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...