Thursday, May 15, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: London City Airport Could Be Operating Illegally

London City Airport (LCA) could be operating illegally whilst Newham Council appear to take no action, but do consider LCA’s planning application to expand flights by 50% to 120,000 per year.

LCA have failed to submit actual noise readings of aircraft operations since the year 2000, instead using historical figures and manufacturers details in their application for more flights.

Fight the Flights [1], the group that is opposing the expansion of flights from London City Airport have seen documents which indicate that London City Airport could have been operating illegally since the year 2000.

The documents [2] indicate a clear breach of the Section 106 Agreement by London City Airport. The Agreement requires the airport to provide annual ‘actual’ noise measurements for the purpose of aircraft categorisation [3] and noise factored movements. Noise contours are also based on this data.

The last set of actual noise readings taken at the airport which were considered to be reliable and valid were for the year 1999-2000 [4].

London City Airport has submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Newham due to be considered on the 4th June 2008 [5] to increase flights by 50% based on estimates of noise levels from the historical and manufacturers information of the aircraft and which are therefore unreliable. Whilst the use of larger, noisier jets has increased considerably over the past few years, current and future noise increases may be even higher than estimated.

It may be the case that the current noise factored movements are already exceeding the levels laid down in the Section 106 Agreement. This may mean that more flights may currently be operating out of the airport than are allowed.

It appears that in 7 years London City Airport has not taken its responsibility in respect of noise monitoring at all seriously.

The London Borough of Newham appear to have taken no action against the airport to enforce the Section 106 Agreement, in regard to noise measurement, to the detriment of the communities that live in the areas surrounding the airport.

Even on the estimates provided by the London City Airport, there will be an increase in noise contours of 50% with residences in the 57db contour increasing from 3,300 to 11,300 with proposed developments and residences in the 63dB contour are set to increase from 80 to 3100 with proposed developments, if expansion goes ahead. The airport claims, on the current noise estimates that “no dwellings become exposed to noise levels of 69db or more under the proposals” (see page 8 of the airport’s April 08 revised non-technical summary).

Bickerdike Allen Partners presented an eight year review of LCY departure noise levels in Appendix 1 of the 2005-2006 categorisation report. This was based on manufacturers information and the noise readings from 1999-2000. Aircraft operating out of LCA should not be louder than 94.5PNdb (as determined in the Section 106 Agreement) and yet the document indicates at least one breach of this rule.

London City Airport has employed the controversial Hill & Knowlton PR company to ‘push’ the expansion plans through. Since then a “member of the family at London City Airport” whose “job is to promote that success through the power of PR” since set up a blog [6] which promotes the airport and has attacked several people who have objected to their expansion plans, accusing one MP of ‘propaganda’.

Notes to Editors:

[1] Fight The Flights is a coalition group of residents from across the boroughs who are objecting to the proposed 50% expansion of flights by London City airport. Residents formed the coalition in response to the lack of consultation, and lack of accurate information available on the effects on the community and environment. We work with Friends of The Earth, HACAN Clearskies, the group which is opposing the expansion of Heathrow, and other campaign groups fighting airport expansion.
Fight the Flights:

[2] In a report by Bickerdike Allen Partners for London City Airport, Annual Categorisation Report 2005-2006 dated 10 July 2007 the following points are clearly made:

"In accordance with London City Airport's original planning permission, aircraft operating at London City Airport are required to be categorised by their departure noise levels, which should fall into one of five noise categories”.
“For the first year of operation with the extended runway (30 March 1992 to 29 March 1993) the aircraft were provisionally categorised on the basis of manufacturer's data.
In all following years however, for approved aircraft operating at London City Airport, the categorisation was to be made with respect to measured data from London City Airport's noise monitoring system.

The latest planning permission, and the related Section 106 Agreement, continues this method of categorisation".

The report goes on to say:

“the current categorisation year (April 2005-March 2006) as for previous years since 2000, LCY have been unable to maintain a gateway pair of NMT’s in regular and continuous use. ....specifically.....NMT 1, 2 and 3.

These difficulties have arisen as a result of construction activities adjacent to the monitor sites and impending development proposals, as well as maintenance issues. This has prevented the acquisition of gateway pair data for the majority of this time."

"It has therefore not been possible to acquire sufficient quantities of reliable noise data to generate annual noise categorisation data during the period 2005 to 20006. During this year, and since 2000, categorisation has been sought predominantly on the basis of historical data as shown in Appendix 1……"

[3]The Section 106 Agreement set as part of the planning approval on London City Airport on it’s last application to expand. The agreement requires the airport to take actual noise readings of departing aircraft on an annual basis so that ‘noise factored movements’ and the categorisation of aircraft can be calculated. The categorisation of aircraft:

Aircraft types using the Airport shall be placed in categories and allocated noise factors as set out below”,
Category Noise Reference Level PNdb Noise Factor
A 91.6-94.5 1.26
B 88.6-91.5 0.63
C 85.6-88.5 0.31
D 82.6-85.5 0.16
E Less than 82.6 0.08

The categorisation of aircraft directly affects how many flights are allowed in any one day, week, year. The Section 106 Agreement states “….the number of factored movements shall be calculated by multiplying the number of take offs and landings of each aircraft type by the relevant noise factor for an aircraft type….”

[4] Bickerdike Allen Partners categorisation report for 2005 2006 noise monitoring states: “The mean departure noise level for individual aircraft types has therefore been……specifically from data obtained during the 30 March 1999 to March 2000 categorisation year, the last year during which the original noise monitoring system was in operation”

[5] London City Airport submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Newham in August 2007 to expand flights by 50% to 120,000 per year. Documents may be found at:
Reference: 07/01510/VAR London Borough of Newham Planning Applications:

[6]London City Airport ‘member of family’ blog:

London City Airport Consultative Committee:
Hill and Knowlton PR:
Newham Council: