Southend Airport night flights to continue as it is ‘operating within the rules’

Councillors have heard that disturbances caused by late night cargo flights from Southend Airport will continue because they are operating within the rules.

Southend Airport recently signed a deal with a global logistics firm – believed to be Amazon – to fly cargo planes to and from the airport.

But it has resulted in several complaints from residents who say they are being woken up throughout the night. When the disturbances were raised by councillors during a meeting on Tuesday night, they were told the council is powerless to do anything about it.

Labour councillor Daniel Cowan said there has been a “significant uptake in complaints about night noise” since the airport started its partnership and questioned whether the council can enforce stricter regulations through a planning agreement.

Councillor Carole Mulroney (LibDem), who oversees environment, said: “Since the recent increase in night-time flights, concerns have been raised by residents through a number of mechanisms about noise in unsociable hours at night causing sleep disturbances.

“Residents are worried these are happening and may increase with existing consent.

“I have attended two meetings recently with the airport to discuss this issue amongst other issues and the representatives have stated their position as being ‘we are within the rules’.

“While I have concerns about the current controls, I have to accept the previous decision of this council to grant consent and the restrictions that are in place. I cannot alter them.

“Any changes would need to be agreed by all parties and it would seem most unlikely the airport would simply agree to altering its activities to be lower than those previously consented.

“At present there is no evidence that the controls and limitations have been breached and I can assure councillors that should breaches occur in future the council will take enforcement action.”

The agreement with the logistics firm has meant there are now three additional flights each night, two arrival at 1am and 3am, as well as one departure at 5.30am.

During the meeting, Ms Mulroney was also asked about the airport’s environmental impact and what action is being taken in light of Southend pledging to significantly cut carbon emissions by 2030.

The councillor explained that an agreement has been reached for the airport to begin the process of producing an environmental impact plan and letters have also been sent to all airlines operating in the borough to ask what measures they will be taking to cut emissions.

In an interview last week, Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation which owns the airport, ruled out any increase in the number of night flights and said that there is a “very small number” compared to other airports.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter