Update: Night flight challenge in court
Campaigners fighting to end night flights into Heathrow went head to head with the Government today at the High Court.
Richmond Council along with Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils are challenging the secretary of state for transport through a judicial review over what it says is a failure to establish the true impact air noise has on flight path residents.
The councils also hope to win a reduction in the number of aircraft allowed to arrive at Heathrow before 6am.
Opening the case on behalf of the authorities David Smith said: "The night flights regime has had an unhappy history before the courts."
Referring to points made in the 2006 judicial review brought by Richmond and Wandsworth councils after it was discovered many of the planes flying at this time of day had been placed in the wrong noise category, Mr Smith said the conclusions of the review were perverse and could not stand.
He added it had failed to give potential victims an effective remedy.
Justice Jeremy Sullivan reminded Mr Smith that his argument must "strike a fair balance keeping in mind environmental and economic issues," and he must focus on how this judicial review was different from the previous one.
Justice Sullivan said: "I would like to know where I'm going to end up.
"It's like you are saying here's one I baked earlier."
Mr Smith said data showed the Boeing 747-400 RR, the main model of aircraft used by airlines during the night quota period at Heathrow, showed aircraft produce more noise at night than their classifications suggests and responded saying: "So it's not one I baked earlier."
On average there are around 16 early morning arrivals each day between 4.30am and 6am.
Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister said: "If we win it could mean the Government having to set limits for the first time at a time of day when many people are still asleep."
The judicial review has been set for the next three days.
The challenge is also backed by Hounslow and Lambeth councils.