Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Near misses between London City Airport planes concerns MP

It came to FTF's attention some time ago the amount of 'near misses' (The Civil Aviation Authority call these proximity reports) of aircraft leaving and arriving from London City Airport. This is something that Sir Robin Wales, FC London City Airport Chief Executive Richard Gooding and Hill & Knowlton have clearly avoided addressing when 'pushing through' their quest for more flights over the most densely occupied part of England: despite it being an issue which is of interest and importance to the general public on health and safety grounds.

Never mind the public, just think of the profits to be made!!

Thankfully, we still have freedom of information, freedom of speech, and some of the press excercise their freedom to report, unlike some of the other publications who only 'advertise' for the airport whilst denying residents the facts and the risks that are overhead. So read on for an excellent piece of factual and informative reporting from the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian. We of course commend Harry Cohen MP for speaking of his concern on such important safety issues in the interest of his constituents - it's more than Stephen Timms has done for his! Hoorah, a good example of local reporting in the interests of the community, and at it's very best! It's just a shame Newham residents, are not as blessed.

10:41am Tuesday 30th December 2008

By Daniel Binns »

THERE have been nine ‘near misses’ between planes flying to and from London City Airport in the skies above north east London over the past five years, the Guardian can reveal.
In one case, two aircraft came within half a mile of each other during one misunderstanding, while in another incident a pilot “became distracted” and soared beyond his plane’s authorised height.

Harry Cohen, MP for Leyton & Wanstead, is so concerned about the number of near misses that he plans to contact the Secretary of State for Transport Geoff Hoon.
He said: "There are so many planes flying over my constituency it is amazing that there hasn't been a crash.

"I think the Government needs to look at the expansion of airports and the affect it has on the environment."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told the Guardian there was “no risk” of a collision in any of the cases, which all happened within 50 nautical miles of the airport at heights of 3,000ft or lower.

But anti-airport expansion campaigners expressed scepticism at the claims.
Anne-Marie Griffin, of the Fight the Flights Group, said: “It’s a matter of how much you believe what a Government agency tells you. If there was a risk of a crash, they clearly won’t say anything which might cause panic. “Any increase in the number of flights will definitely increase the risk of a crash. “It doesn’t matter even if there was just one possibility of a crash in this timespan, the effect of a plane coming down over London would be phenomenal.”

The worries come as proposals are currently being considered to change the flightpath of City Airport planes, which could see an extra 83 planes flying over the skies of Wanstead, Leyton and Leytonstone at less than 3,000ft every day, according to air traffic management company NATS.

The cases, known as ‘Airprox’ incidents, are recorded when the distance between aircraft "have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised.”
A spokesman from the CAA said: “Despite large year on year increases in the number of flights operated by UK airlines, the rate of Airprox incidents has decreased significantly in the period 1998-2007.”

London City Airport was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Building 1000 Costs Public Over Two Million A Year

It couldn't get worse for the residents of Newham under the chaotic, disorganised and autocratic leadership of Newham Council. Building 1000 is a subject we've covered before. It is an office block built alongside the Royal Docks by London City Airport. It remained empty for years - obviously the airport had created such huge property and environmental blight on the building that nobody wanted to experience the delights of working in the area, let alone live in the area. Building 1000 momentarily had some use in it's years of sitting empty: it once appeared in a Post Office advert (now that's like a kiss of death) - and in 'Spooks'. It was noted that on each occasion the takes did not include aircraft landing and taking off in the background. They'd have had to do a voice over if so as the excessive noise levels of jets in the area would have stopped all recording.

But don't worry - Newham appears to have come to the rescue of Building 1000, and was happy to sacrifice an alledged 600 council jobs for the pleasure. But it gets worse: Newham appear to have seen fit to moving some of their staff into the blighted building, and you'd expect it to be good value being that nobody else wanted to move into it because of the environmental conditions surrounding it, wouldn't you? Oh no, Newham doesn't do 'economical' when it comes to trying to save face and appears to want to hide and deny that the whole of the area around the airport for a good few miles or so, is so blighted that few want to live or work there - except those connected to the airport- all couple of hundred of them. Clearly Building 1000 laying empty was an embarassment to Newham and their claims that the airport regenerates, when in fact, ummm it appears to stifle and stop regeneration in many ways.

A freedom of information request has revealed the staggering running costs for Building 1000 from 1st April 2008 to 30th November:
  • Rates £993,300
  • Insurance £85,379
  • Cleaning £2,227
  • Management Fee £1,171,053 *

    *This is the cost of the building management and facilities management contract which
    includes security costs
But of course, don't forget, the airport apparently doesn't cause property blight at all, even though other airports such as Stansted and Heathrow do on homes and businesses that are not connected to the aviation industry. It seems that London City Airport costs Newham Residents more than meets the eye, you can now add property blight to the list of 'bills'. Add this to all the security costs at the airport which London taxpayers pay in whole, and which Newham doesn't think that London City Airport should pay, and you'd be forgiven for feeling that this airport is continuously propped up by the public purse. In more ways than one. It seems that the airport not only relies on the public purse to run, it also severely stifles job growth in east London... and a healthy environment.

Monday, December 22, 2008

British Airways Can't Do The Maths

British Airways Press Release (see below)just further misleads the residents of East London and beyond, and those who care about the environment.

Now lets make the article they have released CLEARER to the press and RESIDENTS.

1.British Airways DON'T say that they are YET to receive approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the polluting jets out of London City Airport. The Jets HAVE to meet noise restrictions and we have not seen any notification from the CAA that they have approved the jets operation.

2. BA's Peter Simpson claims the new Embraer is helping them to meet 'environmental objectives'. This is utter NONSENSE when BA are INCREASING flights.

BA claim that the Embraer will improve C02 emissions by UP TO 56%. The trouble is that London City Airport has had a 50% increase in the amount of flights approved by Newham Council - despite the appalling environmental effects on East Londoners.

So lets do the maths:

Apart from the fact that the jets will contribute to excessive noise pollution for 100,000s of residents in the middle of the most densely occupied area of the Country consider:

that a 50% increase in flight expansion out of London City Airport has been approved, this will result in 120,000 flights a year in a RESIDENTIAL AREA, no doubt many of them British Airways' own.

So 50% extra flights of bigger, noisy jets versus UP TO 56% CLAIMED reduction in CO2 emissions...

Hmmm allegedly the maths indicate that this works out at about NO DIFFERENCE in C02 emissions over East London! Isn't it just another case of GREENWASH? For British Airways to make any difference (reduce) in their emissions from London City Airport, they would need to maintain the level of flights they have had in the past at the airport - not increase them, new jets or not.


British Airways has placed firm orders for a fleet of 11 new generation fuel efficient aircraft that will offer passengers unrivalled levels of space and comfort on board.

The airline's wholly owned subsidiary BA CityFlyer is to take delivery of the first of its new Embraer aircraft, which will fly exclusively from London City Airport, from September 2009. ........

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Growing Unrest in the Communities

Plane Stupid's action resulting in the closure of Stansted on Monday, agree with it or not, has once again highlighted the strength of feeling and growing movement against aviation expansion. It was interesting to see that some of the media turned it into a class war. No doubt a helping hand came from the aviation industries PR mercenaries. However they know the truth - this isn't anything to do with a class war at all. Anti expansion campaigners come from all walks of life and are spread across the age ranges. This is more than evident in East and South East London in the campaign against the expansion of London City Airport.

What we all know from history, is that every single group who challenges politicians or big business, no matter how valid their challenge is, get attacked: attempts to discredit, intimidate, smear and threaten them by those whom find them the greatest threat is all part of the aviation industries war against growing objectors. What is interesting however is that these attacks are almost none existent by those in the general public - whether they agree with expansion or not. Instead they all tend to emanate from those connected to, or those involved in the aviation industry. It is hardly an appealing characteristic. They are simply a bunch of blinkered NIMBY's.

The saddest feature of this, is that those who feel threatened by anti expansion campaign groups often result to personal tactics - they seem devoid of considering the bigger picture, or the ability to have a debate. The best comments they seem to come up with are that 'you chose to live under a flight path': they don't mention that flight paths have grown, nor that flight paths that were not used are now being used, nor that air traffic has expanded to a point of detrimental effects over 70% of the UK. Nor do they consider that residents often pre-date airports, or the expansions, or that some residents simply do not have a choice in where they live. They ignore the noise, the effects on children's development, the effect on peoples cardiovascular systems, respiratory systems and the effect on climate change. These pro aviation individuals avoid just about every issue that effects our daily lives as a result of the ever intruding feature of roaring jets.

There is indeed a stereotype to the aggressive comments that are often made by the real NIMBYs who support aviation expansion, but just by chance don't happen to live under a flight path, or have the economic mobility to make sure they never have to endure the effects of the activities they support growing. We are sure that whilst airport bosses get chauffeured in from their homes outside of the noise contour zone, and fly out on a private jet it can be guaranteed they don't think for one minute about: the children in Drew Road School, Silvertown who are struggling with concentration and reading, the residents whose asthma has grown progressively worse with the airports growth, or those parents who have lost a child under 30 due to asthma (Newham has the highest mortality rates in England in under 30s) or the contribution to greenhouse gases.

No, they are concentrating on far more important issues such as how to make more money for shareholders like Credit Suisse and General Electric and their own emperors coat.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Plane Stupid Close Stansted

FTF are not a direct action group but we are sympathetic to the frustration that Plane Stupid feel. Their actions highlight the sheer frustration that anti expansion campaigners and environmentalists have over the too cosy relationship between aviation and government.

London City Airport has been approved by Newham Council to expand flights by 50% to 120,000 flights per annum over the most densely occupied area of the country. However as Baroness Ludford MEP recently stated: it has almost gone unnoticed by the majority of the media despite strong protests and objections.

Boris Johnson, Mayor Of London and Hazel Blears, Secretary of State also ignored the lack of environmental data, the wider effects on the region such as as 50% increase in noise levels and the areas affected by excessive noise levels, and residents objections.

There is no wonder why campaigners feel forced to take direct action in a country where the government only listens to business and ignores the very residents who make communities. The actions of Plane Stupid today, as HACAN's John Stewart has stated - are a taste of things to come.

Please see press release from our colleagues: Stop Stansted Expansion:



The closure of Stansted Airport this morning by climate action group Plane Stupid has highlighted significant concerns that the Government is failing to fulfil its commitment to deliver meaningful action on climate change by supporting the expansion of Stansted and other airports across the UK.

Over 50 protesters from Plane Stupid camped out on the runway and surrounded themselves with fortified security fencing, preventing flights to and from the airport during the early part of the morning.

Responding to news of the action Carol Barbone, Campaign Director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: “No-one can condemn this action without also condemning the recklessness of the Government’s policy on airport expansion and the major contribution which the resulting emissions would make to global warming. BAA’s full frontal attack on the community with its plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow today, with a seven square kilometre landgrab for a second runway destroying historic homes and villages, must also be condemned.”

She continued: “Our own campaign has always been waged strictly within the law and we are pledged to continue to use all legal means to overturn the Stansted expansion plans. Nevertheless, today’s action by Plane Stupid must be seen in context against the backdrop of a continuous assault of the local community by BAA and by a Government that claims to want to tackle climate change but seems determined to allow expansion of the airport.”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

FTF Launch Website

FTF are proud to announce the official launch of their website with it's own domain name.

You will find useful information such as items about us, what you can do, the location and links and interesting stuff etc. We hope that vistors, new and old will find it much easier to find practical and useful information on the website with email links to Newham Council, links to help you find your local MP and MEP etc. You will also find key pieces of research over the coming months.

We hope that all anti expansion campaigners and especially those starting out will find something useful for their own campaigns whilst those residents affected by London City Airport will find it an essential resource and information point.

FTFs blog will continue just as it always has done and can be accessed directly from the website's home page. It will work in conjunction with the website continuing to publish evidence based articles which cut through the spin and lies of London City Airport and LB Newham, with the odd satirical comment for good measure. Our focus continues to be on publishing truthful and informative items whilst empowering the communities.

FTF: The 'Intelligent' website and blog

We are sure our supporters will be pleased to hear that this blog and our fantastic new FTF website have flatteringly been called 'intelligent'.

And the individual who so kindly paid the compliment? Dave Hill of the Guardian in his London Blog. So a BIG thanks to Dave for the compliment!

Now what did that PR 'employee' of London City Airport say about our blog just over a year ago....something about 'tabloid sensationalism'. Once again, London City Airport got it all wrong. If they had ever read a broadsheet, they'd have known.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More LIES and SPIN From H&K Hopeful

Our LCA mole kindly scanned in the latest SPIN from the airport not known for it's honesty: London City Airport.

The airport employee featured who regularly explains complaints from residents (from across the boroughs) away with the excuse of: "they are not LCA planes, they are Heathrow planes" has gone public in the 'low fare regional airlines' November publication.

She seems to be in denial about the 2000 + residents who expressed their objection of the airport contrast to the 'few' who wrote letters of support in favour. Let's just remind ourselves: just over 300 letters in support of expansion were received by Newham - all but a few of them were from aviation and business.

But still the Hill & Knowlton hopeful kids herself that the airport has a 'great relationship' with the community.' Funny, we sense a real hostility to the airport in the communities which we work with - not because the airport is there, but because of the broken promises and the way the airport treat the community.

We'd like to see her be brave enough to hand deliver her 'runway news' and knock on a few doors, asking residents how they feel about the expansion, increasing noise levels, smell of kerosene, and explain why they have been waiting for noise insulation for 8 years and more. She might like to ask whether there are any ashtma sufferers in the households too...

We're not sure she'd get back to the airport in one piece emotionally. Still, if she is confident enough that the community loves and trusts the airport, and they have had such a good relationship - then no doubt she will be knocking on the doors of those most affected in the next few weeks......yeah right.
You can see the full spin article by the airport uploaded on our website. Go to Latest Headlines

Thursday, November 27, 2008

LB Newham Building 1000 costs 600 jobs

This is an article from Unison Newham posted in April 2008. At a time that LB Newham & Sir Robin Wales justify inflicting an additional 46,000 residents to excessive noise levels on the basis of job creation, that never seem to appear. It seems that jobs are being lost due to the expansion of London City Airport. This building is situated right beside LCA's Runway and no private businesses wanted to move in due to the noise and pollution from the airport. Not an ideal place to live or work it seems and could explain why it remained empty for so many years.
Here's an example of how the airport stops employment coming to the area.

"Newham Council is sacking over 600 of its own workers and one of the reasons is to pay for its new headquarters in the Royal Docks. Building 1000 is costing Newham Council £75 million to buy and a further £20 million to refurbish. The money for this white elephant is being found by making over 600 loyal employees redundant.

At the same time as cutting hundreds of jobs the Council intends to carry on spending £millions on lavishly paid consultants who contribute little or nothing to Council services. In the last 12 months over £16 million has been wasted this way and this figure is likely to rise in 2008/9.

Shocked trade union officials were given the news of mass redundancies at a meeting with the Council’s Acting Chief Executive, Chris Wood, on Friday afternoon, 28th March.

Irene Stacey, Branch Secretary of Newham UNISON said:

“I am appalled by the Council’s decision to sack over 600 workers. This will as come as devastating news to hundreds of loyal staff and their families. There can be no justification for this policy of mass redundancies. Newham Council is showing itself to be callous and incompetent – callous because it doesn’t care about livelihoods of hundreds of loyal and dedicated staff; incompetent because of its ill-conceived decision to purchase a building it doesn’t need and can’t afford.”

UNISON has no intention of letting the Council get away with its policy of mass sackings. We will be calling meetings of all the sections affected and an emergency branch meeting to thrash out plans to defend every job. Our Branch Secretary is writing to all the other trade unions in the Council calling for a united stand against the Council’s plans – including, if necessary, strike action."

For more information contact Newham UNISON on
020 8555 9351

City Airport Security: Costs Taxpayers £24 Million since 2004

As seen on the Newham Recorder website: City Airport costs to London Taxpayers, yet more freeloading by London City airport:

THE Metropolitan Police Service has spent £24 million policing London City Airport in Silvertown over the past five years, it has emerged.

The figure came to light after London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones tabled a question on the cost. Mayor of London Boris Johnson's written response detailed the money spent on policing in each of the last five financial years.
In 2004/05 it was £2 million, £5.5 million in 2005/06, £5.3 million in 2006/07, £5.5 million in 2007/08 and £5.6 million for the current financial year.

However, these figures seem relatively small when compared to the amount the MPS spends on policing Heathrow. Over the last five years the force has spent £196 million on the west London airport, with a £43.4 million outlay in the current financial year.
But, unlike London City Airport, [LCA let taxpayers pay 100% of their security costs] the MPS recovers around 70 per cent of what it spends every year from Heathrow.

Full story by Larry Ferguson in this week's Recorder
Below is the cost to all tax payers for Heathrow & London City Airport

Passengers 68,066,028
Security £43,400,000
Minus Rebate 70% £30,380,000
Total Taxpayer Cost - £13,020,000
£0.19p - Average Security Cost Per Passenger.

London City Airport
Passengers 2,904,013
Security £5,500,000
Minus Rebate 0
Total Taxpayer Cost - £5,500,000
£1.89p - Average Security Cost Per Passenger.
So per passenger London Airport costs £1.70 more. Thats 1000% more!!!

STOP PRESS: Private Eye's - Smart Alec

In the latest edition of Private Eye (28 Nov 08) you will find a rather interesting article in the 'Rotten Boroughs' section, p13 entitled 'Smart Alec'. Your local newsagent will happily sell you a copy of the genius publication for £1.50.

Regular readers of the Eye will be aware that Newham Council and Sir Robin Wales are a frequent feature in the Rotten Boroughs section - which is indicative of the less than healthy activities and interests that the local council seems to be happy to be promote and be part of. Other names mentioned are : Hill & Knowlton and Boris, Mayor of London.

"Last month Newham council voted in favour of allowing London City Airport to increase flights from 80,000 to 120,000 a year - an extra 150 flights a day. The protests of east London residents worried about noise , pollution and global warming were brushed aside. Anti-airport campaigners were dismayed at the about-turn of London mayor Boris Johnson, who had said he opposed the airport's expansion and then said he was actually in favour of it.
Newham labour councillor and City Airport consultative committee member Alec Kellaway is a big supporter of the airport, faithfully following the line of Newham mayor "Sir" Robin Wales that it is "good for jobs" andhelps regenerate the area. Alas , very little of the business that comes through the airport actually stays in the borough - although there are oppurtunities for cleaners.
City Airport earlier this year hired big-hitting PR firm Hill & Knowlton to spin its case. H&K is owned by the US media/PR conglomerate WPP - in which according to Newham council's register of members interests , Cllr Alec Kellaway happens to own shares worth more than £25,000. No conflict of interest there , then."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

London City Airport To Meet With Newham 26-11-08

Our mole informs us that Charles Buchanan and colleagues are off to Newham Town Hall Annex tomorrow to meet with Sunil et al of Newham Planning. The point? To discuss the secret section 106 of course.

Strangely enough it appears that the section 106 might be as much a mystery to some particular LCA staff - they've been searching for details on the section 106 on this blog all day! The current section 106 is available from FTF to all LCA senior management at the cost of £10 to cover photocopy charges - oh, and don't forget to send a SAE.

LCA - The Freeloaders of East London

At the Select Committee on Transport 9 May 2007, yet again it appears that London City Airport c/o Richard Gooding has been shirking it full financial responsiblities. The moths must really build up in LCAs gold coin purse. Before reading the following, keep in mind that LCA consistently tells residents in Newham that LCA is responsible for the regeneration, particularly in the Royal Docks. They have indeed even claimed that it was down to them that the DLR came to town, always inferring that they have invested so much finance into the area and into the DLR - seems they didn't invest as much as they'd like you to think:
Q595 Chairman: How do you think dedicated services ought to be funded from airports as public transport?

Mr de Cani: The DLR extension has been funded primarily through Transport for London so it is publicly funded. However, there are small contributions through planning gain agreements, section 106 agreements. London City Airport has made a small contribution to the extension of the order of about £2 million. That compares to a capital cost of about 140 million. We would have liked it if they had made a bigger contribution and we tried to do that but the railway is serving a whole range of other objectives and contributing to the regeneration of east London so this extension was not just about the airport. We think they got a good deal.

Chairman: I am sure they did.

You may also recall that LCA refuse to pay
anything towards the
£7million pounds annual security cost for their airport. Len Duval GLA and MPA Chair asked:
Are you aware that London City Airport provides no cost towards the security of its perimeters and, in a sense, that we and part of the GLA family are subsidising them? Before you enter into commercial agreements with London City Airport or give any undertaking that security, the primacy of security around our airports and users of airports comes first and therefore that they should not be subsidised by London taxpayers, they should make a contribution like other airports; even Heathrow are cooperating in that. There seems to be a real problem with London City Airport ; they do not seem to want to even engage in a conversation about costs and they are quite adamant they are not going to pay it.
And so the penny pinching, but money grabbing from London taxpaying residents continues, whilst Sir Robin Wales turns a blind eye, and Richard Gooding claims the airport brings 'prosperity' for him maybe, but not for the residents of east London. And so far in 20 years it's only bought just over a 100 jobs.

Hill & Knowlton and Newham Council, Keeping it in the family

Last week we found out that Cllr Alec Kellaway holds £25K + shares in WPP - the owner of Hill & Knowlton. No wonder Cllr Kellaway was pretending to residents that expansion would not be at any cost, whilst being a secret squirrel and submitting a letter in support of the expansion behind their backs. A slight conflict of interest wouldn't you say? Something about lining one's own pocket and business interests. Not a very honest move for a lay reader.
Today - yet another connection between Hill & Knowlton and Newham Council has come to light:

Paula Feery
Associate Director at Hill & Knowlton
London, United Kingdom

Community Relations Manager at London Borough of Newham

Paula Feery’s Summary
Key player in the Learning and Skills Council's current ‘In Our Hands’ national campaign to inspire everyone to learnMedia and stakeholder relations for UK government agency with an £11 billion annual spendCommunications strategist for national and international programmes

Paula Feery’s Specialties:
Public sector media relations and internal commsCorporate communications - profile and brand development. Creating fully integrated PR/marketing/advertising campaigns

Associate Director
Hill & Knowlton
(Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; WPPGY; Public Relations and Communications industry)
March 2006 — Present (2 years 9 months)
Public sector - education/employer B2B communications, public awareness campaigns for the Learning and Skills Council

Community Relations Manager
London Borough of Newham
(Government Agency; 5001-10,000 employees; Government Administration industry)
November 2004 — August 2005 (10 months)
BME communications, change management for this Olympic borough

Oh joy, lets keep in the family!

Friday, November 21, 2008

LCA Boss Can't Give Tickets Away!

Charles Buchanan Director of Business Development at London City Airport was alledgedly recently overheard saying that he 'couldn't give flight tickets away'. So business is looking really good for London City Airport then!! No surprise why H & K had been forced to switch on to the confidence building PR for LCA a month or so ago - to hide the reality once again.
But the director soon moved on to a far more critical business issue: amusing himself with a tale about how he left home one morning wearing two odd shoes - which his colleagues and BAP man didn't find quite as amusing as the director found himself. A man who can be so careless as to put on two odd shoes and leaving home is entrusted to be the director of business development? Good choice Credit Suisse and GE - sounds like a real recipe for, something. We can see now, why LCA have such a fundamental problem in not being able to follow simple planning laws set upon them.

Oh happy days: seems there's a mole in LCA and a director who just doesn't know when to be discreet.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fight The Flights At The Houses Of Parliament

FTF were recently invited to speak on the platform at an event in the Houses of Parliament, organised by Friends of The Earth , and hosted by Paul Truswell MP on the proposed new 'Planning Bill'. We were honoured to be asked, and to stand alongside other successful campaigners from the local communities.

It gave us the opportunity to tell MPs our experience of the failings in London City Airports application - which required consistent objections and requests for clarification and further information - all of which happened to be on the bits that the airport wanted to bury as they were negative. To be able to object and technically challenge is crucial - RPS, Bickerdike Allan Partner and LCA all have their own agendas - to make money. Not too much else matters to them - and that is why the communities voice is so important and the current proposed Planning Bill is bad news for communities.

For those of you not familiar with the proposed bill, it would essentially move all MAJOR applications away from local councils and into the hands of an unelected board of individuals.

It will:

1. remove the meaningful right for communities to participate in decisions about where they live
2. not take account of climate change

As we all know the current system is not perfect, it relies upon an efficient and fair council that is objective and not biased or autocratic. Newham Council clearly does not fall into such a description, however communities do at least get a chance to represent their concerns, even if Newham don't listen to them and ignore requirements. Hazel Blears however is even misguided enough to support that developers carry out their own consultations in this new bill - can you imagine the advertisement which masquerades as a consultation, that London City Airport would carry out? Probably the same one they have already carried out with their 'partners' LB Newham. Statements made by Richard Gooding the CEO of LCA such as 'there will be no increase in noise levels' would be even more commonplace than they have been in such a system. But this time it would be endorsed by a ridiculous piece of legislation which is the biggest threat to democracy since post war. Public inquiries would no longer be available communities.

Still that is the way LB Newham seems to like it - either remove funding from groups that don't play their game, or ostracise anyone who dares to object or criticise the council, or its Mayor. They call that totalitarianism don't they?

Hazel Blears wants this new planning bill - she says to speed things up and refers to residents as 'minnows' and the developers as 'sharks' to justify removing the democratic rights of residents to have a say about their communities . She might be right about the business/developer 'sharks' but she is completely out of touch in referring to residents in communities as 'minnows'. She should have realised that when she sees the growing group of aviation anti expansion campaigners and direct action campaigners. Minnows they are not.

The way to speed planning up is to ensure that developers such as London City Airport submit decent, accurate and detailed applications in the first place. They did not, and even on approval they had not. That developers choose to overlook the negative impacts of their plans slows the process down, it is the applicants that Blears should be looking to if she wants to speed up the process.

Blears wants to stop you asking questions but do you trust an unelected board to put you and your community above the requests of the sharks? We say no.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hazel Blears Backs Big Business But Ignores London ‘Crash Zone’

The Government Office for London has released the decision by Hazel Blears NOT to call in the application by London City Airport to expand flights by 50% from 76,000 flights to 120,000 flights per year. This is despite London City Airport submitting an application in which it admitted the failure to monitor and record noise data for nearly a decade in breach of planning agreements.

Data submitted on noise, employment, air and environmental effects are felt to be deeply flawed, inaccurate and misleading. It also completely overlooks the safety impact on roads such as the Connaught Bridge - in conflict with the Department of Transport guidance.
Crash zone maps (public safety zones) and data submitted by London City Airport and also by NATS all indicated that the increase in air traffic would result in a substantial escalation of risk to people in the vicinity of the airport. This was not assessed by Newham Planning authority. Government guidance puts the responsibility on local planning authorities to ensure community safety in planning decisions.

The London Borough of Newham approved the application in the face of widespread opposition and outrage from residents, councillors, surrounding boroughs and environmental campaign groups. The effects of expansion are widespread - across at least 8 London boroughs and the boroughs of Essex and Kent, many of which received little or no consultation.

Residents have accused Hazel Blears of ‘turning a blind eye’ to the missing and flawed data and ‘putting business before the health and safety of residents’ in the areas most affected. Once again, we see the government supporting aviation expansion at any cost, risking fines by the European Union at increased air pollution and putting residents at risk in the most densely populated area in England. By not calling this in Hazel Blears is failing in her duty of care to the residents of East London in her role as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

London City Airport is the busiest airport in the middle of a residential area in the UK and the effects are widespread, and felt all the more acutely.

Fight the Flights sends a clear message to the government; residents who would have never have considered campaigning or direct action are now being forced to do one or both. Residents anger is growing at not being listened to by government and it is spreading across the country.

Over the past year we have reached out to residents to help voice their concerns. We have exposed the lies, misconceptions and the lobbyist tactics used by the airport to push through this expansion and the failure of Newham Council to put residents ahead of big business. The safety,care and welfare of the residents is paramount to us.

We are united and support the other main campaign groups such as: Stop Stanstead Expansion (who have just launched their own high court legal challenge) and HACAN (Heathrow Association Campaign Against Noise) .

More news to follow...

Jim Fitzpatrick Confirms: London City Airport Breaks Operating Conditions

In a response to a local MPs questions regarding the consistent breaches of planning law by London City Airport - Jim Fitzpatrick, Aviation Minister and MP for Poplar has confirmed that 3 flights have taken off outside of operating hours in 2007/2008. Rather an embarassing admission coming from the aviation minister himself!

And what action has Newham taken regarding these 3 breaches (alongside all the others)? Fitzpatrick didn't mention that, unsurprisingly. But we do know what the answer is don't we: predicatably no enforcement action was taken.

Perhaps a pat on the back and a promise of expansion by 'friends', and Sir Robin's alledged comments of "you can't say no to big business" all helped them forget the ghastly business....of being caught out. Ahh, pity the airport! And while we are on 'pity' that is the focus of the current campaign thought up by the reported six figure sum paid to Hill & Knowlton -'pity the airport' LCA are so warm, fluffy and love and value human beings so much...Yes so much that they are going to buy carbon credits from other parts of the world so they can dump loads of harmful carbon dust in your air, which will irritate respiratory conditions such as asthma and increase noise so that it raises your blood pressure. Oh yes, and you will have to stay inside, because it's too noisy outside and you will only complain.

Get prepared for a replay from the 'Wales Fanzine' the affectionate term that the outstanding Private Eye has for the Newham Recorder: 'it was for the children' and it was 'only the three times' and the female director 'is a mother herself'. But of course - it was simply the fanzines 'word for word copy of the Hill and Knowlton aided press release.

We knew we'd need those paper sick bags one day....oh yuk.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Noise Complaints Soar to New Levels at LCA

Noise complaints have soared at London City Airport over the past year.

The effects of the increased use of jets, flights and patterns of flights have had a huge effect on not only Newham residents but also those across neighbouring boroughs. Of course, the airport tries to explain these away as being mostly 'Heathrow flights' and due to the 'summer months'.

Nice try by LCA, just a shame those complaints which do refer to Heathrow planes are so few compared to those complaints which are accurately in relation to LCA flights, and we are not sure if it passed them by, but it wasn't a particularly hot or dry summer, so the privelege of spending time outside was minimal and cannot be 'blamed' for the increase in complaints! You've got to laugh at the lame excuses they come up with.

More news on 'complaints' to follow.

Newham & LCA Keep it in 'the family' - UPDATE - Cllr Alec Kellaway Looks After His Interests

Click on the image to enlarge.

When Cllr Alec Kellaway wrote in to support London City Airport's growth - he strangely omitted to say that he owned over £25K of shares in WPP.

WPP is a subsidiary of Hill & Knowlton - the PR alledged mercenaries - who have reportedly been paid a six figure sum - to 'push the application through' by London City Airport.

We feel a Standards Board complaint coming on.

Now just fancy that!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Fight The Flights

Yes, we're one year old and what a year it's been. We've gone from strength to strength, made some fantastic friends, and have seen the most amazing skills and community spirit.

We've uncovered the dirty little secrets that London City Aiport and Newham Council tried to hide from residents, we've highlighted flawed and missing data in the planning application, seen flash mobs at Newham Town Hall, we've received funding, we're listed on the BBC and known in media circles for our reliability of information and evidence (lets try not to think about the Newham Recorder for now) , FTF is a known name in the anti expansion campaigning world. We now see cross party support, we've been to City Hall and next we go to the Houses of Parliament. In one year we have achieved and learnt so much.

But most of all FTF is community focussed, we actually care about the communities we live in and the people that make them communities. It is the work we have done with residents, and meeting some of the most amazing people which has given us the encouragement and focus to continue. We are fed up of Newham overlooking the constant breaches of planning law by LCA and the abuse of residents and communities as a result. It's about time Sir Rob stopped cosying up to LCA and parading local children in LCA sweatshirts of a company which has consistently breached planning law conditions. What sort of example is that to set to children? Ignore planning law and you'll get rich and get some influential contacts? Tut, tut.

We are here for the long haul - sorry for the pun. Roll on the future, we're waiting.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Newham and its Councillors Suffer Ongoing Amnesia

We wondered, is there something in the water at Newham Town Hall, or is it something that is in the Town Hall which appears to affect the accurate recollection of councillors when they make statements about London City Airport and the communities? This is particularly noticeable when they don't mention the planning departments inability to enforce planning conditions against the aiport and how the airport keeps breaking planning condition law - all to the detriment of residents.

The councillors tend not to mention that 2 public inquiries have been held over the airport amongst fierce opposition against expansion, and certain promises were made to residents - all of which have been broken. They also don't mention that THEIR council has neglected their duty to an extent of gross maladministration for 8 years in not enforcing the planning conditions. But no, the councillors haven't mentioned that, they clearly are not affected, and it doesn't worry them: they've had 8 YEARS TO ACT after all and have done NOTHING. Councillor Graham Lane appears to fall into that category.

Cllr Lane strangely stated in the Newham Recorder that Ken Livingstone supports London City Airports expansion. Ken Livingstone has not supported the airport expansion (and it is well documented if you care to research), in fact he wanted to see it closed down. He wanted to see much needed homes for the Newham residents who continue to live in substandard housing, or are termed as 'homeless' built in the area. As Cllr Lane should know Newham has one of the worst housing shortages in England.

They are clearly out of touch with the residents in the communities affected, despite residents growing anger with Newham from across the boroughs. Robin Wales has a problem on his hands, and it just isn't going to go away, no matter how much they continue to pour spin to try and bury the 'plane truth'.

So just who are the councillors representing?

Voters, or London City Airport?

"Increase movements each year [at LCA] until something bad happens" - Pprune

FTFs pilot friend has alerted us to a thread on Pprune - the Professional pilots rumour network:

"City airport by its pure existence is a pain in the a**e.lack of stands, ancient procedures and c**p flow..... but lets increase the movements each year until something bad happens".

Quote from Pprune member who started thread on Thames Radar/London City Airport Controllers: 04/11/08

That just about sums up how most resident objectors feel across the boroughs of east and south east London, Kent and Essex.

Then follows a comment from a 27 year old 'not in my backyard' pro aviation, at any cost 'individual' who recommends some "tridents" and "VC10s down the approach" to put residents concerns and issues with noise, and breaches of the section 106 into perspective. He hates his neighbours apparently. We suspect the feeling might be mutual between him and his neighbours. (pictured above VC10)

Another individual claims 'the' objector lives in the 'penthouse flat, that was built after the airport' - apparently you are the only one objecting! Whoever is the person in the penthouse flat? However they've linked that comment to the Newham Recorder so at least their keeping in tradition with the paper in printing inaccurate biased statements.

Prune member must know something we don't, but he also doesn't know a lot of things that we do...such as how many objectors have lived in the area for 3 generations or more and far outdate the airports short life. Or is he making the point that residents have no right in a democracy to object if they moved to the area in the past 20 years despite the airport promising to be nothing other than a stolport for small business aircraft?He happened to forget to quote that there were over 1000 objection letters and almost 1000 signatures against expansion. Hmm there must be more penthouse flats in east and south east London than we thought!

Ignorance is bliss for some. Could they possibly dig deeper holes for themselves?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Newham Recorder FORCED to Report BOTH Sides Of Story

The Newham Recorder has been forced to print a follow up story on the advert by London City Airport in last weeks newspaper.

Residents from across the boroughs complained to Editor Colin Grainger, and Chief Executive Angie Carwood that Colin had consistently put to print unbalanced reporting on the airport over the past year, all bar around 3 items out of double figure features. Colin Grainger has denied this accusation and residents have requested that he provide the evidence of balanced reporting: he has failed to do this in nearly 8 weeks of waiting and it looks unlikely that he will do so. Clearly he doesn't have the evidence to argue against residents accusations.

What the Newham Recorder article didn't inform residents of was that Colin Grainger, and the Chief Executive were advised that unless reporting was more balanced now and in the future (that means two sides of the story should always be presented in articles) that a complaint would be made to the Press Complaints Commission. In the media world it is standard good practice to present balanced articles.

Clearly the Editor felt that he was on unsteady footing if a complaint was sent in to the PCC, and decided to print the follow up you see on the Newham Recorders website today.

What is worth noting is that the only individuals who appear to defend the airport are paid officials and some businesses. Although the Newham Recorder likes to make out that there are just a handful of residents who object, the 1000 objection letters, and just under a thousand signatures and requests for public inquiries from: Bexley Council, MP John Austin, Cllr Alan Craig and various other individuals and businesses seems to be something that Newham, and the Newham Recorder have to be forced to report upon.

Oh dear.

As for Alec Kelleway and Robin Wales - they ignore that the airport has consistently breached section 106 conditions for 8 years to the detriment of local residents. This means that they clearly condone the breaking of planning law. Residents have approached them directly on these issues and Robin Wales was alledged to say ''you can't say no to big business''. They should both be throughly ashamed of themselves as both are indicative of a borough which claims to be democratic but clearly is not, and also selects who it applies the law to. You know what they say: power corrupts. Let's hope that residents make their unhappiness known at the next ballot box.

Residents are now keeping a close eye on the behaviour of LB Newham and the Newham Recorder. They will pursue issues through the correct procedures to make individuals accountable as and when they need to.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

LCA BA Cityflyer Has Technical Malfunction on Take Off

Incident: BA Cityflyer RJ85 at London on Oct 31st 2008, technical malfunction
Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Oct 31st 2008 18:58Z, last updated Friday, Oct 31st 2008 18:59Z

A BA Cityflyer Avro RJ-85, registration G-LCYB performing flight CJ8767 from London City,EN (UK) to Zurich (Switzerland), diverted to London Stansted,EN due to an unspecified technical malfunction. The crew declared emergency almost immediately after takeoff, turned left and went straight to Stansted. British Airways confirmed the incident stating, that engineers are currently examining the airplane. The passengers have been bussed back to London City Airport and will board another airplane to Zurich.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Embraer 190 Trial Flights On Saturday 1 November- What next?

As you can see 'green technology' is really influencing flights at London City Airport. And pigs can fly (also dogs).

Despite Embraer announcing that trial flights will take place this Saturday in AIT and on all over the web, London City Airport Gary Hodgetts and LB Newham Planning Sunil Sahadadevan have curiously denied this and said it is incorrect. They have also confirmed that the airport operational hours will be as they are normally on a saturday: 07:00 until 12:30. So will Saturday confirm the airport and Newham to be telling the truth?

The trial flights of the Embraer were announced by Embraer themselves and have been reported on various news sites including UK Airport News Info.

Clearly any residents spotting a Embraer 190 on Saturday, there's a nice photo in one of our earlier posts, or flights out of hours should note the time and date and let us know. But of course, LCA and Newham wouldn't want to mis-lead residents, or would they??

Camcorders, and cameras to the ready!

LCA Breaks Operating Rules - Blame The Child

The Newham Recorder - otherwise known as the London City Airport Recorder, whoops we mean the Newham Recorder, has once again surpassed it's own standards of biased, misleading reporting in favour of LCA.

Can you spot the comments from residents in the article, or reference to the Section 106 operating conditions? No? Well you won't find them because the Editor Colin Grainger generally appears to encourage his reporters to write reports on LCA from only one source - LCA themselves (or Hill and Knowlton LCA's PR company).

So we see that Hill and Knowlton of tobacco advertising fame, have advised LCA to use the 'child' or family as a reason for breaking their legal obligations. Does that pull your heartstrings, H & K trying to make out that the airport shows compassion for human beings? We're glad they bought that issue up:
  • a jet taking off after 22:30 is NOT ALLOWED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
  • it is irrelevant who is on that flight

  • where they are going

  • what they are doing

But we wonder, are LCA saying that they would discriminate against sending a plane of thirty something businessmen off after allowed operating hours, but would, and did send a plane off out of hours because it had a family aboard who were going on holiday? Isn't that discrimination?

What Hill and Knowlton and LCA fail to acknowledge is that a 100 people on a plane taking off out of operating hours affected:

  • 100,000s of residents in their homes who are supposed to be protected by the section 106 - but have rarely been to date:

  • residents were not only disturbed in Newham but also across neighbouring boroughs

  • it disturbed the elderly, babies, children and the sick

But silly us, they aren't important are they? But compared to 100 paying passengers having their flight cancelled because by sending it would be a breach of operating conditions, and breaking the 'quiet time' the airport are supposed to allow us all overnight, - residents didn't matter and LCA let their 'flight of fancy' take place yet again

Trebles all round for Hill and Knowlton and LCA. Once again showing that profit comes first - residents come....well nowhere!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Worst EU Lobbying Awards - 2008

Campaigning against the expansion of LCA flights has certainly been an eye opener for the underhand tactics that lobbyists use, and the double standards they employ. So why not cast your eye over the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008 and cast your vote:


We couldn't possibly tell you who to vote for...but why not read IATA's nomination and see how you feel:

(The following has been extracted from the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008 web pages)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Nominated for its deceptive lobbying campaign to avoid CO2 reduction obligations in the aviation sector.

IATA, the lobby group of Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France and other airlines, has used a combination of greenwash PR and heavy-handed threats to convince EU decision-makers that airlines should be excluded from the EU emissions trading scheme or at least be given free pollution permits if included.

Aviation is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions in Europe, but according to the website created on behalf of IATA’s (Enviro.Aero) and adverts in major international newspapers featuring flowers and butterflies, airlines only contribute 2% to global man-made CO2 emissions. This figure dates from 1992 and omits all the other non-CO2 emissions and indirect effects at high altitude, downplaying the real damage being caused by aviation. If these are taken into account, aviation’s global contribution is estimated as between 3–7%, while in the EU, aviation’s contribution to climate change was estimated as between 4.7–11.6% in 2005.

As MEPs considered what action to take, airline lobbyists continuously threatened that reduction obligations for the sector would be an economic disaster and would result in legal challenges by other countries. In fact IATA is actively encouraging these legal challenges themselves by lobbying Australia and other governments to take legal action against the EU. IATA’s aggressive lobbying was partly successful: in July 2008 MEPs voted for emissions cuts by airlines of 3-5% from 2012 onwards, providing 85% of the industry’s pollution permits for free.

IATA is currently staging an exhibition at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, promoting their misleading information to an even wider audience.

Vote for IATA if you object to corporate greenwash and scare-mongering tactics to avoid greenhouse gas emission reductions

Additional information :

Climate forcing of aviation emissions in high altitudes and comparison of metrics ­ An update according to the Fourth Assessment Report, IPCC 2007, Hartmut Grassl and Dietrich Brockhagen, December 2007.

Clearing the air: the myth and reality of aviation and climate change”, CAN Europe ­ T&E, July 2006, p.33.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cllr Alan Craig, CPA Newham - Calls for Public Inquiry

In a press release Newham Council's opposition leader: Cllr Alan Craig has called for a public inquiry into the plans to expand London City Airport flights:

The decision of Newham Borough Council to wave through plans for a 50 per cent increase in flights to London City Airport must go to a public enquiry, according to Council Opposition Leader, Cllr Alan Craig of the Christian Peoples Alliance party.

In a question last night at Full Council to Newham’s executive Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, Cllr Craig said the Council’s planning procedures had not addressed fundamental issues relating to the expansion such as the growth, role and future of the airport. He said it was vital that the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears should now ‘call in’ the application so that it goes before a public enquiry.

“There is a cosy consensus between the Tory London Mayor and Labour’s flagship local authority that London City Airport should be expanded, despite all the evidence of the damage that will inflicted on East End residents by rising noise pollution and air pollution, together with an increase in emissions that cause global warming”, commented Cllr Alan Craig. Alan Craig added: “There is deep anger in Newham that current restrictions are simply ignored.

Last Friday, London City Airport permitted a jet to take off after operational hours. Flights are not allowed to take off after 22:30 – yet the Airport allowed a clear breach of their planning conditions. And Newham admit freely that the Airport have allowed flights to operate out of hours in the past. Despite these flagrant abuses, Newham Council have not taken any action against the airport.” In July 2008, Newham Council approved planning permission for London City Airport to increase flights from 80,000 to 120,000 per annum. Over 10,000 letters were sent to local residents of which 1109 replied, 801 with objections and 308 in support. However, the damage caused by noise and air pollution will impact very many more residents on both sides of the river Thames, who would have a proper say at a public enquiry.

Praising work done to raise key issues by campaign groups Fight the Flights, Stop London City Airport and Plane Stupid, Cllr Alan Craig concluded: “Newham have not addressed properly the question of noise pollution.

A local teacher told planners how his students had carried out a project monitoring aircraft noise around their neighbourhood over a number of months, and consistently read average levels of 85 – 90db. This is well in excess of what the airport admits to – anything over 57db is judged to be a nuisance. And the Airport need to address the concerns of opponents who say no reliable noise measurements have been taken since 2000. Fight the Flights have a point when they say the levels in the airport’s application seem to be from data that is over 8 years old.

How Would LCA Flight Expansion Affect You?

If permission is granted for the additional flights 40, 384 flights over 260 weekdays, the airport will be allowed to operate an additional 155 flights per day. (quote from John Austin, MP)


  • 447 NOISE EVENTS EVERY DAY measuring 80dbs and above for over 60,000 residents in the noise contours

  • 100,000's MORE RESIDENTS affected by noise disturbance below 80dbs, COVERING 5-6 BOROUGHS.

  • This means a flight would have to TAKE OFF CONSISTENTLY EVERY 2 MINUTES AND 14 SECONDS OVER A 16 HOUR OPERATING DAY to achieve the annual flight capacity that LB Newham have approved.

  • In reality flights take off in batches, with 90 seconds in between each flight. Newham approved LCA in 2007 (WITHOUT CONSULTING THE COMMUNITIES) to put as many flights out in any one day as they wish (but adhering to their current annual limits), THIS MEANS THAT ON THE BUSIEST DAYS RESIDENTS WILL EXPERIENCE A FLIGHT EVERY 90 SECONDS FROM 07:00 to 22:00.

Why not let them know how you feel about this - DEMAND a public inquiry.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lawyers Sharpen Pencils

FTF has been informed that the Government Office for London is still waiting for LB Newham and LCA to agree the planning conditions (section 106). Until the conditions are agreed the application is not formally approved, despite having been approved at the planning meeting.

As soon as the conditions are agreed the Secretary of State will be in a position to announce whether she wishes to 'call in' the application for a public inquiry. FTF, other individuals and organisations are waiting for this decision as this will then dictate what legal action can be taken. Our legal advisors are already preparing for various scenarios.

It does seem outrageous that a planning committee can approve an application which has not even had the conditions agreed. This means that residents have no idea which conditions will be set, and with the history of LCA and Newham - it appears they don't spend too much time caring for the communities at all. Letting LB Newham discuss such important issues behind closed doors with LCA is nothing more than a disaster waiting to happen - look at the current situation for evidence of that.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Coming Soon - Boris Johnson Rewards Goodings Failure

Coughing and A 'Stench' in East London?

City airport reopens after evacuation over stench

Saturday, 25 Oct 2008
London City airport (LCA) has reopened after being evacuated yesterday due to a suspicious smell at the airport raised safety fears.

Many passengers at the airport reported frequent coughing and irritation resulting in 2,000 people having to vacate the airport's premises. Firefighters were asked to investigate the cause of the strange smell and the building was reopened two hours later.

A spokeswoman for the airport, Rupa Haria, told Bloomberg that a suspect package had been found in the ladies' toilets.

Normal operations have now been resumed at the transport hub. LCA is the capital's smallest international airport

It struck us here at FTF towers that coughing and strange stenches are a daily part of life in East London....mostly the stench of kerosene from the jet centre, and from jets burning off fuel, and the coughing that insues in the residents who reside closest to the airport.

Put that alongside Newham having the highest mortality rates in under 30s with asthma in the whole of the country and disproportionately high levels of respiratory conditions it seems that the whole of Newham should perhaps be evacuated?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bigger, noisier planes are coming to the skies near you.

And LCA told you they weren't going to operate bigger planes? The following story is seen in Flightglobal.

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer has scheduled a range of E-190 flight trials at London City Airport for 1 November with a view to securing steep approach certification for the type by late 2009.

Aircraft operating into London City Airport must perform a 5.5° approach, and manufacturers must demonstrate capability for an approach of up to 7.5°.

Embraer is planning to certify two of its four-member E-Jet family for London City operations. The E-170 secured its approval last summer and the larger variant was slated to follow suit by the first quarter of 2009 under plans which were detailed at a pre-Farnborough air show media briefing in June.

It appears that timelines for certification of the larger family member have slipped. Speaking at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) General Assembly in the UK city of Manchester, Embraer senior VP for Europe, Middle East and Africa Luiz Fuchs said: "The Embraer 190 will be certified [for London City operations] by the end of next year, in the last quarter of 2009."

He adds that the type is scheduled to perform some trials at London City Airport on 1 November. These tests will include take-offs, landings and manoeuvring.

More Calls For A Public Inquiry

We told you it wasn't over, and it certainly isn't:

Bexley Council has called for a public inquiry and John Austin, MP for Erith and Thamesmead has once again repeated his request to the Secretary of State Hazel Blears for a 'call in' of the application by London City Airport to expand to 120,000 flights per year.

In John Austin MP's press release dated 12 October he states:

" Many of my constituents are naturally concerned about increased levels of noise and atmospheric pollution if the planning application were granted. If permission is granted for the additional flights 40, 384 flights over 260 weekdays, the airport will be allowed to operate an additional 155 flights per day. Constituents have expressed to me their belief that this proposal will lead to an unacceptable increase in noise and disturbance and will lead to a deterioration in their amenities. It is therefore extremely dissapointing to hear that if planning permission were to be granted, to London City Airport's sound insulation grant scheme would not be made available to any Bexley residents and I am urging the airport to reconsider this stance particularly with regard to my constituents living in Thamesmead."

"John also backed Bexley Council's motion passed unanimously at its planning control committee meeting on 9 October asking the Secretary of State to call the decision in. The motion proposed by Belvedere Councillor Daniel Francis committed the London Borough of Bexley to also ask the Secretary of State to call in the decision."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

London City Airport and Newham Council: A Dysfunctional, But Loving Relationship

As documented in various other accounts around the web, the events of last Wednesday's planning meeting were truly spectacular and perfectly displayed the dubious and underhand nature of the London Borough of Newham. We'd recommend anyone who hasn't attended a Newham Planning meeting to attend the very next one and witness the ineptitude of the ruling party and their officers.

First of all three Cllrs had sent their apologies in (despite some being in the room nearby, probably having a glass of Cristal with LCA) as they had been so busy accepting gifts over the past year or so from LCA that it was rather inappropriate for them to attend.

Then the Chairman wanted to try and stop the Chair of FTF speaking (which one of the room stewards commented without prompt that he found very unusual and had never heard it said before: "if she arrives after the start, she cannot talk"), to then moving on to Newham's endless presentation on their love affair with the corporate 'experts'. It was nothing more than an airport advertisement with no mention of 8 years of uninforced planning conditions and very little attention paid to the negative effects:
  • no mention of the residents who have been waiting for noise insulation for 6 years too long,

  • the lack of reliable and consistent noise readings for 8 years

  • noise contours based on 8 year old estimated data

  • a PSZ that ignored DFT methodology

  • the failing of meeting anywhere near the previous claims of employment growth,

  • the lack of reliable and consistent air quality readings

  • a consultation which never went anywhere near consulting even all those whom live in the 'estimated' noise mapping area

...and a whole host of other appalling effects which Newham has purposely overlooked in their love affair with LCA, Bickerdike Allen Partners and RPS. The whole application is based on flawed data and LIES. Of course this was all helped along by the PR company, Hill and Knowlton, (who told people that smoking didn't cause cancer, even when they knew it did). The spin merry henchmen, and woman were watching the events of the evening from the video room. LCA keep such good company. The mutual admiration was almost tangible - in fact we could have sworn that the political had joined the corporate and had become one.

Surely not in a democracy? But then you remember it's Newham Council, which has a more than colourful history and damaging reputation. The ruling regime over there doesn't deal in facts, it rather likes to use weasel words to skirt around the truths...such as "it is not true that there were no readings taking in 8 years" - when in fact it is true, as the few readings that were taken, when the noise monitoring equipment just by chance was working (which wasn't often) were deemed to be unreliable and inadequate. So, no RELIABLE noise readings of London City Airport's activities in 8 years then.

Bickerdike Allen Partners rep look terrified when he stood up on behalf of the airport, but braced himself enough to praise Newham for their stringent noise management of the airport. What, after 8 years of LCA failing to present actual noise measurements? We think, what he was really saying was 'thank you so much, for overlooking the unprofessionalism and lack of commitment that LCA has shown towards the planning condition requiring them to provide actual noise readings annually'. 'Never mind that the locals have suffered because of this - we think your great'.

It just so happened that FTF had Bickerdike Allen's report in their hand - which states that 'no reliable noise data has been collected since 2000'. It is quite surprising that BAP would make such disingenous statements with the hard evidence of the facts in the public realm. So what price honesty BAP, or should we simply ask 'how much will it cost to...'?

Not surprisingly after the BAP's statement of lies - chaos broke out in the chamber. Residents were furious. BAP man gave up and sat down in the end, realising he couldn't spin in the light of the evidence: much to the disapointment of the smug LCA man sitting next to him from the airport - that will surely incur a refund on his hourly rate! BAP - change sides, come and work for groups like us - with all this abuse of noise monitoring going on we are sure groups such as ourselves could provide you with work for the rest of your working lives. But we would, of course, expect 100% honesty in the presentation of the facts.

The chaos breaking out in the chamber was a good sign, especially when it was in response to lies being told in public chambers by the disingenuous corporate 'consultants'. Anyone who has an ounce of honesty and morals will find it uneasy to swallow the bitter pill of such public dishonesty around LCA and LB Newham.

One of the councillors sitting on the planning committee, asked Sunil Sahadevan, the planning case officer for LB Newham if any letters of support of the proposed expansion had been received by residents from the Royal Docks. Sunil stuttered for what seemed like minutes, (obviously trying to think of something that would make LCA look as if it had at least some community support) and then stated that "over 300 letters were received in support of the airport". Hmm that didn't answer the question, and the Chair (good job chair!) asked him to clarify: he stuttered again before adding that "a few were received". Hmm is that 1, 2 or 3 we wondered? We know that one of them was from Cllr Kellerway.

The councillor looked disappointed when it was revealed that all but a 'few' of these letters of support came from: the aviation industry and business. That raised more than a giggle from the chambers. The support for expansion amounted to a figure less than the 400 or so staff that the airport claims to have 'created' jobs for.

The councillor however wasn't going to spend too much time worrying about what the residents of the Royal Docks, or anywhere else wanted...UNLESS of course they were in favour of the expansion. Objectors letters amounted to well over a 1000, and 2 of those objections were petitions that totalled just under 1000 signatures between them. Newham didn't want to count them though - so each petition was counted as 1 objection each.

Another objector revealed that Newham had not consulted the Civil Aviation Authority, though Newham had also forgotten to initially consult the London City Airport Consultation Committee aswell.

You get to be an expert of understanding the LB Newham and London City Airport's own personal set of definitions, 'speak' and interpretations of the English Dictionary, the cynical and purposely misleading statements they make, which omit crucial information. But don't worry, as they skirted around the real facts, and buried them - that doesn't make them bad - the blame is clearly on residents: it's your fault for not realising or asking the 'RIGHT' questions with the 'RIGHT' words or not complaining about the breaches of the planning conditions despite never being told what the conditions were. Ever see Jeremy Paxman interview? Well that is exactly the way in which these insincere, disingenuous individuals need to be dealt with. We tried that with John Fannon, Head of Newham Planning after the meeting.

John Fannon actually seems like a nice guy, but his choice to work for Newham is puzzling if our impression about him as an individual is correct. Surely he'd heard the rumours about LB Newham and the "Whip Master" before he took post, or perhaps he felt he could make a difference. With the whip master in place this appears unlikely. When we tried the Jeremy Paxman approach as John kept skirting the issue about the noise readings it was more interesting - he had to admit "there were noise readings taken, but they were not reliable" , not reliable to use in 8 years - so no actual noise readings then! We also asked John why Newham had made no effort to enforce the section 106 conditions on LCA. John said their had been 'problems', but the more we pushed him, he resorted to the get out of jail card "I've only worked here for a 18 months". So that's all right then. We asked him why, if that was the case, why didn't he take the opportunity to clean up the act of his department and start enforcing the planning conditions at LCA and make a real impact on his arrival in the post. His telling response was to the effect that Newham had not felt that it was right to enforce noise monitoring in the past year and a half because this application would, he quoted "raise the benchmark". Oh dear, doesn't this indicate that this application had been rubber stamped rather a long time ago, despite him denying this?

But his comment is even more interesting: London City Airport are always going on (they do a lot) about this fantastic noise management programme they have in place. You know, the one where they insulate only homes built after a certain year, and who they choose to be in the estimated noise map of 57db laeq and over. When other airports insulate at a higher noise level, LCA likes to boast that they insulate at a lower threshold. But the difference is that the others do actually insulate, not just say they will, and and then leave it for 6 years for vast swathes of the communities who are the worst affected. It must be quite difficult to work out whose homes are in the REAL 57dblaeq when you haven't provided actual noise data for 8 years.

But what is important about the 'raise the benchmark' comment on noise monitoring, other than none of us know what this will mean in reality, is that we were told by an official just a week ago that the noise insulation that LCA offers is of poor quality. Apparently it is not of the same standard as that offered at other airports. So yet another show of lack of committment and care towards the community by London City Airport - all supported by the LB Newham.