PLANS to cut noise from night flights at Heathrow will make little difference residents' lives, campaigners have warned.

A public consultation was launched on Thursday, January 12 setting out the government's new measures, which would see the cuts achieved through the use of quieter aircraft.

But activists Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN) believe members of the public will be extremely disappointed with the plans, citing they will make minimal difference to noise levels.

“If the government are serious on ending night flights, this is the first test of their sincerity in doing so,” said Murray Barter, chairman of RAAN.

“The elephants in the room are the many 'unscheduled' night departures that overrun past their scheduled departures which are allowed to continue unabated and unrestricted throughout the night.

“From real world noise measurement the 'new generation' of Airbus A380 that is supposed to be replacing the older generation Boeing 747 is actually louder, not quieter than the 747.

“Also, the 'night' period is curtailed to six and a half hours, which is against the world health guidelines of eight hours.

“Nothing within this consultation or regarding Heathrow expansion will alter this for the better.”

Current night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted expire in October, with the new regulations lasting until 2022.

Airport chiefs believe the strict cap placed on night flights would reduce the total noise quota at Heathrow by at least 43 per cent in the winter and 50 per cent in the summer.

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

“Night flights are, however, important to the economy,” he said. “By creating extra choice for passenger and moving freight, and we need to carefully balance the needs of communities.

“That's why we are encouraging the use of quieter aircraft by brining in tighter noise quotas at the airports and setting strict caps on aircraft movements at night.”

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

Any ban on night flights at an expanded Heathrow would be consulted on separately.