Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deferral of Decision and Mayor states hard to justify more than 120,000 flights

All the fun of the circus was had at the Newham development control meeting yesterday!

We all committedly (those of us who could get the day off work) went along to Stratford Town Hall, with plenty of support from Hacan, FOE, residents, and some very welcome climate camp members on their way to Kingsnorth, and the press, to hear the London City Airport flight expansion application decision.

In what could only be described as a farce, we were all sat down in the Chamber and told:

1. The chair wasn't able to be there so the deputy chair Cllr Pat Murphy was to act in his absence.
2. Cllr Murphy then declared a conflict of interest and left the chamber.
3. The rest of the planning committee then voted for a temporary chair.
4. The temporary chair then read out a message from The Mayor of London's office to ask a decision to be deferred, or that the Mayor would have to make a request to the Secretary of State to 'call in' the application in on the grounds of a safety report that is currently being carried out for the proposed (?) Thames Gateway Bridge.
5. The decision was taken to defer, rather than face a public inquiry at this stage (!), until the report is available and the safety aspects considered.
6. Some residents expressed their annoyance to the committee for wasting their time and in having to take a day off work to attend, another requested that the committee consider holding the meeting at the more usual time, in the evening, and give more notice to residents.

In addition the Newham case officer was absent as he was on a long haul flight that just doesn't get any better.

The Mayor has supported the application to expand to 120,000 flights on the basis of what we see as flawed information. We have been advised that in a judicial review it would be seen that way too: no reliable actual noise or air pollution data for a period of years, and employment figures pulled out of a hat by LCA (remember 406 directly employed staff become 2000 staff when LCA say it has 'created' the jobs!!), and a lack of detailed information on the environmental effects on the communities across the whole of London. Some of these points were raised as weaknesses by the GLA planner in the GLA planning report but the Mayor appears to be happy to make a decision over Londoners health, safety and the environment regardless of the lack of detailed information.

However The Mayor also stated that flights above 120,000 would be hard to justify, so regardless of what happens at the next meeting - that throws a bit of a spanner in LCA's masterplan for greed not need!

The re-scheduled round maybe in a months time, and we still await a decision from GOL. The best thing were the glum faces, after the LCA PR machine had been feeding the national media that Newham were set to approve the application at yesterdays meeting. Shame they didn't have a crystal ball that time. And what happens if the report on the bridge comes back and says 'no more planes'?

Oh dear, it just never goes to plan for LCA and LB Newham!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Great Web Of Deception

There are a lot of things about this application that have been uncovered during the last 9 months or so. Most of all it is the level of deception that the community have been fed in the absence of real facts, and accurate information that has been the most concerning.

1. Residents are still being told - ''noise mitigation will be offered to all households in the noise contours to deal with the increased noise levels".

This is a really good one to get rid of objecting residents, who haven't seen or had time to read the details of the noise mitigation programme, and whose main concern are the noise levels.

There's two problems with this: firstly the noise contours are based on estimates, secondly any home built of given planning permission after 1997 is not eligible for assistance to sound insulation. You may be offered motorised ventilation simply because opening your windows will be unbearable with the level of noise from jets - but this will not reduce the noise experienced from 50% more planes at intervals of 90seconds!

2. Noise contours - residents have been led to believe that the current
noise contours are only estimated for the past year.

Estimated noise contours are a real money saver for London City Airport (think of all those properties which may be eligible for noise mitigation for the past 7 years but haven't been identified as 'eligible'!)and rather helpful when you want to get an application through to expand to a major airport, in the middle of a residential area when the noise levels really matter.

As you will know if you read this blog they have been estimated for over 6 years. Why? Because LCA and Newham don't care and appear to have had some sort of amnesia with regards to the Section 106 requirements since the document was written. But don't worry, a nice, new shiny section 106 with a 50% increase in flights will make everything much, much better, so we are told!

3. Employment Figures - the great myth

Jobs, jobs, jobs - a great tool to try and bury the outweighing negatives to any community! After all who would dare stand up and say no to more 'estimated' jobs? Even if they are just words in the quest to get approval to make loadsamoney, even if it does mean an additional 46,000 people will have to live in sealed up homes, children's development will be affected, and cardiovascular conditions continue to soar in Newham and Greenwich in the areas most affected by the noise levels? Stephen Timm's is right behind on the job issue, shame his equivalent in health isn't right behind the people on the health impacts! Still the price put on the head of a resident, appears to be far less value than that of business - check out the PSZ guidance to see this in practice! But we are sure with Newham's excellent track record in enforcement they will of course follow up and independently check the validity of such job growth claims!!

The airport never, ever quotes that it directly employs just over 400 people. Instead it likes to think it can isolate other job growth in the area and take all the credit for it themselves.

So just over 400 jobs soon become 2000 jobs 'created' but they consistently omit in identifying the distinction between the two categories. They could give lessons on how to purposely mislead the reader - and we thought it was all ''open and honest''! When members of the LCACC also start to express their unhappiness with the figures and projections of job growth, well that says everything.

Itsy, bitsy, spider....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Disingenuous Again

It is interesting to read in the Daily Telegraph today that they report that:

In seeking permission, the airport has capitalised on its role as a prime creator of local jobs - an issue that has played well with the local council. Some 2,000 people currently work at the airport, 70pc of whom live within a five-mile radius. The airport reckons the extra flights could create 1,000 new jobs.

  • Interesting because the airport confirmed to Stephen Timms MP just a few weeks ago that they directly employed just 406 staff! Now who is telling porkies??
  • Interesting because: the airport has consistently failed, and breached the section 106 in reporting the annual employment figures to the London Borough of Newham, despite it being a requirement of the last planning approval. Newham didn't even have the employment figures just a few weeks ago and those issued are felt to be flawed.
  • Interesting because in a letter to MP Stephen Timms - Richard Gooding CEO was unable to identify how many directly employed airport staff lived in Newham, nor how many of them were part time.
  • Interesting because, the spokesperson, was asked to confirm or deny the 18 alleged directly employed lca redundancies last week - and surprise, surprise the airport has ignored the request to date.
  • Interesting because the airport does not employ 2,000 people directly at all, another manipulation of words to purposely mislead the reader it seems.
  • Interesting because most of the data that LCA use in their application to expand flights is estimated, and flawed and unreliable.
  • Interesting because it appears they have even failed to carry out the noise mitigation programme to households within the time set by the council in the section 106...whoops another breach!

Funny how they also left out the little issue of them completely abusing the section 106 for all these years, that they are too incompetent to run a noise and flight track system, or keep an up to date personnel file on the staff figures to name just a few. But what is even more entertaining is the fact that GOL are currently looking at the flawed case report in consideration for a possible call in to the Secretary of State and they didn't mention that either.

They will try to deny these breaches - but its too late: LB Newham have admitted that the conditions have been breached, and that London City Airport have not provided the data legally required in the section 106 despite requests by the council. Oh dear.

It must really hurt when they come back down to earth.

Friday, July 25, 2008

GOL could halt decision being made on London City Airport

The Government Office for London could halt the decision making process of Newham's planning committee at next wednesdays meeting to consider the LCA application to expand flights.

Whilst considering the Newham officers report on the application, GOL may choose to issue an 'article 14 direction' on the application to instruct Newham not to make a decision while they decide on whether to call the application in or not. Newham would be unable to make a decision once this has been issued.

Newham State Current Outstanding Environmental Issues Can Be Addressed By Expansion

Newham Planning's Case Officer has suggested that giving LCA approval to expand is the only way to secure improvements in monitoring and mitigation of environmental and noise issues.

Strange how the airports own 'up to date, state of the art' noise monitoring and the requirements of the section 106 put in place by the LB Newham didn't manage to achieve this over the past 7 years.....what hypocrisy LB Newham is full of. They share with LCA one thing: a total disregard for the impact on residents of noise and pollution. We have never seen anywhere in which a judgement on the environment and noise effects on a community can be made in the absence of actual noise measurements or an independent environmental impact study - and why is that? LB Newham appear to be scared to carry out their own independent readings for fear of the reality and of having to refuse LCA the application perhaps? We can only speculate on that. The circus they promote is an utter disgrace to their respective sectors. This will do nothing but further galvanise objectors to see this farcical consultation and application be called in by the Secretary of State.

Following paragraph taken from page 8 of the LB Newham LCA Committee report:

Having assessed the information submitted with the application, and the additional information to complete the Environmental Statement requested by way of Regulation 19 notices, it is concluded that there are negative environmental and economic impacts as well as economic benefits to the proposal. While mitigation can be achieved certain impacts such as the noise levels in outside open spaces cannot be effectively overcome. It is considered that on balance the adverse impacts of the proposal are not such as would justify withholding consent in light of the benefits and the relevant policy considerations. This is considered to be a finely balanced recommendation which can only be made subject to securing more effective monitoring and mitigation of the airport’s impacts on the local environment than are currently achieved. It is recognised that consent allows the opportunity to secure improvements in this regard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Government Office for London and Consideration for Call in Process

As some of you will recall, FTF, and John Austin MP, and perhaps others put in a request to the Secretary of State to call in the application by London City Airport to expand flights to 120,000 per year.

The call in was requested due to the wider implications of the application - such as the lack of consultation to all those affected, noise and air pollution and the lack of evidence relating to the environmental effects.

The Government Office for London have informed us, and residents, that as soon as they have access to the Newham report on LCA's application they will consider the application and if necessary put a holding direction on it, if they need more time to consider it. They aim to come to a decision within 21 days of the meeting on 30 July.

Planning Meeting - 30th July 2pm

London City Airport application to expand flights, misery and ill health, will be considered by the

Development Control Committee
30th July2008
Council Chamber
Old Town Hall Stratford,
29 TheBroadway,
London E15.

30th July at 2pm

The case officer has recommended to grant planning permission. Now that's a surprise to us!! A 2pm meeting, how very unusual!!

Any member of the public can attend the meeting, which starts at 2:00pm.

If you wish to make representations at that Committee you should advise either:

Joy George or Shirley Fortune (Member Services, Town Hall, EastHam London E6 2RP) in writing by 12 (mid-day) the Monday prior to theCommittee meeting .

For further advice in regard to this matter you cancontact them on 0208 430 3401 or by fax (020 8430 3052).

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Simply a Rule of Thumb and, Do 406 Employees Make LCA a Major Employer in Newham?

Yet more evidence on just how much deception and collusion is going on between the aviation industry and government.

It is no surprise for those residents in East and South East London who are affected by London City Airport operations and whom are concerned at the possiblity of further flight expansion. They've been finding out lots of dirty secrets over the past 9 months.

Compare the Times article with:

1. London City Airport failed to take any
accurate noise readings of it's departing aircraft for 7 years - despite the amount of planes being allowed to operate being based on a noise factored movement.

2.This means that London
City Airport could have been allowing more noise factored movements than permitted in the Section 106 agreement.

3. Noise levels from individual craft at London City Airport could have exceeded beyond those set out in the Section 106 agreement to the detriment of the health
and well being of local residents. This means that there are no accurate noise readings or noise contour maps for the whole of the areas around the airport. No evidence is available to ensure that the airport has/is not exceeding the agreed noise limits or that homes have received the noise mitigation that they are entitled to.

4. LB Newham have failed to take any action in 7 years which ensured that London City Airport carried out regular and reliable noise data collection.

5. London City Airport, in its current application, has based it's case for flight expansion on estimated, unreliable noise and environmental data - purely because their methods of monitoring on site have failed consistently due to a lack of their committment to the requirements of the last planning application. Spot any parallels with the Heathrow Consultation debacle?

6. It appears that The Department for Transport has happily accepted 'estimated' noise data from London City Airport for 6 years as part of the EU directive requirement for all airports to provide annual data on noise contours. Did they never question why it was estimated, and not real, and the reason behind this, not even once?

7. Stephen Timms, MP for Newham supports expansion on the basis of adequate environmental measures and noise mitigation being implemented. He has failed to ensure that the environmental and noise measurements have been carried out, in his borough, for 7 years, where has he been? He has clearly not raised this as a concern with the LB of Newham, nor with the airport and continues to neglect to mention this in his articles. What confidence can residents have in him in ensuring the airport will meet future obligations, if they have failed consistently in the past, with no challenge from the authorities?

8. Job Growth - lies, lies and more lies. We all know that the job figures from London City Airport are a closely guarded secret, particularly the amount of Newham residents who are employed. Why? Because the figures are not as LCA promote, sorry, spin, them to be, and they are not flattering to them at all. It's something about 'burying bad news'.

Insiders inform us that they are not at all happy with what they feel is the ''purposeful
deception of the community into the belief that there has been or will be so many extra jobs at London City Airport'' . The LB Newham is supposed to collect annual job data from LCA - it appears that this had not occured if we are to take the word of LCA's Richard Gooding in a letter to Stephen Timms MP.

In addition Stephen Timms claims that the airport has "created 2000 jobs". What he doesn't tell you is how he calculated this figure - we believe he has added on the jobs in the local hotels and other neighbouring businesses (courtesy of the information being passed over from the LCA spin machine no doubt), even cab drivers- but how could he possibly isolate all these jobs outside of the airport as a direct result of the airport activities - and not the Excel Centre, or tourists looking for the best value hotel room in London?

LCA customer profiles indicate that the majority of their users earn on average over £86,000 per annum. It seems more likely that they perhaps would consider the Four Seasons Hotel in Docklands, or one of an equal standard in zone 1, over the lower star chains stituated by the airport, which suffer from up to 87db noise levels in the areas around them.

In fact the airport directly employs just 406 employees - as stated in a letter to Stephen Timms MP. The airport could not indicate how many of those 406 staff were part time.

Apparently, according to Stephen, the employment of 406 staff, none of whom could be identified as Newham residents by LCA at the time that the letter was written, nor of how many are part time makes LCA a 'major employer' in Newham. How's that? We think he is getting confused with THE major employer - Newham Council or perhaps Tate and Lyle?

The airport therefore does not employ 2000 people directly - and the use of the sentence 'created 2000 jobs' by Stephen Timms does nothing more than purposely continue to mislead the communities into reading that 2000 LCA jobs have been created - which they have not. Still, perhaps he is just following the precedent set by the Heathrow example.

It all smacks of collusion, maladministration and a purposeful deception of the communities for the purpose of big business getting its way, at any cost.

Residents have been let down and misled - it's time to make all these individuals accountable. Expansion cannot be based on estimates of noise and pollution, and the shocking lack of committment of the airport and the local council to ensure that conditions are met can only lead the majority to have a vote of 'no confidence' in them.

When most people do a bad job, fail to meet targets, requirements etc they usually get penalised for that - that's of course only if they haven't made lots of money for big business by failing to adminster the requirements. The making of money, and of looking after one's own career, of course supercedes all the other failures.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friends In High Places - Panorama

The fat cats are schmoozing. If you ever wondered just how cosy things can get between the airline industry and government, including local government, then Panorama's next programme on Monday 21st July, 8.30pm might just interest you.

Remember us reporting that a senior Newham Official had alledgedly stated "can't say no to big business" when talking about LCAs expansion to local residents at a question and answer session in Newham? What exactly could the individual had meant by such a statement? Clearly he wouldn't have a problem with saying to residents that their lives will be made a living hell by noise, they'll be out of pocket and their lives will probably be shorter as a result of the kind of expansion planned over in south and east London. Well it seems that autocratic attitude could be endemic......surprise, surprise!!!

In the report Panorama found that it was all rather cosy between Downing Street and the aviation industry, and that many of those that had worked for government now hold major positions in the aviation industry. We know of one who is linked to aviation land East London who fits this stereotype nicely, contact book to the ready then!

Spare a thought for residents in West London, and we hope you will show your support for them too.

How can the government lecture the country on going green while backing a third runway at Heathrow Airport which will dramatically increase air travel and raze a village to the ground?

Not without cynically twisting the science around air pollution and noise, according to critics.
The environment is one of Labour's big issues, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown himself saying that protecting it is "one of the greatest challenges of our

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's just like a cappucino - the froth has come off. But they want you to fly to Moscow, Dubai and New York to look for it.

London City Airport is indeed struggling it seems - apart from the reports from residents of the noticeable reduction of flights in and out of the airport over the past few weeks, and the alledged 18 redundancies, it seems that the 'froth has come off' for the airport. The PR spinners charge a lot of money for coming up with terms like the 'froth has come off', hardly value for money that one. Austrian is also pulling out of LCA in August.

However, the airport is banking on Willie Walsh of BAs proposed New York transatlantic service from the airport to grow into routes to Moscow and Dubai. This is no surprise to objectors to the expansion - LCA will indeed be trying to get the 747s in soon, perhaps they will get the government to remove whole areas of housing, just like the proposal of flattening Sipson for the 3rd runway at Heathrow.

The New York route with the proposed introduction of the beast of a A318 is of course yet to be approved by the London Borough of Newham. But you wouldn't think so by the statements of the airport and Willie. Strangely - residents were assured by a council official that if the aircraft were approved to operate from the airport - there would be no more than 2 departures and 2 arrivals a day.

With the spotlight growing on Newham's handling of the current application to expand and of the breaches of the section 106, which have displayed exactly the type of committment the airport and council has to the community - we can confidently say that LCA should not be as confident as they were a year ago as to getting an easy trip on any of it. After all, they'd expected to had 'pushed through' the current application and have the extra services in March 2008.

So hold on to your seats residents in South and East London...London City Airport wants to morph into a transatlantic airport - full of A318 jets - flying to New York, Moscow and Dubai. Cloud cuckoo land indeed. Yes a 'mini Heathrow' is the dream of LCA.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Alledged Redundancies At London City Airport

Fight the Flights has received an anonymous email from an ex employee of London City Airport alledging that they are 1 of 18 individuals whom has been made redundant.

We will of course be waiting for London City Airports official response to this.

If it is accurate, so much for job creation for 'locals': Job cut backs to preserve the profits on current operations, is not a good sign at all - 'cloud cuckoo land' is becoming reality.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Credit Suisse Recommends Trains Rather Than Short Haul Flights

We always love a bit of good old hypocrisy and double standards falling from the mouths of big business, and you can always guarantee it is at its best when big bucks are in the vision of the fat cats.

In this example it is Credit Suisse - a major shareholder in London City Airport. They recommend in their own 'emagazine' that trains should be used in preference to short haul flights. We don't need to remind you that the vast majority of routes out of LCA are mostly accessible by train, and hooray...we see Credit Suisse encouraging the use of audio and video conferencing! Now they are 'forgotten concepts' for the 'fat cat plane and profit pushers'!

We suspect that Credit Suisse may suddenly have a change of heart about promoting train use and reducing CO2 emissions when applying it to their business interests at London City Airport.

Here's part of the article of their committment to encouraging the use of trains...over planes:

Air Travel: Second Largest Emission SourceBusiness air travel causes a fifth of the bank’s CO2 emissions. To neutralize these emissions, all plane tickets for flights originating in Switzerland and booked through the bank’s travel services are currently issued as carbon neutral tickets. Train travel is also recommended as an alternative to short-haul flights, and the use of audio and video-conferencing encouraged. In 2006, the use of videoconferencing for instance rose by 30 percent worldwide compared with a year earlier. Paper, waste and water use, combined contribute to an additional 3 percent of the bank’s CO2 emissions.

If you would like to ask Credit Suisse about their double standards and how they are quite happy to ask for 100,000 extra jets over the heads of the most densely populated residential areas in the country why not write to them? Here's their address:

Credit Suisse
One Cabot Square
E14 4QJ

Phone +44 20 7888 8888
Fax +44 20 7888 1600

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Aircraft Noise and High Blood Pressure

In a report issued in January 2008 on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency, Berlin Germany it was found that:

'sufficient evidence for a positive relationship between aircraft noise and high blood pressure and the use of cardiovascular medication".

Wolfgang Babisch & Irene Van Kampf
Cardiovascular Effects of Aircraft Noise
2nd draft (December 2007) Issued January 2008

So if you have high blood pressure and live in the noise contour why not mention this to your GP or consultant? Perhaps in the future we'll be seeing some 'no win, no fee' activity taken out against London City Airport too. But then again, with the company they keep they will be denying it until the evidence is a mile high and hits them in the face.

Corporate responsibility Credit Suisse? Oh silly us! Of course it's residents own fault for living in the area, or that's the inference from the socially responsible London City Airport 'employee'! Considering the Government has a drive on housing people in the Thames Gateway, you'd think LCA would get a grip. Perhaps they ought to take that attitude along to the Government, and the Thames Gateway Unit? Yes, why not kick the residents in one of the most socially deprived boroughs in London, let alone the country, just a little more?

Yes your local airport certainly displays that it is a caring and sharing airport
.....of all things negative with a hefty dollop of disrespect to the local residents. Corporate dis-respect.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Roll Up, Roll Up: Airport Takes A Minimum 15% Off Home Values

In an article by Find a as far back as 2003 it was stated that:

And London City Airport likes to make out it doesn't have any impact on housing prices in the area....we suspect that the 15% has become rather larger since then, and clearly any flight expansion using more and more jet planes only adds to the negative effect on the value of property. In addition being forced into a noise contour, or a Public Safety Zone due to LCAs relentless greed to expand, is hardly an attractive benefit to add value to your home. So just how much is lost when an airport expands or changes beyond recognition of it's original planning approval whilst you have lived in the same area during that time?

In the days when LCA was just for small private planes - the original purpose of the airport being opened, it would have been a lot different. But it's managed to betray the local community, along with Newham Council and push for expansion over the years leaving the community blighted by noise and air polllution. In fact, just 2 years ago the area was a lot different, and it certainly was not dominated by the majority of flights being jets, thundering overhead forcing residents to close windows and turn up the tv - even though you still cannot hear it until the so called 'whisper jet' passes by.

Of course there's a lot of money at stake to developers, planners and business if articles such as that above are publicised too much. So don't expect the property pushers to start saying anything but the opposite!

Property Prices Crash Under the Flight Path

Property Prices on one recently built development under the flight path in Greenwich have crashed whilst those less than a few minutes walk away, but not under the flight path, nor in the noise contour, are flourishing. So it seems that the current general credit crunch effects cannot be applied.

A campaigner recently had their home valued and was told that their property value had decreased by £57,000 in 3 years. And this is just the tip of the iceberg other residents in the same development have lost over £100,000.

It's a tale of two developments - with exactly the same problems - but the only difference being that one is beneath the flight path.

London City Airport recently asked their friends to prove that airport expansion doesn't effect property prices. Interestingly their friends were not brave enough to use the area around London City Airport as an example. Instead they used Farnborough and Heathrow. Once again, it was a clear case of skirting around the real issue, something that LCA is so good at.

Something which is more valuable, and not tinged by the aviation industry is a study by Stop Stanstead Expansion group who were lucky enough to have a specialist to look at the effects of expansion on property values around Stanstead Airport. They estimated, after having looked at property data from over a period of years that: there had been a loss of £800 million on the value of local properties around the Stanstead areas.

What is more, Newham was also plummetting behind on the property front some time ago according to the Newham Recorder, well behind property trends elsewhere.

So how are the Government, house builders and land owners in the areas affected going to convince eager home owners to buy in the Thames Gateway which is overflown by LCA flights at low level? They say there is shortage of homes, but the Thames Gateway already has an image problem without Public Safety Zones and excrutiating noise levels of up to the mid - late 80dbs.

Developments such as Silvertown Quays, Tamesis Point and many others are going to have their work cut out. We'd like to see the developers be more vocal about the effects of expansion on the properties they are building- as the cat is definately out of the bag based on all the current evidence whether they like it or not. Why else wouldn't property agents be telling prospective buyers about the airport expansion plans and the associated noise, whilst others only like to show buyers around at the no flight time - Saturday afternoons.

All in all it's just another way in which residents are paying for the operation of London City Airport and the airlines, along with the £7million pound annual security that London taxpayers pay (which Richard Gooding has no intention of paying - see Wanstead and Woodford Guardian Q & A session with Richard Gooding) , the tax breaks, the pollution and effects on residents health. All picked up, the taxpayer and local resident.