By Mark Stillman
Residents living near Heathrow Airport could soon be getting a better night's sleep, if the London Assembly gets its way.
The capital's elected body is calling for night flights to be reduced or scrapped altogether.
Its health and environment committee's appeal today came in response to a Government consultation on night flights.
The committee said if these flights cannot be halted, then at least a switch to more planes arriving overnight approaching from the west of London - weather permitting - would be some insurance against continued sleepless nights.
This would reduce the number flying over central London at night.
More than 70 per cent come from the east now because of the more favourable wind direction.
The plan would reduce noise disruption for about 110,000 people although it would raise it for 15,600 living to the west of London in parts of Windsor, Datchet and Stanwell Moor.
The London Assembly committee also says that the Government should aim to substantially reduce the overall noise 'footprint' from Heathrow night flights, including the area where noise levels exceed 40 decibels.
This suggestion comes in the wake of health concerns expressed by the World Health Organisation.
Murad Qureshi , chair of the health and environment committee, said the Assembly wants Heathrow night flights stopped because it is "unacceptable" that thousands of Londoners are unable to get a good night's sleep because of planes flying overhead.
The committee, in response to the Government, states it is opposed to any removal of the current voluntary curfew around night flights and supports a mandatory respite period.
It also proposes investigating whether reducing scheduled daytime airport activity would create the necessary flexibility to avoid extra night flights due to delays and backlogs.