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!!