Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Makes For A Higher Risk of Bird Strike? Being near water, refuse tips and processing plants

It's a story we've covered before, because we found the airport didn't appear to bother to focus on in it's application to expand and we had some major concerns - Bird Strike.
On the BBC today - (just a shame it didn't do more of an investigative piece), but perhaps that's one for them in the future), they report that: "Airport geese risks played down". Apparently according to Lord Adonis and ministers, the threat of bird strike at a UK airport similar to the recent incident in New York is kept under constant scrutiny".

Who does this highly responsible job fall down on?: the regulators of course, the CAA to ensure airports are safe. We can't say that there's a lot of confidence in any of the regulators anymore, and with good reason too. The CAA are no exception. All policy and guidance but not much bite is the signature of most 'regulators'.

Apparently the amount of birds around Heathrow is not "unusual". Well we'd like to invite Lord Adonis to come along to the areas around London City Airport - yes we might still be regarded as the 'city' over here - but we can assure him that there are plenty of birds, and growing but we suspect that he'd say the amount of birds was not 'unusual'. He's right in many ways. And why shouldn't there be a growing amount of birds? Why? The river Thames is attracting increasing numbers, as does the Beckton sewage works, and the Crossness Sewage works in Bexley, which City Airport planes fly directly over as they follow up the Thames. Of course, this doesn't include the recycling plants and household waste tips. Nor does it take into account the nature reserves and brownfield areas which wildlife thrive in. Personally we love nature, and the natural world so more birds than 50% more planes is fine by us, in fact 50% more heron poles should be the order of the day. They at least don't emit emissions which are harmful to human beings and fill their lungs with fine particulate matters which make us all ill.

FTF wrote an items on high risk strike birds conflicting with more flights from London City Airport: swans, geese, cormorants, herons, seagulls etc. Unsurprisingly there was little mention of the risk of bird strike with more planes over south and east London - in relation to the large amount of water and sites which attract birds. Newham Planning didn't have an idea about it in their usual knowledgeable manner, and considering the CAA were not even consulted on the planning application to increase flights by 50% you can see yet again it was business as usual at London City Airport - trying to bury the negatives and risks yet again. Even beneath the CAA's nose perhaps?

There's been two serious cases of bird strike which come to mind in the past 12 months: the Ryan Air Plane in Italy and the more recent one form La Guardia airport, New York.

The BBC asked "if a similar incident could occur in the UK, Lord Adonis told peers that airports used techniques such as risk assessment and habitat management to "reduce" the risk of a bird strike". Can we hear LCA already penning a proposal to cement the River Thames, Lea, Royal Albert Dock, canals and all green areas over just in case bird strike should actually be taken seriously by planning committees and affect future expansion? Oh whoops, we forgot they have already started thinking using concrete over yet more water, silly us!! In fact why not just concrete over the whole of the south east and turn it into one big runway...? We are of course being sarcastic, but in reality that is what the aviation industry appear to want.

"The government also had sufficient powers to control birds around airports through close co-operation with local councils and landowners, he added". We can tell Lord Adonis that this does not go much beyond London City Airport objecting to new planning applications - the councils over this side of London (and we realise it is a long way from Westminster for some) have no idea about the safeguarding area, and what they should be doing in relation to ensuring the safety of the people under the flight paths. I suspect most have not even heard of the CAA or CAP 772.

So confidence all round in London City Airport, the CAA and your local council? Nope, not from here - Newham didn't even see fit to mention the issue in the consideration of 50% more flights so what hope is there for them to consider such risks now?