Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Friends of the Earth press release

Newham council is being taken to court today [28 September 2009] by local residents over its decision to allow a 50 per cent increase in flights at London City Airport without considering changes to Government policy on climate change or consulting local people.

Fight The Flights, a community group represented by lawyers at Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre, says that before approving the airport’s expansion in July this year, the council should have considered the Government’s intention to reduce aviation emissions to below 2005 levels by 2050 – part of its effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act.

Fight The Flights said Newham council had also failed to consult neighbouring boroughs such as Waltham Forest, even though they will be significantly affected as a result of changes to flight paths since July.

Fight The Flights’ Anne-Marie Griffin said:

“Increasing flights at London City Airport is completely wrong – it will bump up carbon emissions and add to the misery of local people who are already suffering from poor air quality and noise disturbance. There are much better ways to bring jobs to this area.

“We appeal to members of the public who care about the environment and about our community to help us fight this decision by donating to help fund our legal challenge.”

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Legal Phil Michaels said:

“The decision to expand London City Airport is ludicrous and should be reversed – to tackle climate change we urgently need to curb flights, not increase them.

“This legal challenge aims to give both the planet and local people a voice in this sort of decision.

“Councils have a vital role to play in delivering the emissions cuts science tells us are needed – instead of supporting airport expansion Mayor Boris Johnson should be helping London boroughs boost their local economies in ways that will benefit both people and the environment.

“If the Government is serious about tackling climate change it must drop all its plans to expand British airports and concentrate on making low-carbon alternatives to flying – such as fast rail services and teleconferencing – an attractive and affordable option.”

Newham’s decision to expand the airport will increase flights from the airport from 73,000 to 120,000 a year. Fight The Flights is appealing to the public to help fund its legal challenge against the council by pledging donations via post and its website. The group will also be protesting at London City Airport tomorrow [29 September 2009], as the first of British Airways’ new twice-daily transatlantic business flights leave LCA for New York – also criticised by Friends of the Earth on climate grounds.


Notes to Editors

1. The decision to increase flights at London City Airport by 50 per cent was initially made in October 2008. Friends of the Earth’s Rights and Justice Centre submitted a number of letters to Newham council in protest, raising the issues of climate change, air quality and race equality. On 15 January 2009 the Government announced its intention to reduce aviation emissions to below 2005 levels by 2050. Newham council decided to proceed with expansion anyway, reconfirming their decision at a planning meeting on 8 July 2009 and issuing formal grant of approval. The council responded to Friends of the Earth’s letters in a report, saying despite the various issues raised, they would still proceed with expansion.

Fight The Flights has a blog at To raise funds for the legal challenge they are asking members of the public to donate money. Cheques and correspondence should be sent to Fight The Flights Coalition, PO Box 64858, London SE28 9AQ. To pay by Paypal and for more information see Details of the group’s demonstration tomorrow against British Airways new business flights can be found at

Friends of the Earth’s reaction to the new twice daily 32-seater business flights from London City Airport to New York is available at

Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre provides access to legal advice and representation to people wishing to use the law to protect their communities and the environment. The Centre operates a free legal advice line for members of the public on 0808 801 0405 (open between 6.30-8.30 pm on Wednesday and 11-2pm on Thursday). Further information at

Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. For further information visit

Press Release: Colourful Demo Marks City Airport’s First Transatlantic Flight

Photos of protest credit: Mike Russell

Protestors were out in force when City Airport’s first transatlantic flight to New York took off at 12.50 yesterday. Local group Fight the Flights was joined by supporters from Plane Stupid and from the Heathrow campaign group HACAN with which Flights the Flights have recently formed an alliance.

The campaigners dressed as City yuppies held a mock celebration at London City Airport with banners proclaiming 'We love carbon emissions' and 'global warming is cool' and also making a lot of noise using whistles, drums and horns.

BA’s new service from London City Airport to New York is a luxury all-business service, with just 32 seats on an aircraft normally fitted for 100 people.

Alan Haughton, from Fight the Flights said, “We had a lot of fun but the message was deadly serious. The super-rich are getting pampered. The super-poor are under the flight path getting the noise and pollution. No wonder people are angry.”

Elizabeth Baines, from Plane Stupid, said, “This makes a mockery of all BA’s claims that they want to cut their emissions. This sort of flight should have no place in a world threatened by climate change.”

Earlier this week Fight the Flights launched a legal challenge against Newham Council’s recent decision to give City Airport approval to expand flight numbers by 50%.


Press Release dated 30th October 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Protest against New York flight from London City Airport

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Protestors At LCY Send A Clear Message

Left: Photo courtesy of Mike Russell.

Protestors from Plane Stupid and Fight the Flights sent a clear message to London City Airport today: to stop polluting the air, damaging the environment and making the poorest people pay for the rich.

Whilst LCY and BA celebrated the introduction of a ludricously polluting flight to New York each day, it was highlighted that those 32 people in the A318 are the same number of people who will die in London from air pollution in the time it takes for the return journey.

Protestors laid down three doll corpses with posters highlighting the number of premature deaths in London each year from air pollution.

Aviation fuel has a number of additives which are harmful to human life. Benzene is one, and is connected with childhood leukeamia. Pollution from London City Airport is estimated to travel as far as 20 miles downwind of the runway affecting some of the most densely populated residential areas in the UK. PM10s are small particulate matter which are present in the air from emissions and these are also harmful to human health, and are linked to a variety of diseases, including asthma. Newham has the highest mortality rates in under 30's with asthma in the whole of the country. Residents in Beckton have expressed their concern at what they state are the high level of incidents of childhood leukeamia in their communities.

We're sure that the 32 passengers on the A318 today didn't spend a moment thinking about how their choice to fly in a disproportionately polluting aircraft would affect the children at Drew Road Primary School, or indeed any of the schools beneath the low level flight path, nor some of the poorest and most socially deprived communities in the country. But it's about time they did.

British Airways is very good at spinning environmental greenwash and rhetoric, but in reality it appears that it is not worth the paper it is written on and todays launch is no better evidence of that.

Perhaps British Airways should speak to a few of the residents beneath their flight path in East London that are forced to use ventolin each day as a result of poor air quality and with awareness that the air above London City Airport is already exceeding EU recommended levels by 50%. It is quite shameful.

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British Airways & London City Airport Launch A318 NY Service

Whilst British Airways & London City Airport celebrate the benefit of 64 passengers a day flying first class return to New York, consider the following:






TODAY! Let's give some noise back to London City Airport

Protest against more flights at London City Airport

Tuesday September 29th at 11:50am

London City Airport introduces a new business-only service from London to New York.

A return ticket costs over £3,000. So, that's luxury for a few rich passengers - and more noise pollution for everyone living under the flight path.

By 2030, London City Airport aims to add another 90,000 flights each year to its timetable, including bigger, noisier, jets. How much more do they expect us to take?

The borough of Newham is already suffering from severe air pollution problems (Newham has higher than average asthma and infant death rates for the UK). A huge increase in flights will make our community even more vulnerable.

If the airport is going to make a load of noise, so are we.

On the morning of the first London-New York flight, a group of local people will be gathering outside the entrance to show the airport what it's like to be disturbed by unwanted noise. We're bringing pots and pans, trumpets,whistles, horns.anything that makes a racket. We'll also be wearing a selection of colourful masks to give the protest, a positive, carnival feel.
Come and join us! 11:50am outside the airport entrance.

Monday, September 28, 2009

LCYs New Flight Path 'Surprise' Erodes Leyton and Wanstead's Peace

For some months now we have been getting a steady stream of emails from residents in the Leyton and Wanstead areas. All the residents emailing have been saying the same: that whilst not having been affected by aircraft noise in the past, they suddenly found themselves to be in the past few months.

Why? Well most of the residents know something has changed just by the noise and the sight of London City Airport flights crawling over their rooftops. But in so far as the residents being told what has happened, and why things have/or were to change - the vast majority were told nothing.

To help explain we need to turn the clock back to last summer.

Last year the government asked the aviation industries National Air Traffic Systems (NATS work out the flight paths and form air traffic control) to look at making some changes to flight paths. It wasn't a favour of course, money was exchanged for the service.

London and the south east are identified by NATS as Terminal Control North (TCN). TCN is one of the most complex and busiest airspaces in the UK, and probably Europe. Put this into context with a government that can't get enough flights into the sky, and the aviation industry who want the same and suddenly a plan is needed as to how all these extra flights could be fitted into our already overcrowded skies.

So NATS launched a consultation last year, though not many people knew about it, especially those that might be affected by the changes proposed. NATS placed a few consultation packs in local libraries at a time when libraries appear to be in terminal decline, and online. By some sheer accident NATS did receive some feedback on the proposals: and the feedback was so negative that NATS made the following statement:

"In February 23 2009 NATS announced that it is to conduct a new consultation on revised proposals for the TCN region".

Within those original proposals was a set for the change of flight paths for London City Airport. Because London City Airport is now using more and more larger planes, mostly jets, whilst propeller plane use is reduced the Civil Aviation Authority told us that flight path changes would have to be made. This is due to the fact that a jet cannot follow the same flight path as a propeller plane - particularly when arching - or turning in layman's terms. This is 100% a choice of London City Airport to increase the use of these bigger jets over propeller planes, and it is because of this that the flight paths have changed. LCY will tell you they are not responsible - yet the responsiblity lies very much on their runway.

The Civil Aviation Authority and London City Airport have been giving out interesting and conflicting responses to residents who have been complaining for the first time, and both have produced their own internal conflicting responses. They mention SIDs (Standard Instrument Departures) and in one sentence say there has been no flight path change, only in the next to state their has been a 'shift' and in another response admitting there has indeed been a change.

Take it from us, and your own ears: there has been a change, and the Civil Aviation Authority paperwork confirms this. Flight paths have changed over the Wanstead and Leyton areas - they have moved to affect homes which had previously not been affected. The CAA's authorisation of this change acknowledged that the change was not ideal, but pretty much stated that there was nowhere else for London City Airports big jets to fly over, so it's just tough luck.

You might be asking, why did this change go ahead though, when NATs issued a statement saying that "In February 23 2009 NATS announced that it is to conduct a new consultation on revised proposals for the TCN region". Well exactly!

NATS made that statement and then the Civil Aviation Authority promptly went and signed off the TCN proposals for change at London City Airport. Sneaky eh? One of our seasoned technical colleagues made the following comments on this whole smoke and mirror affair:

This is a splendid example of what lawyers termed "suppressio veri and suggestio falsi" until dog-Latin disappeared from the courts.

The routing of flights HAS been changed. Maybe not by a lot, bit it has changed. What they've done is develop a line of argument that the departure routes "are not designed for modern aircraft" (that's code for "heavier aircraft, flying faster, and with FMS settings designed more for passenger comfort than carrying out tighter turns").

Note that any consideration of the obverse: not permitting the use of aircraft which cannot follow the established SIDs; never enters their consiousness.

And it is downright shameful to claim that the required airspace change has gone though ALL of the stages of CAA's Airspace Change Process as defined in CAP725. What seems to have happened is that these changes for City were included in the TC North proposals, which got a severe kicking from the public and were withdrawn - EXCEPT that CAA were persuaded that despite accepting that TC North proposals were dead in the water, they could nod through the City component of those proposals in isolation, without telling too many people about it, nevertheless claiming that they'd followed the CAP725 rules. Disingenuous, or what?

What more can we say? Don't forget if you are a resident in these areas please check out our information on 'what you can do' and the meeting this Friday in Leyton.

Useful Links:

CAA Authorisation to change LCY flight paths:

CAA Announce Changes to flight path at LCY:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

London City Airport Gets a Makeover from Plane Stupid

Well it seems that the voices of opposition to the expansion at London City Airport continue to grow...but we'll let the airport continue to tell the press that there ''is no local vocal opposition'' if it makes them feel better!

We don't need to tell our regular readers about the level of opposition to expansion in the communities whom are affected across east and south east London, so instead we will refer you to the blog of Anna on Plane Stupid about how PS feel about the expansion of London City Airport.

Whether you agree with direct action groups such as PS or not, they raise many good points about the environment AND the community in regards to LCY's expansion and you can read them here.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Justice? - Donate to the legal challenge

If you want justice over the expansion of London City Airport, then unfortunately the only way your likely to experience it is if you pay to challenge the decision by Newham to allow a 50% increase in flights.

We have a legal team who have been working on this for us for over a year, they are dedicated, talented, and extremely committed.

Most people can't launch legal challenges as the costs are prohibitive: however you can donate to our legal challenge fund and let us do the work for you. We've been challenging the airport and the council for two years now on various different issues: we have made a difference.

Think of the difference your donation could make to our legals: please donate as much as you can by using the details to the right of the page: by paypal or cheque.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

London Councils response to the NATS Consultation on Airspace Changes to the Terminal Control North Region

Yet more surprises:

It now becomes clear that the London Councils Transport Environment Committee was not at all satisfied with the proposed flight path changes that were enforced by London City Airport flying more jets and more flights. The committee has also commented that it did not feel that the consultation was adequate, they describe this as not giving a 'true picture of the impact of overflying aircraft on the Terminal Control North area'.

All those residents in the newly affected areas, would surely agree, however residents have been saying the very same for over a year, but of course NATS, London City Airport and the Government care not for residents, only big business. Read the whole letter beneath to read what you had hoped your local council had said for you, in your area, but which many such as the London Borough of Greenwich, Redbridge and Newham failed to do.

London Councils response to the NATS Consultation on Airspace Changes to the Terminal Control North Region
London Councils Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) is a statutory joint committee representing all 32 London boroughs and the City of London. It is the main voice of the London boroughs and of their electorates on a wide range of issues relating to transport and the environment in London and related matters of concern to Londoners. It also carries out a number of statutory functions and works closely with the Local Government Association and with many private, voluntary and public sector bodies. London Councils TEC has considered the provisions contained within the consultation document and would like to make the following comments:

Consultation Process
London Councils is concerned that the consultation document does not give a true picture of the impact of overflying aircraft on the Terminal Control North (TCN) region. The consultation documents and associated maps only consider routes that are subject to change and do not address existing routes where changes are not proposed. Therefore, anyone reviewing the documents will not obtain a full understanding of the numbers of aircraft flying across the region, or the cumulative impact that will result from the proposed changes.

The consultation document has set out the preferred options but does not provide any information regarding the basis on which these options have been chosen. In particular, it is unclear what weighting has been given to key factors such as environmental and community impacts, safety, efficiencies and cost savings for airline operators. Understanding how these options were selected is necessary to enable stakeholders to fully understand what they are being asked to consider. For example, if the individual options proposed offer the greatest benefits in terms of noise reduction, then affected communities may view them very differently to options that have been selected because they offer the greatest cost savings to airline operators.

In addition, London Councils believes that an exercise to ascertain whether additional airspace capacity is actually necessary should have taken place prior to this consultation. London Councils opposes the Government’s ‘predict and provide’ policy towards providing airport capacity, as simply accepting projections based on previous growth trends is contrary to other parts of transport policy, such as road policy, where the principle of ‘predict and provide’ was abandoned as unrealistic over a decade ago. Rather than seeking to restructure and release airspace capacity to accommodate additional demand for flights, an exercise to ascertain whether this additional capacity is even necessary, including a comprehensive review of current operational arrangements at airports, should have taken place before any redesign of airspace arrangements.

The consultation document states that it “is not seeking, and will not respond to, feedback concerning the effects of aviation growth, focusing instead on the effect of the airspace change proposed” and the proposal “is not associated with, and does not assume, further development of Heathrow, Stansted or any of the other airports in the region”. However, London Councils questions how the issue of aviation growth can be separated from the proposals contained within the consultation document. The proposals in the consultation document cover the period up until 2014, during which time, should the current planning limits be lifted, Stansted could see an increase in the number of passengers using the airport from 25-35mppa. In addition, the recent DfT consultation on Adding Capacity at Heathrow has stated that mixed mode operations could be introduced at Heathrow as early as 2010/11. It is unclear whether these changes have been factored in to these proposals.

Furthermore, the recent DfT consultation on Adding Capacity at Heathrow, states that studies carried out by NATS to assess the impact of a third runway have indicated that: “airspace in the London area would require a significant re-design to accommodate growth at Heathrow” and it is not clear if this work represents the first stage of work needed to accommodate additional growth at Heathrow, or is entirely separate. London Councils is concerned that the consultation document has failed to provide any information regarding how any proposed increase in flights will impact upon airspace, whether this restructuring is taking place to accommodate future growth in air transport, which still has yet to be agreed, or whether any increase in airport capacity will require further restructuring of airspace arrangements in London. Without this information it is difficult for communities and stakeholders to make an informed decision regarding how these proposals will impact on them.

Aircraft noise adversely affects an increasing number of residents in London, and this situation is likely to become worse as the number of flights in to London’s airports increases. While these proposals benefit some London authorities, others will experience a greater degree of disturbance. London Councils has noted that this document uses the 57dBA contour as the definition of the limit of the onset of significant community annoyance, which was established in the 1985 United Kingdom Aircraft Noise Index Study (ANIS). However, the findings of the more recent Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) survey, which the Government commissioned in 2001 following on from the Terminal 5 enquiry, found that the onset of significant community annoyance is actually a much lower level of 50 dBA. This correlates with research carried out by the Institute for Public Policy Research which has suggested that the Government’s classification of unacceptable levels of noise to 57dBA is too high.

The Government questioned the findings of the ANASE study in the recent consultation on Adding Capacity at Heathrow, but the reason behind the refusal to accept the findings of a six year Government commissioned study, carried out by international experts and the reason why it is felt that this is less reliable than a 23 year old study was not made clear. The World Health Organisation believes that exposure to noise at 55 dBA and above has a harmful impact on children’s learning. No consideration is made in this consultation document regarding the number of people that will be affected at the 50dBA level and it is disappointing that NATS has also chosen not to provide this information, despite the recommendations of the ANASE study. The consultation document indicates the population counts within the 57dBA contour at Stansted, Luton, London City (by 11%) and Northolt will all increase under these proposals. Although the numbers within the 57dBa contour at Heathrow will decrease slightly, the numbers affected in the 66, 69 and 72 dBA contours will all increase. It is, however, difficult to get a true picture of the overall impact of the proposed changes on noise levels. This is because the figures do not consider any increase in noise resulting from an increase in the number of flights, nor do they consider the noise generated by other routes that are not being considered as part of this consultation.

Furthermore, it is also important to note that the population of London, and indeed that of the South East, is growing at a considerable rate and the construction of large numbers of new homes is planned across the region. It is not clear whether the calculations have taken into account the population increases that have been forecast and the numbers of homes that are expected to be constructed by 2014. This is likely to significantly increase the numbers of people in the region that are affected by aircraft noise.

Finally, of particular concern for London residents is the problem of noise from night flights. It is disappointing that the consultation document does not contain information regarding the impact of the changes on noise contours at night and in the early morning. Considering the Government’s pledge set out in the 2003 Aviation White Paper to “bear down on aircraft noise at night”, it would be expected that a key consideration informing decisions on airspace changes would be to reduce the numbers of people affected by aircraft noise at night.

Air Quality
London Councils questions the basis on which the consultation document has claimed that the air quality impacts of the proposals will be ‘neutral’. It is not clear whether these proposals have considered the impact of any increase in the number of flights, or taken into account current emissions generated by other routes not being considered as part of this consultation.

London Councils believes that, in the interests of safety, as far as possible attempts must be made to route flights away from population centres. However, increasing the number of aircraft using airspace above London does bring a number of safety concerns. Setting aside the environmental, social and economic issues, events in New York and Washington and more recently the terrorist attacks in London in July 2006 must stimulate very careful thought about the risks of increased flying over the capital. The potential dangers were again illustrated by the incident in January where only the skill of the BA crew prevented an aircraft crash landing before it arrived at Heathrow airport. These issues bring into question any proposal to increase the number of aircraft using airspace over London and other densely populated areas.

London Councils would be happy to discuss any issues raised in this response

London City Airport - NOT Cleared of Toxic Air Issue

Despite the local fanzine report on London City Airport, and the airports own manic press release on their website of having received a clean bill of health for its air inside the terminal, it now appears that the fanzine and the airport, have been purposely misleading not only residents, but also passengers of the airport.

Just a few weeks ago, eastenders were treated a shower of spin from London City Airport via one or two of the local fanzines. We immediately questioned where the data and facts were to support the claims. And then Quelle Surprise! the biggest fanzine of all quoted

Well you can imagine our surprise (not) that when a local resident contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that they were told that the investigation into the alleged toxic air at London City Airport had not been completed. You can see the response from the HSE beneath.

So more spin and deceit by London City Airport and the local fanzine who continues to print the shopping list of the airport at the drop of an advert, or glass of wine. How unfortunate that they continue to rely on the information that the airport spoon feeds them, when , we uncover yet another act of deceit by them.
We believe that passengers of London City Airport have the right to know that the health and safety executive investigation into the toxic air inside the terminal has not been completed. Residents were denied the right to know that the airport failed to collect consistent noise and air readings for 8 years until they 'accidently' found out.

Just how much trust would you put in this deceitful and disingenous airport? You can only come to the conclusion that anything that the airport puts out isn't worth the paper its written on.

Response from the Health and Safety Executive:
From: http:///mc/compose?
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 9:09 AM
Subject: Air quality at London City Airport

Dear xxxx
Freedom of Information Request Reference No: xxxxxxxxx

Thank you for your request for information about:

Investigation into air quality at London City Airport for 2009

Your request was received on 26 August 2009 and I am dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

I can confirm that HSE holds information about this. However, it is currently under investigation and action arising from the investigation has not yet been completed.

The information is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 30(1)(b) of the Act (investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities).

Public Interest Test

The exemption relied on is a qualified exemption that is subject to the public interest test. This means HSE has to balance the public interest factors favouring disclosure against those favouring non-disclosure. In this case, I have considered the following factors in favour of disclosure:

· Promote transparency and build public confidence in HSE’s investigative process
· Secure the health and safety of employees and others

And the following factors in favour of non-disclosure:

· Impede an ongoing investigation by hampering the gathering of information and evidence
· Inhibit HSE’s ability to conduct further investigations effectively because, for example, third parties may be less willing to volunteer information to HSE if information is disclosed inappropriately
· Reduce the chances of a successful prosecution should the investigation conclude that this course of action is appropriate
· Unfair in cases where decisions may be taken not to proceed to prosecution

After careful consideration, I believe that the public interest in not disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing because of the adverse impact it would have on the ability of HSE to conduct investigations.

One consequence of the statutory time period for responding to requests contained in the Act is that HSE cannot allow your request to lie ‘on file’ until the investigation is completed. Can I therefore suggest that, if you still require the information, you make a further application in 2 month’s time.

All requests received following the completion of the investigation will be dealt with under the terms of the Act and any exemptions considered accordingly.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the decisions made by HSE in relation to your request you may ask for an internal review by contacting me.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Tel: 01625 545700
Fax: 01625 524510

Yours Sincerely

Ramani Abeyakoon
Freedom of Information Officer