Friday, February 22, 2008

John Austin MP - Calls for Public Enquiry

Press release from MP John Austin:


Erith & Thamesmead MP, John Austin, has renewed his call for a Public Inquiry into the plans for increased flights from London City Airport. In November of last year he complained to Newham Council that his constituents in Bexley and Greenwich had not been consulted on the proposals despite many of them living under the flight path.

John Austin has now written to both Bexley and Greenwich councils to express his concerns regarding the application from London City Airport to vary its permitted flights from 79,616 to 120,000 per annum. He told the councils that he was particularly concerned that his constituents in Belvedere, Erith and Thamesmead may not be aware of the proposals because of Newham’s failure to consult them.

In his letter John Austin says: “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 an additional 40, 384 flights per annum over 260 week days, 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 of their amenities. It is therefore extremely disappointing to hear that if planning permission were to be granted that 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 Austin added: “I recognise that City Airport is a key player in the regeneration of Docklands and south-east London, and it will become more easily accessible once the Docklands Light Railway comes to Woolwich, but these economic benefits need to be weighed very carefully against any environmental dis-benefits. I would certainly be opposed to night flights and any increase in week-end use by the airport. I believe that there is an environmental case for maximising the use of existing airports before considering the expansion of or building new runways at others. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has submitted a formal objection and Bexley are due to do likewise. In these circumstances, if the London Borough of Newham is minded to approve the application, I would consider that the best way to weigh up these issues would be by way of a Public Inquiry where all these issues could be examined. I have, therefore, written to the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, asking her to call in the application for a Public Inquiry.”

John Austin has received a response from Parmjit Dhanda MP, the junior Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, confirming that they had already received a request for the application to be called in. Mr Dhanda told Mr Austin they would be obtaining a copy of the committee report and Newham Council’s intended decision in advance of its meeting scheduled for 12 March, when they would be in a position to consider the call-in request.