during the six-month "winter season".

This averages out at about 16 a night.

The airport is also subject to a cap on the cumulative amount of noise - the number of flights multiplied by the noise created by each plane.

There is no such thing as a quiet airplane
Lord Hanningfield

Under the government's plans, the noise cap would have been lowered slightly but the limit on the number of flights would have disappeared.

Lord Hanningfield said: "This is a great victory for all of those that have been campaigning for the right to have a decent night's sleep.

"I am pleased that the government has taken on board many of the concerns expressed both in Parliament and amongst those affected communities.

"There is no such thing as a quiet airplane. Residents want the clear, unambiguous protection offered by a cap on the total numbers of movements and I am delighted that we have managed to secure this for them."

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