The High Court is to hear arguments by three councils that the government has ignored the damaging effects of aircraft noise at Heathrow Airport.
According to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils, the Department for Transport (DfT) needs to re-evaluate which aircraft should be permitted to land at the hub during night-time hours.
At present about 16 flights arrive at London Heathrow each day between 4.30am and 6am.
But the councils argue that three years ago the DfT ignored an internal report which concluded some early-arrival planes had been placed in the wrong noise category.
David Smith, counsel for the local authorities, claimed that transport secretary Ruth Kelly’s predecessor, Douglas Alexander, “failed to address the statutory test of the effect of aircraft noise or, if he did address it, did so in an irrational and disproportionate manner and contrary to his own policies”.
In particular, the councils say that the Boeing 747-400 RR – the aircraft most commonly used during the night quota period – has been wrongly classified at too low a noise level.
The court challenge is supported by Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow and Hillingdon councils, as well as the Greater London Authority.