Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Near misses between London City Airport planes concerns MP

It came to FTF's attention some time ago the amount of 'near misses' (The Civil Aviation Authority call these proximity reports) of aircraft leaving and arriving from London City Airport. This is something that Sir Robin Wales, FC London City Airport Chief Executive Richard Gooding and Hill & Knowlton have clearly avoided addressing when 'pushing through' their quest for more flights over the most densely occupied part of England: despite it being an issue which is of interest and importance to the general public on health and safety grounds.

Never mind the public, just think of the profits to be made!!

Thankfully, we still have freedom of information, freedom of speech, and some of the press excercise their freedom to report, unlike some of the other publications who only 'advertise' for the airport whilst denying residents the facts and the risks that are overhead. So read on for an excellent piece of factual and informative reporting from the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian. We of course commend Harry Cohen MP for speaking of his concern on such important safety issues in the interest of his constituents - it's more than Stephen Timms has done for his! Hoorah, a good example of local reporting in the interests of the community, and at it's very best! It's just a shame Newham residents, are not as blessed.

10:41am Tuesday 30th December 2008

By Daniel Binns »

THERE have been nine ‘near misses’ between planes flying to and from London City Airport in the skies above north east London over the past five years, the Guardian can reveal.
In one case, two aircraft came within half a mile of each other during one misunderstanding, while in another incident a pilot “became distracted” and soared beyond his plane’s authorised height.

Harry Cohen, MP for Leyton & Wanstead, is so concerned about the number of near misses that he plans to contact the Secretary of State for Transport Geoff Hoon.
He said: "There are so many planes flying over my constituency it is amazing that there hasn't been a crash.

"I think the Government needs to look at the expansion of airports and the affect it has on the environment."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told the Guardian there was “no risk” of a collision in any of the cases, which all happened within 50 nautical miles of the airport at heights of 3,000ft or lower.

But anti-airport expansion campaigners expressed scepticism at the claims.
Anne-Marie Griffin, of the Fight the Flights Group, said: “It’s a matter of how much you believe what a Government agency tells you. If there was a risk of a crash, they clearly won’t say anything which might cause panic. “Any increase in the number of flights will definitely increase the risk of a crash. “It doesn’t matter even if there was just one possibility of a crash in this timespan, the effect of a plane coming down over London would be phenomenal.”

The worries come as proposals are currently being considered to change the flightpath of City Airport planes, which could see an extra 83 planes flying over the skies of Wanstead, Leyton and Leytonstone at less than 3,000ft every day, according to air traffic management company NATS.

The cases, known as ‘Airprox’ incidents, are recorded when the distance between aircraft "have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised.”
A spokesman from the CAA said: “Despite large year on year increases in the number of flights operated by UK airlines, the rate of Airprox incidents has decreased significantly in the period 1998-2007.”

London City Airport was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Building 1000 Costs Public Over Two Million A Year

It couldn't get worse for the residents of Newham under the chaotic, disorganised and autocratic leadership of Newham Council. Building 1000 is a subject we've covered before. It is an office block built alongside the Royal Docks by London City Airport. It remained empty for years - obviously the airport had created such huge property and environmental blight on the building that nobody wanted to experience the delights of working in the area, let alone live in the area. Building 1000 momentarily had some use in it's years of sitting empty: it once appeared in a Post Office advert (now that's like a kiss of death) - and in 'Spooks'. It was noted that on each occasion the takes did not include aircraft landing and taking off in the background. They'd have had to do a voice over if so as the excessive noise levels of jets in the area would have stopped all recording.

But don't worry - Newham appears to have come to the rescue of Building 1000, and was happy to sacrifice an alledged 600 council jobs for the pleasure. But it gets worse: Newham appear to have seen fit to moving some of their staff into the blighted building, and you'd expect it to be good value being that nobody else wanted to move into it because of the environmental conditions surrounding it, wouldn't you? Oh no, Newham doesn't do 'economical' when it comes to trying to save face and appears to want to hide and deny that the whole of the area around the airport for a good few miles or so, is so blighted that few want to live or work there - except those connected to the airport- all couple of hundred of them. Clearly Building 1000 laying empty was an embarassment to Newham and their claims that the airport regenerates, when in fact, ummm it appears to stifle and stop regeneration in many ways.

A freedom of information request has revealed the staggering running costs for Building 1000 from 1st April 2008 to 30th November:
  • Rates £993,300
  • Insurance £85,379
  • Cleaning £2,227
  • Management Fee £1,171,053 *

    *This is the cost of the building management and facilities management contract which
    includes security costs
But of course, don't forget, the airport apparently doesn't cause property blight at all, even though other airports such as Stansted and Heathrow do on homes and businesses that are not connected to the aviation industry. It seems that London City Airport costs Newham Residents more than meets the eye, you can now add property blight to the list of 'bills'. Add this to all the security costs at the airport which London taxpayers pay in whole, and which Newham doesn't think that London City Airport should pay, and you'd be forgiven for feeling that this airport is continuously propped up by the public purse. In more ways than one. It seems that the airport not only relies on the public purse to run, it also severely stifles job growth in east London... and a healthy environment.

Monday, December 22, 2008

British Airways Can't Do The Maths

British Airways Press Release (see below)just further misleads the residents of East London and beyond, and those who care about the environment.

Now lets make the article they have released CLEARER to the press and RESIDENTS.

1.British Airways DON'T say that they are YET to receive approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the polluting jets out of London City Airport. The Jets HAVE to meet noise restrictions and we have not seen any notification from the CAA that they have approved the jets operation.

2. BA's Peter Simpson claims the new Embraer is helping them to meet 'environmental objectives'. This is utter NONSENSE when BA are INCREASING flights.

BA claim that the Embraer will improve C02 emissions by UP TO 56%. The trouble is that London City Airport has had a 50% increase in the amount of flights approved by Newham Council - despite the appalling environmental effects on East Londoners.

So lets do the maths:

Apart from the fact that the jets will contribute to excessive noise pollution for 100,000s of residents in the middle of the most densely occupied area of the Country consider:

that a 50% increase in flight expansion out of London City Airport has been approved, this will result in 120,000 flights a year in a RESIDENTIAL AREA, no doubt many of them British Airways' own.

So 50% extra flights of bigger, noisy jets versus UP TO 56% CLAIMED reduction in CO2 emissions...

Hmmm allegedly the maths indicate that this works out at about NO DIFFERENCE in C02 emissions over East London! Isn't it just another case of GREENWASH? For British Airways to make any difference (reduce) in their emissions from London City Airport, they would need to maintain the level of flights they have had in the past at the airport - not increase them, new jets or not.


British Airways has placed firm orders for a fleet of 11 new generation fuel efficient aircraft that will offer passengers unrivalled levels of space and comfort on board.

The airline's wholly owned subsidiary BA CityFlyer is to take delivery of the first of its new Embraer aircraft, which will fly exclusively from London City Airport, from September 2009. ........

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Growing Unrest in the Communities

Plane Stupid's action resulting in the closure of Stansted on Monday, agree with it or not, has once again highlighted the strength of feeling and growing movement against aviation expansion. It was interesting to see that some of the media turned it into a class war. No doubt a helping hand came from the aviation industries PR mercenaries. However they know the truth - this isn't anything to do with a class war at all. Anti expansion campaigners come from all walks of life and are spread across the age ranges. This is more than evident in East and South East London in the campaign against the expansion of London City Airport.

What we all know from history, is that every single group who challenges politicians or big business, no matter how valid their challenge is, get attacked: attempts to discredit, intimidate, smear and threaten them by those whom find them the greatest threat is all part of the aviation industries war against growing objectors. What is interesting however is that these attacks are almost none existent by those in the general public - whether they agree with expansion or not. Instead they all tend to emanate from those connected to, or those involved in the aviation industry. It is hardly an appealing characteristic. They are simply a bunch of blinkered NIMBY's.

The saddest feature of this, is that those who feel threatened by anti expansion campaign groups often result to personal tactics - they seem devoid of considering the bigger picture, or the ability to have a debate. The best comments they seem to come up with are that 'you chose to live under a flight path': they don't mention that flight paths have grown, nor that flight paths that were not used are now being used, nor that air traffic has expanded to a point of detrimental effects over 70% of the UK. Nor do they consider that residents often pre-date airports, or the expansions, or that some residents simply do not have a choice in where they live. They ignore the noise, the effects on children's development, the effect on peoples cardiovascular systems, respiratory systems and the effect on climate change. These pro aviation individuals avoid just about every issue that effects our daily lives as a result of the ever intruding feature of roaring jets.

There is indeed a stereotype to the aggressive comments that are often made by the real NIMBYs who support aviation expansion, but just by chance don't happen to live under a flight path, or have the economic mobility to make sure they never have to endure the effects of the activities they support growing. We are sure that whilst airport bosses get chauffeured in from their homes outside of the noise contour zone, and fly out on a private jet it can be guaranteed they don't think for one minute about: the children in Drew Road School, Silvertown who are struggling with concentration and reading, the residents whose asthma has grown progressively worse with the airports growth, or those parents who have lost a child under 30 due to asthma (Newham has the highest mortality rates in England in under 30s) or the contribution to greenhouse gases.

No, they are concentrating on far more important issues such as how to make more money for shareholders like Credit Suisse and General Electric and their own emperors coat.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Plane Stupid Close Stansted

FTF are not a direct action group but we are sympathetic to the frustration that Plane Stupid feel. Their actions highlight the sheer frustration that anti expansion campaigners and environmentalists have over the too cosy relationship between aviation and government.

London City Airport has been approved by Newham Council to expand flights by 50% to 120,000 flights per annum over the most densely occupied area of the country. However as Baroness Ludford MEP recently stated: it has almost gone unnoticed by the majority of the media despite strong protests and objections.

Boris Johnson, Mayor Of London and Hazel Blears, Secretary of State also ignored the lack of environmental data, the wider effects on the region such as as 50% increase in noise levels and the areas affected by excessive noise levels, and residents objections.

There is no wonder why campaigners feel forced to take direct action in a country where the government only listens to business and ignores the very residents who make communities. The actions of Plane Stupid today, as HACAN's John Stewart has stated - are a taste of things to come.

Please see press release from our colleagues: Stop Stansted Expansion:



The closure of Stansted Airport this morning by climate action group Plane Stupid has highlighted significant concerns that the Government is failing to fulfil its commitment to deliver meaningful action on climate change by supporting the expansion of Stansted and other airports across the UK.

Over 50 protesters from Plane Stupid camped out on the runway and surrounded themselves with fortified security fencing, preventing flights to and from the airport during the early part of the morning.

Responding to news of the action Carol Barbone, Campaign Director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: “No-one can condemn this action without also condemning the recklessness of the Government’s policy on airport expansion and the major contribution which the resulting emissions would make to global warming. BAA’s full frontal attack on the community with its plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow today, with a seven square kilometre landgrab for a second runway destroying historic homes and villages, must also be condemned.”

She continued: “Our own campaign has always been waged strictly within the law and we are pledged to continue to use all legal means to overturn the Stansted expansion plans. Nevertheless, today’s action by Plane Stupid must be seen in context against the backdrop of a continuous assault of the local community by BAA and by a Government that claims to want to tackle climate change but seems determined to allow expansion of the airport.”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

FTF Launch Website

FTF are proud to announce the official launch of their website with it's own domain name.

You will find useful information such as items about us, what you can do, the location and links and interesting stuff etc. We hope that vistors, new and old will find it much easier to find practical and useful information on the website with email links to Newham Council, links to help you find your local MP and MEP etc. You will also find key pieces of research over the coming months.

We hope that all anti expansion campaigners and especially those starting out will find something useful for their own campaigns whilst those residents affected by London City Airport will find it an essential resource and information point.

FTFs blog will continue just as it always has done and can be accessed directly from the website's home page. It will work in conjunction with the website continuing to publish evidence based articles which cut through the spin and lies of London City Airport and LB Newham, with the odd satirical comment for good measure. Our focus continues to be on publishing truthful and informative items whilst empowering the communities.

FTF: The 'Intelligent' website and blog

We are sure our supporters will be pleased to hear that this blog and our fantastic new FTF website have flatteringly been called 'intelligent'.

And the individual who so kindly paid the compliment? Dave Hill of the Guardian in his London Blog. So a BIG thanks to Dave for the compliment!

Now what did that PR 'employee' of London City Airport say about our blog just over a year ago....something about 'tabloid sensationalism'. Once again, London City Airport got it all wrong. If they had ever read a broadsheet, they'd have known.