Wednesday, December 16, 2009

London City Airport - Hansard Adjournment Debate Houses of Parliament

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. -(Mark Tami.)
11.41 pm

James Brokenshire (Hornchurch) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity, even at this late hour tonight, to highlight my concerns and those of my constituents about the impact of flight noise, and the increase in the number of flights, from London City airport. It is also a pleasure to debate again with the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Gillingham (Paul Clark), on a transport-related matter and I look forward to hearing his response in due course.
In the past 10 years, the number of air transport movements at London City airport has doubled, from just under 21,000 aircraft departures in 1999 to some 42,000 departures in 2008. We are about to see a further significant shift in the use of the airport. The London borough of Newham has now granted the airport permission to increase the number of flight movements by 50 per cent. The flights permission would increase from 80,000 to 120,000 movements a year. London City airport forecasts that it will handle up to 3.9 million passengers by 2010, and there are long-term plans to accommodate up to 8 million passengers by 2030. That potentially significant change in the scale and nature of the operations at the airport has gone largely unnoticed by many people.

This is not simply about the number of landings and departures; it is also about the flight paths that the aircraft will take. Last year, NATS consulted on wide-ranging proposals for the busy airspace above the south-east of England known as terminal control north. The plans covered all London airports, with modifications to landing and departure routings and holding points. In the case of London City airport, one of the proposed changes was to alter the northerly departure routing. Instead of aircraft taking a sharp northerly turn almost immediately after take-off and, thus, over Woodford and Chingford, they were instead intended to take a flight path to the north-east over my constituency in Hornchurch.

In September 2008, I received a letter from the head of external communications at NATS stating that there would be a longer time period for consideration of the consultation, as further options were being considered, including in respect of London City departures over north London. It stated that "work is ongoing and further design options and suggestions are being evaluated",
adding that"we have not set a timetable for the next steps on the TCN proposal."

In response to a further inquiry from me about the nature of the revised options being considered for London City, I received a letter on 2 December 2008 stating that a number of options for the wider terminal control north area were being considered and that "there may well be a requirement for further consultation on any proposals that are brought forward, should they be significantly different to those on which we have already consulted."

It was therefore with some shock and surprise that I discovered several months after the event that on 8 January this year NATS submitted a formal airspace change [Column 940 Next section]proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to alter the London City airport standard instrument departure routes, including the change to route more aircraft over my constituency. Ian Hall, the director of operations for NATS, was quoted in the accompanying press release as saying:

"These changes to the turn were proposed in the TCN consultation and are necessary to formalise the departure procedures for all aircraft using London City and will be an added safety benefit. It is a change we can achieve quickly and the CAA is keen that we do so."

I was subsequently informed in a letter from NATS that the CAA required it to expedite an airspace change proposal and that is self-evident when one reads the CAA decision letter of 20 February 2009. The letter stated that the changes were deemed by the CAA to be necessary to accommodate an increase in category C aircraft using the airport rather than following the STOLport configuration-or short take-off and landing airport configuration-that had originally been envisaged. In his decision letter, the then director of airspace policy at the CAA, John Arscott, stated that:

"As part of the TC North development briefings, my head of Controlled Airspace advised NATS that a re-design of conventional LCY SIDs"-that is, London City standards instrument departures-"to meet CAT C design criteria was required at the earliest opportunity and it was subsequently agreed that these re-designed SIDs should be incorporated within the TC North development project."

He went on to say:
"Following on from the TC North consultation, with the ongoing NATS evaluation of the TC North consultation feedback and a potential lengthy delay to eventual implementation, I decided that the LCY SID changes to bring conventional procedures up to CAT C design criteria could not be delayed any further; therefore, NATS was requested to submit a change proposal to bring the SID designs up to CAA and ICAO CAT C design requirements at the earliest opportunity."

It is interesting to note that that was virtually the last decision Mr. Arscott took as his term of office came to an end a week later on 1 March 2009.

So, in essence the terminal control north consultation as far as London City was concerned was potentially meaningless-one could say that it was a sham. The CAA had predetermined that change was necessary. I find that unacceptable and believe that I-along with my constituents-was given a completely false impression when the TCN consultation was initiated. The changes were brought into effect in May and are already starting to have an impact.

Both easterly and westerly departures from London City airport to the north that previously took a sharp turn following take-off are now being directed over my constituency following a similar track to the initial route adopted for north-easterly and southerly departures from the airport. Based on the 2009 usage rates published in the original TCN consultation, that will in future result in a near 50 per cent. increase in the number of departing aircraft overhead in my constituency from London City airport.

Although the CAA might have requirements to bring London City operations into compliance with CAA and International Civil Aviation Organisation design criteria for category C departures, that does not mean that my constituents should be forced to bear the brunt of the noise and environmental impact. Aircraft will be [15 Dec 2009 : Column 941]passing overhead at between 2,000 and 3,000 feet with a typical noise level of 57 to 72 dB and potentially up to 77 dB for BAE 146 or RJ aircraft. The CAA decision letter accepts that residents will experience additional aircraft noise. Having read that letter, I am left with the impression that the TCN proposals, so far as they affected London City, were a done deal, and that the consultation undertaken was effectively meaningless.

This comes on top of the Newham council decision to approve an increase in the number of flight movements at London City by 50 per cent.-from 80,000 movements to 120,000. The combined impact of the changes to the London City departure routings and the proposed increase in flights would, in essence, lead to a doubling of the number of departing aircraft over my Hornchurch constituency. That will have a noticeable and significant impact on environmental amenity for my constituents. The double-whammy effect was never communicated or consulted on; again, I find that utterly unacceptable.

It is not just me, however. Significant questions are now being raised by neighbouring boroughs about the nature of the consultation conducted by the London borough of Newham in relation to approving the increase in flight movements. The London borough of Redbridge passed an uncontested resolution in November condemning the failure to consult it on the expansion of London City airport, and opposing further expansion at the airport or changes to the flight paths or modes of operation at the airport that would result in an increase in aircraft noise suffered by local residents. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Scott) was in the Chamber, he would want to refer to that resolution because he has taken a close interest in the issue. However, it is not just Redbridge. I understand that motions in similar terms have also been approved by the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

London City airport is consulting on its draft strategic noise action plan. The draft plan will have to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport early next year for consideration before formal adoption under the European environmental noise directive. I urge the Secretary of State not to accept the plan unless the significant complaints and concerns that I have raised in the debate have been properly addressed, particularly the significant impact that residents in east and north-east London will suffer due to departing aircraft from London City as a consequence of the flight routing changes. There should be a consideration of changes to routings, when appropriate, and discussions with both the CAA and NATS, when necessary, so that my constituents are not forced to bear the brunt of what I consider to be a fundamentally flawed notification and consultation procedure on two fronts.

Will the Minister make urgent representations to both the CAA and NATS about the nature of their general approach to consultation? The case raises serious and significant issues, and if their approach is simply to go through the motions by carrying out consultation on a done deal, that is utterly acceptable.

I also urge the Minister to instruct NATS and the CAA to go back to the drawing board, reassess the departure routings from London City, and come back with revised proposals as part of the next round of consultation under the TCN proposals. It is worth making the point that London City was specifically stripped out of the TCN. All the other proposals are [15 Dec 2009 : Column 942] still subject to further consideration and public consultation. Regardless of what the CAA might say, it is odd that London City was stripped out in such a way when everyone was under the impression that the TCN proposals were still being considered and would be the subject of further consultation.
Given the circumstances of such a significant change and its combined effect with the general increase in flight movements, and the impact that that will have on areas such as Hornchurch, I believe that the regulators have a duty to look again at the damaging proposals that are being fast-tracked through. While there might be arguments for increasing London City's capacity, they need to be balanced against the impact of additional disruption due to noise. I object that my constituents will bear the brunt of the environmental downside without any clear upside, that they are told that they have a voice in a consultation when they are given only a partial picture of the true scale of changes and that, in any event, their views would apparently simply be regarded as irrelevant.

In Hornchurch, we are lucky to have the benefit of significant environmental amenities. We have a significant amount of green space, with a number of large parks and sites of significant scientific interest. Their enjoyment will be adversely affected by these changes.

I would therefore urge the Minister to use his influence to ensure that those agencies with responsibility for the planning of our flight paths look again at the design of the northerly routings from London City airport. They should look again at the serious environmental impact of their decisions, and be held properly accountable for their actions to my constituents and the residents of other affected areas.

11.55 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): At the outset, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire) on securing this debate. I am delighted to face him again and to have a further discussion on transport issues.

Our commitment to sustaining economic growth and protecting the environment is at the very heart of the Department's aviation policy-making process. With specific regard to smaller airports such as London City airport, the Government's 2003 White Paper "The Future of Air Transport" noted that regional and local planning authorities"should take account of the benefits that development at the smaller airports could provide, and consider policies which facilitate the delivery of growth"
and opportunities at these airports.

However, I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will agree that hard decisions have to be taken to strike a balance between tackling the environmental challenges, enabling people to fly and allowing the industry to compete internationally. Tensions will always arise in such matters, of course, but it is about getting the balance right.

The hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues regarding recent changes at London City airport and I am keen to deal with them. I shall begin with Newham council's decision to grant planning permission for London City airport to increase by some 50 per cent. the total number of air traffic transport movements from 80,000 to 120,000 per year, and the impact that that might have on local residents. [15 Dec 2009 : Column 943]

The decision to grant that planning consent was entirely a matter for the London borough of Newham. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, who knows the position of his own Front-Bench team when it comes to the decision-making process at a local level, will agree with that. Expansion of the airport is consistent with the Government's view that there is considerable potential for airports like London City to grow, and the airport is well placed to serve a niche business market.

James Brokenshire: It is important for the Minister to understand the Newham council decision, as one concern was whether it consulted properly with all the surrounding councils and all the residents who might be affected by the application. Will he consider that in the context of guidance given to planning authorities with regard to sensitive and significant applications such as this one? People who would have been affected found out about it only very late in the day, with the result that their ability to comment and provide objections was very limited.

Paul Clark: I was just about to come to that issue. A judicial review launched by the campaign group "Fight the Flights" is currently looking into whether there was consultation with the neighbouring boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest, and their residents. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that it would be wrong for me to comment further, other than to say that the guidance as to the routes that should be taken is clear. Obviously, however, the judicial review will make its own decisions, and we wait to see what happens.

The hon. Gentleman raised the issue of standard instrument departure-SID-routes from the airport, which were introduced in May this year. These changes were brought about in order to bring London City airport's departure profiles up to the international design standards required for the mix of aircraft types that currently operate to and from the airport. Our airport operations have very high safety records, which is due in part to the hard work of all those responsible for maintaining that safety record and following the right profiles.

When the airport was first opened, the departure routings were designed to accommodate short take-off and landing operations. At that time the aircraft being flown from the airport were predominantly turboprops, which operated within certain departure speed categories, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman recognises. Over time the aircraft operating from the airport have changed to more modern jets that require faster departure speeds. Accordingly, the Civil Aviation Authority instructed NATS, the air navigation service provider, to consider changes to the London City SIDs to reflect the International Civil Aviation Organisation's departure design standards for the aircraft types that are operating from the airport.

In practice, the revised SIDs have merely formalised the departure tracks that were already being flown by about 60 per cent. of the airport's traffic. These changes were undertaken independently of the planning decision of Newham council and implemented in accordance with the independent airspace change process. The approval of the Secretary of State was not required in order to implement the changes. Guidance on the airspace change process is readily available on the CAA's website, which I looked at earlier today.

[15 Dec 2009 : Column 944]
It might be helpful if I explain briefly the procedure for making changes to airspace in the UK. Airspace planning and regulation is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the CAA. The process for making changes to airspace is governed by the CAA's airspace change process. A change sponsor, in this case NATS, is responsible for developing and consulting on a proposal for an airspace change, ensuring that it satisfies and/or enhances safety standards, improves capacity and mitigates, as far as is practical, any environmental impacts in line with the Department's environmental guidance to the CAA.

Informed by the consultation, the airspace change sponsor must submit its proposal to the CAA. It is the CAA that then assesses the formal proposal against the regulatory requirements, including environmental objectives, which are clearly a concern to the hon. Gentleman and his constituents, and either approves or rejects the proposal. If the CAA considers that a proposal could have a detrimental effect on the environment, it is required to advise the Secretary of State for Transport. It must refrain from making the airspace change without first securing his approval.
Therefore, airspace changes are made only where it is clear, after consultation, that an overall environmental benefit will accrue or where the airspace management considerations and the overriding need for safety allow no practical alternative.

James Brokenshire: I appreciate the Minister's generosity in giving way. As I understand it, he has said that the CAA makes the decision whether there is an environmental aspect that should be referred to the Secretary of State. The CAA appears to be the judge and the decision-maker on that. Is there any route whereby the Secretary of State could call in for consideration a proposed change in routing? It seems strange that the CAA can, in effect, require NATS to implement a change and decide on the environmental aspects itself.

Paul Clark: As I have indicated, the Secretary of State vests that power in the independent regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, but it has to make those considerations in conjunction with the guidance-particularly on the environmental side-that is laid out in conjunction with the Government's policy.

I shall now turn specifically to the environmental impact of the recent changes to London City airport. I recognise that the levels of aircraft noise and air quality, and the visual impact on the hon. Gentleman's constituents, will of course be of concern. I understand that point, and that is why I said right at the beginning of my remarks that getting the balance right is a judgment that has to be made.

The CAA's guidance on the airspace change process includes substantive guidance on a range of environmental requirements, including noise, air quality, tranquillity and visual intrusion. With regard to noise issues at London City airport, the hon. Gentleman will recall from my answer to his recent parliamentary question that responsibility for monitoring noise levels of aircraft at the airport falls to the airport operator. There are no statutory governmental noise controls like those that apply to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. However, under the terms of local monitoring agreements with the London borough of Newham, London City is required to produce annual noise contours.

15 Dec 2009 : Column 945
Given that the airport is in the city centre and in close proximity to residential areas, it imposes stringent noise control measures that are designed to mitigate its local environmental impact. Those measures incorporate strict restrictions on opening hours, including a ban on night flights. In addition, the airport produces annual contours, whereby the noise levels at the airport are monitored by a noise and track-keeping system. Further, London City airport's noise insulation scheme has the lowest trigger of any airport in the UK. In developing an insulation scheme to reflect the local circumstance, the airport, I am encouraged to note, is able to set criteria so that properties within the 57 dBA contour can be considered for insulation. The hon. Gentleman will know that that goes beyond the recommended level of 66 dBA in the air transport White Paper.

In terms of noise, there are future initiatives and two key developments. The first relates to the proposed expansion of the airport. The planning conditions imposed as part of Newham borough council's planning consent requires the airport to develop an improved noise monitoring and mitigation strategy. That is expected to include the replacement of the existing noise and track-keeping system and improvements to the noise insulation schemes.

The second initiative relates to the requirement for the airport to prepare a strategic noise action plan under the European environmental noise directive. Under the terms of that directive, the airport is required to develop a draft action plan in consultation with the local community. The airport is conducting a public consultation on its draft noise action plan, and, as the hon. Gentleman rightly points out on his website, the closing date is 15 January. He encourages everyone to participate in it, and that is absolutely commendable.

The consultation process is a valuable opportunity for the airport to work closely with its neighbouring communities in developing control measures that will apply over the next five years. The neighbouring communities are clearly important. Once the airport has completed its consultation and considered the responses, [15 Dec 2009 : Column 946] it will be required to submit the final draft plan to the Government so that it can be considered for formal adoption under the directive.

The airport is very aware of its local impact and seeks to ensure that local people see the benefit of living near an airport. The growth of the airport has encouraged businesses, investors and developers to locate in east London, bringing new services and facilities to the area.

Let me turn finally to TC North. TC North is one of the most complex pieces of airspace in the world, with routes in and out of the major airports of Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and London City. I must stress that the TC North proposals are not associated with, and do not assume, future development at Heathrow, Stansted or any other airport. As the hon. Gentleman said, the London City airport SID proposals originally formed part of the TC North consultation on a package of measures designed to reduce delay, maintain safety and improve environmental performance. That consultation on TC North was the largest of its kind undertaken; the population in the region affected is just under 13 million.

NATS directly consulted over 3,000 primary stakeholders, including MPs, county, borough, district and parish councils, environmental organisations and chambers of commerce. Before the launch of the consultation, NATS arranged briefings for local MPs and national and regional media. In response to concerns that there was not enough time to consider the details of the proposals, NATS extended the consultation period by four weeks, giving a full 17-week consultation period. Following that, NATS decided to review the TC North design options further. However, any revised designs for the TC North region are unlikely to be ready for consultation before autumn next year.
The CAA considered that further consultation on the London City airport SID proposals was not needed-

12.11 pm
House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Press Release - City Airport Expansion Oppostion Lines Up for Today's Parliamentary Adjournment Debate




Redbridge and Waltham Forest were joined on Wednesday 9th December by neighbouring Tower Hamlets, becoming the latest London Borough Council to come out against the expansion of City Airport by unanimously agreeing a forthright resolution.

The decision comes just days after local MP's James Brokenshire (Hornchurch) and Lee Scott (Ilford North) both re-affirmed their opposition.

Mr. Brokenshire successfully obtained today's adjournment debate and tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions concerning the scandulously undemocratic decision of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), recently discovered to have re-directed LCA flight-paths over parts of Havering and Redbridge from 7th May 2009. An edict which will not be reviewed for a year.

Reacting to that news, FTF SW-Essex Coordinator and local resident, Steve Pullum said:
"The flights now come right over my house and i've never even been given the opportunity to influence the decision or comment. CAA have forced through the changes by dictat and local residents are suffering the noise and environmental consequencies". "I would urge local people and Havering Council to follow Redbridge's lead and respond to the Airport's Noise Review and also challenge the CAA". Mr Pullum continued: “They've ignored both the views of local people and the science of climate change. The fact is that we need to stop airport expansion if we’re to have any hope of reducing CO2 emissions in this country ”.

Late last year Newham Council gave City Airport permission to increase the number of flights using the airport by 50%. That decision, however, is being challenged in the courts by Judicial Review by local coalition campaign group, Fight the Flights.


07708 794665 (SW-Essex FTF)
OR 07964 300558 (FTF Press)

Notes for Editors:

1. The Newham Council approved, original planning application by London City Airport was to increase the number of flights from 76,000 flights to 120,000 p.a. is the subject of the Judicial Review.

2. The decision was made despite the fact that the initial application did not contain accurate data on noise going back nearly a decade, in breach of planning agreements.

3. LCA has now drafted its noise action plan in response to a directive published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). That directive requires airport operators to prepare draft noise action plans designed to manage noise issues arising from aircraft departing from and arriving at airports. 4. Upon conclusion of the public consultation, LCA will collate and consider all responses to the noise action plan. 5. Consultation responses can be submitted electronically by emailing for information, or, by accessing Alternatively postal responses go to: Kellie Heath, London City Airport, City Aviation HouseRoyal Docks, London E16 2PB.

6. The consultation deadline is 15th January 2010.

7.Fight The Flights

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Week: London City Airport To Be Discussed In Houses of Parliament

FTF campaigners and residents have been doing some amazing work in east London, talking to their local politicians about the effects of the expansion of London City Airport and the legal challenge that has been launched against Newham Council against their approval of expansion.

One of those politicians is the well respected James Brokenshire MP and he has not only already submitted questions to Paul Clarke, but has secured an adjournment debate on the subject of London City Airport expansion. Mr Brokenshire commented:

“I’m angry that residents living in this area are bearing the brunt of two bad decisions. Increasingly, people will notice the noise nuisance from airliners climbing out of London City as the number of flights increase in line with the new permissions. It’s a double whammy effect for Havering residents and it’s totally unacceptable".

“Most people will be totally unaware of the decisions that have been taken against their wishes. I believe that the inability of the public to object to these plans simply isn’t right. That’s why I am seeking to bring these concerns to the notice of the Department for Transport through a formal Parliamentary debate and press them to reverse these damaging changes.”

It is expected that the London City Airport adjournment debate will be discussed in the latter part of the afternoon. If you wish to attend the adjournment debate you can do so by simply going to the Houses of Parliament and queuing for entry to the public galleries. You may wish to check before setting off by clicking here.

Houses of Parliament
Tuesday 15 December 2009


Oral Questions
Treasury, including Topical Questions

Flood and Water Management Bill – Second reading

to approve a Statutory Instrument relating to Welsh language

Aircraft movements at London City Airport - James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire MP - Houses of Parliament Written Answers on London City Airport

Written Answers, Daily Hansard, Houses of Parliament.

James Brokenshire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the likely change in the number of (a) aircraft movements and (b) passengers at London City Airport in the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [303849]

7 Dec 2009 : Column 36W
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport's latest published forecasts of aircraft movements and terminal passenger numbers at airports in the UK are presented in "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts", January 2009. This is available at:

The Department's latest forecasts of air transport movements are given in table G8, page 141 of "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts". The central estimate for the number of air transport movements at London City airport in 2015 is 92,000 an increase of 28,000, or 44 per cent., over the 2010 estimate.

The Department's latest forecasts for airport terminal passengers are given in table G3, page 135 of "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts". The central estimate from the Department's forecasts for the number of passengers using London City airport in 2015 is 3.7 million passengers per annum (mppa), an increase of 1.4 million passengers, or 68 per cent., over the 2010 estimate.

The above estimates only include scheduled passenger services. The Department has not modelled unscheduled business jet charters and air taxis at London City airport. The model currently underestimates scheduled air traffic movements at London City airport. Table 2.4, page 34 of "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts" provides a comparison of modelled and actual air transport movements. For larger airports, such as Heathrow and Gatwick, modelled and actual figures are within a couple of per cent. of each other. Moreover, the forecasts in "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts" fulfil their intended purpose-to inform and monitor long term strategic aviation policy. We currently expect to publish updated aviation forecasts in 2010.

James Brokenshire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent representations he has received on aircraft noise at London City Airport. [303850]
Paul Clark: No formal representations have been received on aircraft noise at London City airport. However early next year, the airport will be required to submit a draft strategic noise action plan to the Secretary of State for consideration for formal adoption under the European Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC). If the requirements are met, the Secretary of State for Transport will recommend to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the action plan should be adopted. The airport is currently conducting a public consultation on its draft noise action plan. This consultation closes on 15 January 2010.

James Brokenshire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the level of noise nuisance arising from aircraft using London City Airport; and what changes in that level have been recorded in the last 10 years. [303852]
Paul Clark: Responsibility for monitoring the noise levels of aircraft operating at London City airport rests with the airport operator. Under local planning agreements with the London borough of Newham, the airport is required to produce noise exposure contours on an annual basis. These are published on the London City airport consultative committee's website.
7 Dec 2009 : Column 37W

James Brokenshire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) jet and (b) propeller aircraft (i) arrivals and (ii) departures there have been at London City Airport in each of the last 10 years. [303853]

Paul Clark: The following tables show the number of jet and propeller aircraft arriving and departing London City airport from 1999 to 2008:

James Brokenshire: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has had discussions with the London Borough of Newham in connection with proposals to increase aircraft movements at London City Airport. [303854]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has not had any such discussions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

When taking photos in or around LCY becomes an arrestable act- or is it a PR coup?

At last weekends peaceful protest by a handful of Climate Camp Santa's in the airport terminal, it seemed that there was some concern at photographs being sent out to the wider world. A photographer, who is a member of the National Union of Journalists appears to have been arrested for simply doing their job.

You will recall that this is not the first time such an incident has happened. Previously a photo journalist, Jess Hurd was arrested and questioned for some ridiculous length of time for daring to take photos for a feature she was writing on a Romany wedding. Her crime? Well unfortunately for Jess Hurd, she dared to take photos of the happy Romany couple at their wedding - outside the Ramada Hotel, The Royal Docks. You can listen to her arrest here. What an utter disgrace this event was.

It's surprising what counts as 'crime' today, and what warrents being interrogated under the terrorism act, and arrested - it seems if you have a camera, and are near London City Airport, it automatically removes your human rights. Of course if you happen to live near LCY and wish to take photos then it appears you are dicing with the chance of being arrested, or being tracked by a helicopter. Our interest is very much about how the airport influences/dictates peoples lives and of them simply going about their daily activities and work in east London.

Further back in time a bird watcher had set up a tripod and scope in Wanstead to simply look at birds, the feathered variety, not the metal polluting variety. The SO19 London City Airport Police apparently thought he might be an international terrorist and pulled up, armed, and approached him. He was then questioned about what he was doing. "A police spokeswoman confirmed that armed officers based at City Airport approached the man as part of their anti-terrorism regime".
So if you fancy setting up your tripod and spotting scope, or long lens camera to take in the wildlife - as is not so uncommon in this country, and just happen to live in east London, then you have been warned. We'll consider the 'terrorism regime' the next time we're using the spotting scope to watch a curlew or a phalarope on the Thames which just so happens to be under the London City Airport flight path, as do many 1000's of peoples homes.

Even though security is essential to all our safety, you cannot help but wonder how much of this 'security' particularly when photographers are being arrested for covering protests/events is more about Public Relations control for the airport - basically of stifling reporting.

We've already seen the bully boy tactics of LCY on local papers and how far LCY are willing to go to keep the spin flowing and denying that there's opposition to the expansion. Surely the police security WE pay for at the airport couldn't possibly be used as pawns to minimise negative reporting?

This denial and desire to bury the 'opposition to expansion' was further illustrated by a rather ill informed article written by Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker in The Telegraph in September. She clearly had not carried out any independent research herself as she put in her feature a statement from the airport " that there are no vocal lobby groups campaigning against the expansion of London City ". Rather embarrassing for her, and the airport when FTF was just a few weeks away from being 2 years old (and there had been over 1000 letters and near 800 more signatures on a petition AGAINST expansion compared to just a over 300 letters from business in support of expansion, and around 3 of them from Royal Docks residents, one of which was a local councillor in the area), and that a legal challenge against the expansion was launched just two days later. You can't help but question how far a private business will go to deny and attempt to bury the opposition.
London City Airport really do show they have good 'community relations', sending out SO19 to meet and greet residents just going about their normal day to day lives is impressive.

NUJ slams photographer’s arrest

The NUJ has hit out at the arrest of a photojournalist at a London airport. In a week when the police’s treatment of photographers made front page news the union expressed shock that another journalist has been obstructed by officers from doing his job.

On Sunday an NUJ member was arrested by two armed police officers at London City Airport for an alleged assault on a member of airport security. The photographer fully denies any wrongdoing and the NUJ has instructed lawyers to defend him.

The photographer had been covering a small and peaceful protest by environmental campaigners in Santa outfits at the airport. He was arrested in the middle of filing pictures to national newspapers.Commenting on the news NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: "Despite the new advice to police officers it appears our members are being denied the right to work. We will continue to support members who are exercising their rights.

"NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff added: “While we welcome new guidance and undertakings to ensure that all officers, at whatever level, are aware of their responsibilities to the media, clearly much still needs to be done. The police must ensure that our members’ rights are respected and that what happens in practice reflects the agreed guidance.”9 December 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Council says no more to London City Airport Expansion

From Cllr Phil Briscoe

At the full Tower Hamlets Council meeting last night, agreement was reached on taking a harder line on the expansion of London City Airport.

Following a question from me about representation on the consultative committee, and then a motion proposed by myself and colleagues, the Labour councillors caved in and offered their own amended version of the motion.

All sides accepted the amended wording (text below) and agreement was reached. Tonight was a good night for the residents of Tower Hamlets who have campaigned long and hard to make their voices heard by the council.


This Council notes that:

• In 2006, London City Airport had a total of 79,436 aircraft movements

• Since then the airport has continued to expand and residents in some parts of the Borough, especially Poplar, Bow and the Isle of Dogs, are now suffering from a significant increase in the noise disturbance caused by planes to and from London City Airport flying overhead

• In July 2009 the London Borough of Newham granted planning permission to increase London City Airport’s total number of aircraft movements to 120,000 a year, a 50% increase on 2006 levels

• This Council raised serious concerns on behalf of residents in its submission to the July 2009 planning application but this wasn’t counted as a formal objection to the application

This Council further notes that:

• London City Airport is now consulting on its Noise Action Plan 2009-2014 but that this plan proposes only limited measures to avoid, prevent or reduce noise

• In response to complaints from other East London boroughs, the Civil Aviation Authority is reviewing a new flight path and that, should this flight path be removed, flights over Tower Hamlets council increase further

This Council resolves to:

• Oppose any further expansion of London City Airport

• To engage in discussions about flight paths with London City Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to ensure that changes to flight paths don’t materially disadvantage Tower Hamlets residents

• To publicise in East End Life the current consultation on the London City Airport Noise Action Plan 2009-2014 and to encourage residents to make their views known to the airport

• To actively seek the views of residents about this issue to inform the Council’s response to the consultation

• To respond to this consultation, highlighting the disturbance and nuisance being caused by noise from the airport and to seek further noise reduction and mitigation measures as part of the plan

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cllr Alan Craig on "The Ego Has Landed" - PR Costs and Consultations

It's always good to see someone who is brave enough to speak the truth and challenge issues that others simply don't seem to be motivated to challenge, perhaps because the situation benefits them to stay the way it is.

Cllr Alan Craig has written an illuminating article about a Mayor, a council, a letter to the Newham Recorder (which unsurprisingly has failed to be published in any form so far) and a rather large PR budget.

Here's the letter, but visit Cllr Craig's blog for the full article:

Dear Editor,

The Mayor must be very frustrated.

Each year he spends a fortune of Newham taxpayers’ money on public relations promoting himself and his administration. In glossy magazines and newspaper adverts; on billboards and bus stops; at borough events and in the borough parks – all over Newham there are photos of the Mayor and messages telling us how much wonderful work he is doing in the borough.
But his story doesn’t seem to have seeped over Newham’s boundaries into neighbouring boroughs.

I recently went to a Redbridge Council meeting at Ilford where councillors of all parties, including Labour, were unanimous in strongly condemning Newham for lack of consultation over the approved increase of flights at London City Airport. Redbridge residents live under the flight path too, yet like Newham residents they have been sidelined and stitched up. One Redbridge councillor said that the lack of dialogue from Newham “was politically insensitive and morally reprehensible”.

The previous month, Waltham Forest councillors from all parties including Labour unanimously agreed to make strong representation to Newham’s Mayor over the airport expansion. They are also considering legal action about the flight changes over their borough about which they were not consulted. Waltham Forest residents too have been sidelined and stitched up by Newham Council.

Clearly the Mayor’s public relations campaign hasn’t reached into these other boroughs. They can see his administration for what it really is.

Perhaps he ought to spend another fortune preening and promoting himself there. But this time, not at our expense.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Alan Craig

The Anthill Mob - Send Mega Messages to London City Airport

More activism against the harmful expansion of aviation and London City Airport this time by a group calling themselves the 'Anthill Mob'.

The Anthill Mob Press release: for immediate use
Photographs below

Eco-protesters reinforce anti aviation expansion message during Copenhagen climate talks

Activists in east London have painted two mega-messages against growth in aviation - and flights at London City Airport in particular - to coincide with the Copenhagen climate summit.

One message saying, ‘Still climate criminals!’ is written in giant letters on the top of a 60ft hill situated just south of London City Airport’s runway. Flights landing and taking off pass directly over the hill.

“It’s a message to the delegates flying to and back from Copenhagen,” explains Elsie Wai, spokesperson for local anti-expansion group, the Anthill Mob. “The conscientious will be taking the train but the selfish will be flying. We’re reminding the selfish delegates that they’ll remain climate criminals until they start thinking green.”

The message also refers to London City Airport’s continuing bid to increase business flights and private jet use. The airport currently has approximately 80,000 commercial flights a year on its timetable. It aims to increase this figure to 170,000 by 2030. “That means more pollution, more global warming and more misery for local people,” says Elsie.

The Anthill Mob’s second message is written in 10ft high letters along the boundary fence of Tate & Lyle’s sugar refinery - situated beside the Docklands Light Railway approach to the airport. The message reads: ‘Drop the sweet talk: no flight expansion at City Airport.’

London City Airport has consistently claimed that it contributes to the local community and that more flights will bring more jobs. However, Elsie Wai says it’s too little, too late.

‘You only have to look around the area next to the airport to see that it is in terminal decline,’ she says. ‘The airport must have made millions in profits but all we have in return is more noise and more pollution.’ Elsie dismisses the jobs claim adding, ’Pretty much everything at City Airport is automated. As it stands, a tiny number of people benefit from employment at the airport while the wider community and the climate suffers.’

Cases of asthma and child mortality are already above the national average in the borough of Newham – where the airport is based. A massive increase in pollution from the airport will further blight one of the poorest areas in London.

For more information contact Elsie Wai on: 07506 006597

Notes to the editor:

Until the downturn, the private jet business was the fastest growing segment of the aviation sector. Over the last ten years it has expanded by almost 50% compared with a growth rate of 19% for commercial flights.

London City Airport is one of the key drivers of the private jet business. The airport currently sees an average of 170 movements (take-offs and landings) per week. The airport’s Jet Centre predicts this figure will increase to more than 530 a week by 2030.

Santaclaus Highlights High Flying Hypocrisy at London City Airport

The Climate Campers have paid a visit to LCY to meet those politicians who claim to care about the environment, but will of course be flying to Copenhagen.

Climate Camp press release from Indymedia:

Climate Refugee Santas in City Airport Protest
Published: Sunday 06 December 2009 20:22 by Fyi


20 Climate activists dressed as Santa Claus were pushed out of London City Airport departures lounge today by police and security guards. Presents of cartoon books about the problems with carbon trading, carbon ration books, and toy trains were left undelivered. These were meant for the passengers on the final flight to Copenhagen before the COP15 climate talks begin.
The Santas' photographer was arrested. The activists managed to publish a picture of the arrest on Twitter (1) along with another image of the Santas in action (2)

The activists sang Climate Change-themed Christmas carols, including "Silent Plight" and "God Rest We Merry Carbon Traders", in the airport lobby.

A Santa Claus said: "The hypocrisy of flying to the Copenhagen talks is unbelievable. It just goes to show that for the politicians and corporate lobbyists in Copenhagen, these talks are no more than business as usual.

"If governments agree a deal based on false solutions like carbon trading, I shall have to take direct action by getting stuck in a whole lot more chimneys"
Climate refugee santas at City Airport singing as the last flights leave before Cop15 starts
Photographer for Climate Refugee Santas is Arrested

Contact: 07040 900 905press at


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Controversial New City Airport Flight Path to be Reviewed

A controversial new City Airport flight path, introduced earlier this year, is to be reviewed. In a letter to the campaign group Fight the Flights, the Civil Aviation Authority, has said that the flight path will be reviewed next year.

The flight path has resulted in flights taking off from City Airport flying over many areas on East London for the first time. Amongst the areas affected are Leytonstone, Wanstead, Newbury Park and parts of Havering. The boroughs of Waltham Forest and Redbridge have formally complained that they were not properly consulted.

The Civil Aviation Authority has told Fight the Flights that a review of the flight path will need to be carried out approximately a year after it was installed on 7th May 2009. Amongst the things the review will examine is the impact of people on the ground.

Anne-Marie Griffin, Chair of Fight the Flights, said, “We welcome this review. We want to make sure that residents get their opportunity to have their say about the affect the new flight path has had on their lives. Most people had no idea that the flight path was changing.”


Press Release dated: 1 December 2009

Notes to the Editor:

London City Airport Fight the Flights is a non party political group made up of residents from across the boroughs whom are negatively affected by the expansion of London City Airport.

In September 2009 Fight the Flights, with the assistance of Friends of the Earth's Rights and Justice Centre, launched a legal challenge against the London Borough of Newham regarding the legality of their decision to allow a 50% increase in flights from the airport.

Fight the Flights is anti expansion, not anti aviation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Real Effects Of London City Airport On The Communities

Newham Residents talk at the Oxfam Climate Question Time at City Hall on the 26th of November 2009. Listen to how developments like London City Airport have brought so many negative elements to the local communities.
This is the real story of aviation and airport expansion in East London

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Legal Challenge Against Newham Council Over LCY Expansion

This is a reminder that we are legally challenging Newham Council regarding the legality of their decision to allow a 50% increase in flights from London City Airport.

We continue to seek funding and donations, no matter how small or large. Every £1 counts. You can see ways to donate on the right hand side of this page. Pledges are also welcome.

We are the only group legally challenging Newham and this could result in the decision to allow a 50% increase in flights being quashed.

But we can only do that with financial support from the communities. Please give generously.

Will chemically treated, frozen human waste from LCY aircraft be dropping in on you?

In the minutes of the LCACC quarterly meetings are the lists of complaints that London City Airport have received in the 3 previous months to each meeting. As you will remember, FTF has questioned just how accurate the numbers of complaints are, and with good cause.

You may recall that residents spotted that their own complaints had not been listed on meeting minutes in the past and it led us, to not unfairly, question the accuracy and efficiency of London City Airports competency to log complaints. One resident for example had made several complaints, and not one had been responded to, neither had they been included on the complaints list in the minutes.

Newham Council are now apparently helping with this, London City Airport needs help with the process of recording a complaint, and being able to identify what a complaint is.

In the most recent set of LCACC minutes, 6 October 2009, we came across an intriguing complaint from a resident in Thamesmead, Greenwich, an area which is partially covered by the crash zone and under the low level flight path:

Tuesday 11 August 2009, 15:00, Thamesmead
Alleged dumping of toilet waste
Response [from LCY]: Letter - aircraft technically unable to 'dump'. Likely 'blue ice' syndrome.

Blue Ice syndrome? That sounds rather glamorous until you realise it is an 'aviation fluffy term' for when commercial jets leak toilet waste through poorly maintained seals.

The human waste, mixed with liquid disinfectant can, and has been frequently reported as leaking through seals, freezing at altitude, and then as the aircraft descends, begins to thaw and if you are really very unlucky you can end up with a block of varying sizes, of human waste landing on you, your home or car. And you thought the negative impact of larger and more frequent jets was limited to noise and air pollution, now it appears to be expanding to the possibility of frozen human waste dropping in on you.

Cases of 'blue ice' have been well covered in the press too:

Date : 01.11.06

A Block of ice fell from the sky, narrowly missing a grandmother and her granddaughter yesterday.Valerie Allcock was getting out of her car on the drive of her Chaddesden home when the ice, weighing about 5lbs, came crashing through a tree in her garden.Mrs Allcock, who was with her seven-year-old granddaughter, Emily Allcock, believes it fell from an aeroplane.

She said: "It landed about 7ft away. It was very scary."It would certainly have killed us if it had hit us. Also, my house backs on to a school. It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened."

Mrs Allcock, of Parkside Road, said she had contacted the Civil Aviation Authority and was told blocks of ice do sometimes fall from aircraft.

Ice-falls are reported 20 or 30 times a year on average in the UK.

and there's more:,falling-ice-home-north-side-airplane-110509.article

It is unfortunate that LCY fails to put more details of the incident in their report, but it appears that full details will be required by the CAA. But regardless of what those details were this clearly would not have been a pleasant experience for the resident concerned and we hope that no damage was caused to them, or their property.

Blue Ice along with wake turbulence is just another sacrifice and cost that residents have to pick up, all due to the ridiculous expansion of London City Airport in the most densely populated area of the country where incidents like these have a higher chance of affecting humans, and property.

Redbridge to write to Sir Robin Wales condemning the failure of Newham to consult

It was revealed this week that Newham Council is the biggest spender on publicity of all the London boroughs, spending £3.896 million.

It is therefore in stark contrast that Redbridge Council's chief executive is having to write to the Mayor of Newham condemning the lack of consultation with his borough over the expansion of flights from London City Airport.

This also joins the borough of Waltham Forests' action against the Mayor of Newham over the very same issue.

At a full council meeting in Redbridge Town Hall, all parties unanimously supported a motion submitted by the Lib Dems to Redbridge full council meeting 19 November 2009 regarding Newhams failure to consult over the expansion of London City Airport:

"This Council recognises residents' concern over (a) the expansion of London City Airport, and

(b) flight path changes relating to "stacking" for London Heathrow Airport, believes the increased number of flights using these airports - and the associated noise nuisance and environmental impact - is detrimental to Redbridge residents.

This Council further notes:-

(i) the failure of the London Borough of Newham to consult it in connection with the planning application for the expansion of London City Airport.

(ii) the representations made through London Councils Transport and Environment Committee in response to the consultation by National Air Traffic Services (NATS) on Terminal Control North (TCN) concerning proposed changes to aircraft movement over London and London Councils response to that consultation dated 12 June 2008 raising concerns about the Government’s policy on airport expansion and the likely noise, air quality and safety concerns of concentrating flight paths, particularly over densely populated areas;

(iii) the Civil Aviation Authority’s notice to NATS dated 20 February 2009 requiring NATS to implement the proposals for TCN notwithstanding the opposition expressed through the public consultation;

(iv) the report presented to the Planning and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee on 24 June 2009 considering the potential impact on the London Borough of Redbridge of a possible third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow Airport.

This Council opposes further expansion or changes to flightpaths or the mode of operation of airports (including without limitation any extension to the hours of operation of airports whether temporary or permanent) which would result in an increase in aircraft noise suffered by residents of this borough.

Therefore this Council requests that the Chief Executive :

Writes to the Mayor of Newham, condemning the failure to consult this Council and their decision to allow further expansion of London City Airport, stressing the negative impact this decision has had on residents of Redbridge.

Writes to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and NATS to ask what action they took to consult residents of Redbridge on the changes to flight paths and London City Airport expansion.

Writes to London City Airport in response to their consultation on their proposed Noise Action Plan 2009-2014 stating that this council is opposed to any further expansion of London City Airport, changes to its mode of operation, hours of operation, flight paths or any increase in the number of flights which would result in any increase in aircraft noise suffered by residents of this borough".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's really not about polar bears any more...

Unless it's got a brand name attached to it the only other way to get a message across to the public is to shock them. Not the easiest to watch but you get the message.

From the ever insightful and intelligent Plane Stupid Team.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Redbridge: Unanimous support for Lib Dem motion against London City Airport Expansion

Tonight we witnessed a borough which takes on board the concerns of their residents and acts upon it. We applaud Redbridge council, the evening was an impressive one.
All parties unanimously supported the Lib Dem motion regarding the expansion of London City Airport and a lack of consultation from Newham Council.

Many notable comments were made by all of the parties, and they showed great knowledge and insight into the negative issues of London City Airport flights, expansion and flight paths on residents and the environment.

The motion supported stated that Redbridge opposed expansion of London City Airport and associated points which we will comment upon tomorrow. One councillor commented that "the lack of dialogue from Newham was politically insensitive and morally reprehensible"

FTF residents from Redbridge, Havering, Newham, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich were present to support the motion and the councillors. John Stewart from HACAN and Cllr Alan Craig of Newham also attended the protest and meeting to show their support

We would like to thank Redbridge Council for the warm and accommodating welcome to FTF and the protestors.

Full story tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Redbridge Protest This Thursday

Fight the Flights call- out for a protest on:

Thursday Nov. 19th @ 6.30pm prompt at
London Borough Redbridge Council Chamber, Ilford Town Hall, Ilford High Road
Please come along , bring a friend; pass this on. Meet outside, or at the eastern
entrance opposite Kenneth More Theatre

Redbridge Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion over the expansion of London City Airport.

Neither Redbridge nor Waltham Forest were consulted by Newham,so none of their residents have ever had an opportunity to object to the 50% increase in flights or the current flight path changes pushed through without proper consultation by the CAA!

So, bring a poster, banner, friend and wear red or your t-shirt to help us stop
(London City) Airport expansion and to act on climate change

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FTF at The Green Bazaar- Residents say not happy with London City Airport

Congratulations to the Green Party for running a successful and enjoyable event in the Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Bazaar last Saturday. The event saw a selection of quality stalls and was well received by visitors.

FTF attended with facts and information on the effect of London City Airport expansion and flight path changes, and how these are already affecting the communities in the borough. Leaflets, badges and t shirts were available whilst a rolling screen presentation was projected onto the wall.

Yet again,we had so many residents telling us how badly affected they are by London City Airport flights, and also that even though they do not want the airport to close, they do not support any expansion at the site. We also had other residents who said that they had moved away from areas affected from the flight path, only to now find themselves yet again blighted by aircraft noise.

A local resident generously donated an organically grown vegetable box from the fruits of their work at their own allotment, and this was raffled at the end of the event. It proved very popular with visitors to the bazaar and helped us to raise much needed funds for the legal challenge that FTF is currently pursuing.

The raffle was kindly drawn by Jean Lambert, MEP pictured above with Chair of FTF, Anne-Marie Griffin.

The veggie box was later delivered to the lucky winner Joyce, pictured on right hand side in photo to left.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Redbridge Council Deal Another Blow to Newham Over LCY

Last month it was Waltham Forest Council condemning Newham Council over it's decision to approve a 50% increase in flights at London City Airport without consulting it's Redbridge Council's turn to. It seems that Newham Council won few friends when they inflicted London City Airport aircraft noise on proportionately more in other boroughs than even in their own:

Redbridge Full Council Meeting

Thursday, 19th November, 2009 7.15 p.m.
Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1DD

To consider the following Notices of Motion:-

(i) Expansion of London Airport

Motion to be Moved by Councillor Hoskins and Seconded by Councillor Cleaver:

"This Council recognises residents' concern over (a) the expansion of London City Airport, and (b) flight path changes relating to "stacking" for London Heathrow Airport, believes the increased number of flights using these airports - and the associated noise nuisance and environmental impact - is detrimental to Redbridge residents.

Therefore this Council requests that the Chief Executive :

Carries out an immediate investigation into what Redbridge Council knew about the London City expansion and flight path changes, and what action was taken on the Council's behalf.

Writes to the Mayor of Newham, condemning the inadequate consultation and their decision to allow further expansion of London City Airport, stressing the negative impact this decision has had on residents of Redbridge.

Writes to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and NATS to ask what action they took to consult residents of Redbridge on the changes to flight paths and London City Airport expansion.

Asks the EU commissioner to investigate the expansion of London City Airport and the impact it has on residents of Redbridge and East London.

Investigates the option of Redbridge Council launching its own legal action against Newham Council over its inadequate consultation on the expansion of London City Airport.

This Council requests that the Chief Executive reports his findings back to councillors at the earliest possible opportunity."

Tomorrow: Green Bazaar - Wanstead

FTF is pleased to announce that it will be present at the Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party Green Bazaar tomorrow. Please come along, meet some of the residents behind the campaign, find out more about the campaign, London City Airport expansion and how the continued irresponsible expansion of flights is damaging our environment, health and children's development.


Saturday 14th November
11am to 3pm

United Reformed Church Hall

off Wanstead High Street
(junction of Grosvenor Road with Nightingale Lane)

* Wide range of locally made goods:
cards, jewellery, prints, beauty products and more*
* Gift ideas with a difference*
*Information from local campaigns*
*Caricature artist*
*Refreshments and delicious vegan food*

Admission 50p/ concessions 30p – children free
Organised by Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party