Friday, December 31, 2010

Boris Goes After Royal Family but Not London City Airport for Policing Bill

FTF were fascinated to read an article in the Evening Standard today quoting the Mayor is to 'fight for the MET's £5million royal wedding bill'.

This does surprise us. Since Boris Johnson became Mayor he has not once showed the same concern about London taxpayers money in relation to London City Airport. Between 2004 and 2008 London City Airport cost London taxpayers £24million. This was for services provided to the airport by the Metropolitan Police.

The airport were asked by Len Duval (Greater London Authority member), when he was Chair of the Metropolitan Police Committee to contribute to some or meet all of the cost. Mr Duval quoted that the airport would not even discuss the matter. Therefore the airport continues to cost us London taxpayers millions each year as it refuses to pay ANYTHING TOWARDS IT'S SECURITY COSTS , essentially denying London Communities the services they pay for.

The Mayor of London may wish to provide his reasons for why he is going after the Royal Family for a one off £5million security bill for the Royal Wedding, but has failed to even raise the issue or seek the millions of pounds that London City Airport continue to dodge paying.

In view that the same report states that: 'The Met police is in financial dire straits, with a £30.4million cut in its Home Office grant this year having resulted in a freeze in officer recruitment and the loss of 955 posts' it is an absolute disgrace that the Mayor has continued to allow this free for all attitude for London City Airport security costs to continue.

HACAN: VAT goes up to 20%; Aviation still pays no VAT

HACAN today highlight the ridiculous special treatment that the aviation industry are given over and above families who are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult financial times:


Press release - HACAN

Campaigners claim it is ‘deeply unfair’ to the rest of British industry and hard-working families that the aviation industry continues to be a special case

Campaign groups are calling for VAT to be imposed on aviation. The call comes on the day when VAT has gone up to 20%. Currently aviation is zero-rated for VAT. The consumer pays no VAT on tickets, airline fuel is zero rated and no VAT is due on purchases of new aircraft. Indeed, because of the zero rating, the airlines are VAT registered and can reclaim VAT on goods and services (1).

John Stewart, who chairs the Heathrow campaign group, HACAN, and also the national umbrella body of aviation campaign organisations, AirportWatch, said, “It is deeply unfair to the rest of British industry and to hard-working families trying to pay their bills that the aviation industry continues to be a special case. It also makes no sense that one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries on the planet gets away with paying no VAT. Add this to the fact it pays no tax on its fuel and the Chancellor is losing at least £9 billion a year.”

At the end of last year, the European Commission began consulting on a revision of its VAT Directive (2). A revised Directive could include the possibility of VAT being imposed on aviation by member states of the European Union.


Notes for Editors:

(1) If aviation was exempt from VAT, it could not claim it back. The fact it is zero-rated means that it can.

(2) The consultation closes on closing date 31 May 2011

For further information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

Press Release dated: 31st December 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Study: aircraft noise disturbs people at lower levels than previously thought

Campaign group calls for flight path alternation to be extended to provide relief

HACAN, the campaign group which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, has called for action to be taken following a the publication of a new European Report which shows that people are disturbed by much lower levels of aircraft noise than previously thought.

The report from the European Environment Agency (1) indicates that over a million people are disturbed by aircraft noise from Heathrow, more than the three times the number admitted by the Department for Transport.

HACAN has published a short briefing, No Longer just a West London Problem, which shows how London is affected (2). The briefing was launched yesterday at a meeting in City Hall hosted by London Assembly member Val Shawcross.

HACAN Chair, John Stewart, said, “The new report from Europe backs up what our members have been telling us for years. Aircraft noise can be a serious problem for people living over 25 miles from Heathrow. In parts of East London it is made worse by the huge growth at London City Airport .”

HACAN is calling for the alternation of flight paths, which currently gives people in West London a break from the noise, to be extended to other areas of London and the Home Counties.


Notes for Editors:

(1). The 2010 European Good Practice Guide (

(2). Read Report Below

For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650

Press Release dated 17/12/10

No Longer Just A West London Problem

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

London City Airport Continues to Fail Local Residents

Or how the fat cats continue to use your tax money to avoid paying their own way and promote it as 'community work'.

London City Airport spend a lot of time on Public Relations.  They go into overdrive, but spectacularly continue to alienate the residents who suffer the most as they are rarely, if ever made contact with.

The airport is keen at putting out press releases on how many t shirts it has bought, or how many hampers it has given away, or the latest christmas card competition for schools in Newham and Tower Hamlets, or how they've sent someone to talk to schoolchildren about careers.  But the airport owes the community much, much more especially the residents. But it's the residents, and what they have to put up with, who are consistently ignored. 

The airport currently saves £7 million every year by refusing to contribute to it's security costs to the Metropolitan Police. It would perhaps be admirable if the airport would simply pay up, but as a consolation the airport could offer that money to the charities and schools it wishes to support, rather than expect London taxpayers to pay 100% of their security costs in the first place. This selfish, greedy action of London City Airport deprives the London public purse of huge amounts of money which would indeed be filtered back down into policing and education as it should be.

Instead the airport goes for the cheapest deal of all and donated around £36,000 to charities last year. Not to be sniffed at of course, but read on and you will see the bigger picture. Some of those thousands will be the donations given directly by residents and passed through the middleman of LCY from the Funday etc.  But for an airport that avoids paying £7m a year, it makes the donation look relatively small  in comparision and clearly the impact of not paying the £7m has a far greater impact on reducing services to you, the resident in your community.  Of course more public money from London tax payers was also poured into this private business owned by a bank and hedge funders GIP: the London Development Agency gave them a huge amount of grants to build additional aircraft stands and set up their LCY website! Can you believe it, they were actually given  taxpayers money to set up their website, how many small businesses would ever get that help?

The public relations are clearly welcome to those that are receiving the gifts and advice, however there is one huge flaw: London City Airport continue to fail to engage fully and openly with residents who suffer the most. Not only do they fail to engage, they have consistently failed to put any plan together to effectively improve residents quality of life as a result of the airports operations.  The draft noise action plan was a wonderful illustration of this - the airport felt at the time of drafting that nothing was bad, and there was no need for them to make any efforts to reduce or keep noise to the current levels - business as usual then! Those 1000s of individuals who make up East London, and who are the life and soul are invisible to London City Airport, they are the inconvenient truth, a reminder of the bad things that happen around airports, the pollution, the noise - all things that the airport prefers to ignore or deny.

Our argument is not that the airport are giving t shirts away or speaking to schoolchildren or donating money to charities, we think that is what any large corporate business who receives lots of public funding should indeed do: but  is about why they are not proactively looking for solutions to improve the environment and residents quality of lives in the areas affected. They are IGNORING residents suffering. 

It is a half baked PR strategy, a cynical one that completely ignores the ordinary resident of the streets, roads and closes that suffer intolerably from flights 7 days a week and if they have their way will simply get worse. It's always been the same at LCY, their communication with residents has been defensive, poor and of little help in providing accurate information. Residents have simply been left to pick up the pieces, year on year, and no better example was the one where residents were left to deal with the extra 20,000 flights the airport operated despite it being against the planning agreement. It translated into a noise nightmare that year and you know, they didn't care about residents, they, GIP were simply counting the dollars and pounds.

Ask yourself, what have LCY done to help you with noise and pollution from their operations? It's likely that a few of you have been told to keep your windows closed and have mechanical ventilation which is noisy,costly to run and leaves the room stifling, or they simply said they can't help you at all even though you live in the noise contour.

That, we are afraid, is the naked truth and no amount of PR trips to the local school are going to help the resident who has to put up with excessive noise and air pollution 7 days a week for almost every day of the year. Residents are simply left asking for help, and getting little or nothing in return whilst the MET are pretty much in the same boat with the airport, asking for their money but never getting it.

Perhaps it's time the airport put it's brave hat on,faced the residents and started looking at and working towards positive solutions to deal with the dirty noisy industry they want to make lots of money from at the expense of the local community. Residents have had no choice but to face up to reality, it's about time London City Airport did too.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Development of Future Airspace Strategy - It could affect you

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have released consultation documents regarding how airspace over your homes will be used in the future. It is possible that any changes proposed may have far reaching consequences for you and your area.

FTF will be submitting a response, which when completed will be posted online. However we would urge residents to ensure that their local councils are aware of the consultation and are submitting a response to the CAA themselves. 

The CAA consultation documents can be seen here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

New Government Funded Study Shows Significant Effect of London City Airport on Noise Levels

A government funded, pioneering new way to measure environmental noise has shown the excessive noise levels that London City Airport brings to the Royal Docks.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards, science and technology has just completed a case study on Greater London Authority owned land in Silvertown.

The case study, not solely focused on London City Airport but looking at all sources of noise in the area, involved using a new measurement based approach using multiple prototype noise sensors situated across the piece of land with a system called Dreamsys. The system has been proven to be accurate during the case studies and is expected to offer a more representative noise measuring method to work alongside predictive noise mapping currently used for environmental noise measuring. This system will also be financially more accessible and a unit is expected to cost no more than a high end mobile phone.

The data collected was used to create noise mapping and illuminating graphs indicating noise levels at particular locations on the site, and also consider different environmental noise factors. The noise data collected was then compared to the predictive noise maps (the technique already used, but felt widely to be insufficient in displaying the actual impact of noise on communities and fails to take into account accumulative noise effects). It was found that the new noise levels measured in the case study and compared to the predictive noise maps created by Hoare Lee were most similar at the nearest locations to the airport runway, however as you moved away the predictive noise maps became less accurate in representing the noise actually measured on the site. This can be seen here on the map points.

Of particular significance is the data collected during the volcanic ash flight ban last April. The MEMs DREAMSys units stationed on the Silvertown site measured a notable change in daily noise level - a 10dblaeq reduction. This translates as a 10db average reduction in noise levels.

NPL Dreamsys commented: "Lasting for just over 5 days for London airports, the grounding of flights was widely observed through the quieter skies and the absence of vapour trails, bringing discussion into the public domain on the usually unnoticed effects of air traffic".

This drop in noise level reflects measurement levels taken by FTF and local residents during the same period with the help of University College London's Mapping for Change enterprise and uploaded onto the Royal Docks Map. Richmond Council in West London also recorded a 10db drop in noise levels during the same period. Overall noise levels around London City Airport were also found to be comparable to levels under the flight path in Kew,West London based on a HACAN commissioned study carried out by Bureau Veritas.

The NPL Dreamsys data, is all available to view on user friendly maps which you can command to show you noise levels and the times of the noise here.

Dr Richard Barham, Principal Research Scientist in NPL's Acoustic Group commented:

"DREAMSys greatly expands the coverage offered by the measurement system in conventional equipment. It enables a large number of measurement points to be installed and used to continually monitor an area for months or even years. However, it is not intended that DREAMSys replaces prediction entirely. We hope that both approaches will complement each other, with the measurements being made in areas carefully selected on the basis that action plans would be significantly enhanced as a result. This shows the essential role that cutting edge measurement science can have in helping to meet specific challenges."

But overall the results of the NPL Dreamsys Silvertown case study offer many other illuminating facts from the real data collected:

1. London City Airport contributes excessive noise levels to East London and the peaks and troughs of each day perfectly reflect the times at which most residents express they are most disturbed by aircraft noise.

2. The issue of accumulative noise is raised - particularly road traffic and the DLR on the site. Not only did residents notice a huge decrease in aviation noise during the flight ban, but they also noticed a huge decrease in road traffic. London City Airport attracts huge amounts of road traffic with it's noise and air pollution, just under half of it's passengers arrive by private car or taxi. This makes a huge contribution to noise and pollution levels in Newham and the surrounding boroughs. FTF and HACAN have been actively lobbying for accumulative noise mapping.

Allowing airports to expand is not just about what happens within the terminal or on the runway - it has far reaching impacts across a very wide area. Accumulative noise impacts of aircraft with extra traffic, alongside pre-existing businesses should be always be part of any environmental consideration in planning. It suits aviation in general and London City Airport in particular to continue to ignore the impact of their business activities over the wider area, hence the keenness on the aviation industry on the current noise measurement methods they employ which fail miserably to represent what residents hear and what communities actually experience.

FTF welcomes the NPL's case study results at Silvertown and is excited at the prospect of Dreamsys being adopted more widely by local and central government but also the system being more affordable and accessible to many organisations and groups affected by excessive noise levels. Essentially, this system could offer government a better, more effective way to meet the EU noise directives, allow scrutiny and to promote better noise mitigation and management. It is a positive development and we hope it will be embraced. This should in turn influence planning decisions, and environmental and health impact studies as the effects of accumulative noise effects on communities has sadly been overlooked for too long. The cost of excessive noise levels on human health and develpment is something that needs to be looked at more closely, but an essential part of any such work needs to be supported by accurate and representative noise measurements to see localised cause and effect.  

More press coverage can be found here, here and here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

London City Airport Fairground ride-like buzz all tax free

This week we hear that landing at London City Airport is one on the most stunning airport approaches in the world "making for a fairground ride-like buzz". The Top 10 released by Private Fly is run by Adam Twidell who is an ex-RAF pilot and joined up with London City Airport to develop RAF Northolt for private jet use. Like London City Airport Private Jet centre, RAF Northolt security is fully paid for by us the taxpayer. London City Airports security alone is in excess of £5.5 million pa. The interesting fact about Private Fly's list is that London itself is the only major city over flown and London City Airport has the most densely populated surroundings. Flights pass over City Hall, London Eye, St Pauls and Canary Wharf to name but a few.

In light of the recent near miss over Hackney involving one of these private jets it is hard to believe that high profile, densely populated areas in a major city can be overflown while pilots get a "fairground ride-like buzz". The private jet centre at London City Airport directly contributed to the breaking of permitted flight allowances from the airport. Up to 15,000 private jets a year flew from the airport yet where not included in any ATM's (Air Traffic Movement)counts. They were just anomalies not included in any targets or totals yet residents got to breath the fumes and hear the noise from them. Plane Stupid highlighted this when they breached the LCY perimeter and locked themselves onto a private jet.

Meanwhile London City Airport are throwing around "economic impact assessment" figures with wild abandon and no proof. A report can be expected in 2011 showing how it benefits the economy to £500 million annually - the same as a large supermarket. The airport states that it contributes £21 million a year in air passenger duty. What they don't tell you is that the Private Jets pay no APD (Air Passenger Duty) at all - a loss to the economy of at our estimate of £1.5 million pa. Nor do they tell you they pay no VAT on the fuel they use. The only contribution these uber rich users make is to noise, air quality and climate change.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Human Cost of London City Airports Expansion

Over the past three years of the Fight the Flights campaign we have seen a steady increase in residents getting in contact with us. Over the past 18 months this has risen dramatically. What they all indicate is the problem of London City Airport (LCY) flight noise, and the accumulative effect of flight noise from both London City Airport and Heathrow, and how far the problem spreads out across East and South East London.  We appreciate that London City Airport doesn't like to hear this fact (they have the advantage of not having to listen, unlike most residents under their flight path) but they have contributed significantly to bringing West London noise levels to East and South East London.

We have also noticed that the emails from residents have steadily become more and more unhappy, for many at the realisation that they are not entitled to any noise insulation despite having been given that impression by comments made by London City Airport and the planning authority, Newham Council, in the past. Others have been massively affected by the change of flight paths by the Civil Aviation Authority. Newham has readily passed the buck on this, as do London City Airport on this issue. But if London City Airport flight paths had to be changed due to jets not being able to use the same departure routes as the old propellor planes, who asked to use the jets, and who approved their use, and the additional flights in the past?  Relevent points to consider.

Residents aren't buying the pass the buck scenario any longer as their private lives in their homes and communities have become increasingly invaded by the activities of London City Airport and of course also Heathrow. Bearing in mind that flights are currently down around 25,000 per annum on what they were 2 years ago, when Newham Council allowed London City Airport to breach it's flight limits by around 20,000, then you will appreciate that things are only going to get worse when flight numbers increase again.  This is why it is essential that residents continue to speak out, write/email their local councillors, MPs, MEPs, GLA member, Civil Aviation Authority, local papers and complain to Newham Council, the planning authority for London City Airport, by email or letter. We appreciate that this takes time, but it is the only way that politicians will understand the breadth of the problem and take steps towards assisting you.

Residents are always welcome to contact FTF for help and advice and we will always do our best to assist or put you in contact with someone who can help. Please be patient if we take time to respond though, which can occasionally happen due to our workload. What is important is that if you have only began to notice aircraft noise and are disturbed by it recently then you understand that you are not alone. It is not unreasonable and residents are certainly not a nuisance if they complain. It is your right to complain if you are being negatively effected and we believe it is your right to expect to be listened to and for your concerns to be acted upon.  There are 100,000s of residents who are experiencing the same right across London, you are most certainly not alone.  

We'd also ask you to consider donating to FTF using the paypal facility on the website. FTF runs financially on next to nothing, but we do need to pay for things such as website domain costs and the odd ream of paper. Donations however small are very much appreciated! You can donate on Paypal HERE

In the meantime we'd like to share just a few of the comments we've received from residents which we feel indicate the impact of the dreadful blight of newer but bigger noisier jets at London City airport, increased LCY flight numbers over the years, the flight path changes and in addition Heathrow flights. These are the hidden stories of lives blighted by an airport that got too big for it's own good and was allowed to runaway with expansion over the years:

"I have lived [by London City Airport] for 58 years and since the introduction of the new jets the noise is insufferable. In the inseption of the STOLPORT the airport installed double glazing to all properties front and back. But since the introduction of these new Jets the double glazing is not fit for purpose and the airport should upgrade to sound proof from the noise is there anything that you can do for the residents in [my road]". Resident of Newham.

"I live locally near Royal Victoria. I share your view against City Airport expansion and the flight noise. I have written to Newham council complaining about the noise but so far the response is not meaningful (mayor has not come back at of today). What i was told that they categorise the plane by its noise emission so they can have less jet planes compared to more propeller planes (i really don't think Newham council keeps any record of how many jet planes fly out of the city airport every day). You are doing a great job for the local community. Keep up the effort!!!!" Resident of Newham.

"I have lived in this borough [Newham] for nearly fifty years, I have seen a lot of changes but this one is the worse, I cannot sleep at nights in the morning five o'clock on the dot they start to go every seconds another all through the day one can't hear the television if one is on the phone, you cannot hear a word. I have spoken my landlord asking if they would install double glazing, they are too many planes, we need to do something about this annoyance." Resident of Newham.

"The noise pollution from flights in this area is unbearable. Every morning we are woken up by flights. We cannot go into the garden because airplanes are rattling overhead every 60 seconds. On the weekend relaxing at home is impossible because we sit with teeth on edge, waiting for the next jet to zoom overhead. I used to work from home but have been hounded out of the house by the noise and now have to go to local libraries or cafes to get some respite from the planes. So to recap: LCY stops us from being able to sleep. It stops us from being able to sit in our garden It stops us from being able to relax at home. And it stops me from being able to work at home. LCY stops us from being able to almost everything we should be able to do in our own home. Our choices? Spend £25,000 insulating the house (which we don't have). Or sell the house. Or have a miserable existence in our own home. To say that those are "choices" is nonsense." Resident of Tower Hamlets.

"I am still absolutely fed up with being disturbed by aircraft noise. I am woken up most mornings by aircraft noise at just after 06.00. From then on the flights are more or less continuous through the day- howling, roaring and whining. There are hundreds and hundreds of flights passing over my house every day. This is a relatively recent problem so there must have been a radical change in fight paths. WHY WAS THERE NO CONSULTATION?" Resident of Redbridge.

"When I moved to W Forest 10 years ago and to this address 5 yrs ago the only thing we heard was the ocassional vehicle and the birds! We thought we had found that peace until one day I think last year I was sitting in my back garden and heard several plane noises overhead. I really thought it unusual and it must be a one off. Then I notice it happened for a few more days and went on my computer to see if I could find any news about it.  I cannot believe that such an important change could be allowed without consulting with residents and have to think that this is because it affects poorer London boroughs in East London". Resident of Waltham Forest

"I live in Redbridge and although I appreciate that the noise I have to endure is minimal compared to those poor people living in the shadow of City Airport, it is really getting on my nerves, especially when low flying airplanes rumble through my double glazing after midnight! Oh.. there goes another one, as I'm typing". Resident of Redbridge

"In the last six months I have noticed inreased levels of air traffic in my area. Sometimes I can count three separate planes in the sky and the noise is becoming almost constant. I am very worried that additional flights will be granted into City Airport". Resident of Southwark 

"The volcanic ash crisis brought some relief from the noise, and reminded us all of how things used to be before they imposed this on us. Just this week the flights have been continuous after coming home from work, getting noisier and noisier which is almost unbearable". Resident of Havering.

"For several weeks now we have been noticing aircraft noise and believe it is an increase of flights going into City Airport. We live in Swanley  just on the edge of Dartford Borough. Obviously the noise here is not as bad as closer to the airport but does, I believe, show the extent of the problem. Before this year we have never noticed the planes, and have only noticed them more now, now that the weather is warmer and we have the windows and doors open. Additionally there are definitely more flights. If we sit in the garden at times we can hardly talk to each other".  Resident of Sevenoaks District Council

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fight The Flights Judicial Review: Day 1

Fight The Flights went to the High Court in London to challenge Newham Councils decision to allow a 50% increase in flights at London City Airport. Nathalie Lieven QC acting for our group stated that Newham Council had made a mistake by not considering the governments change in policy on climate change.

We had support at the Law Courts from Darren Johnson GLA member Green Party, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP Lib Dems and Murad Qureshi GLA member Labour.

The Judicial Review will resume at 10AM on Friday the 19th of November 2010.

Here's a round up the of the press coverage:

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TV:   at 12:51 minutes


BBC London:

LBC's news channel

Magic FM

Sky News Online

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FTF High Court Challenge - This Thursday

The hearing for the legal challenge against Newham Council in regard of the approval to allow London City Airport to expand to 120,000 flights per year is to take place this thursday:

18-19th November 2010, expected start time of the hearing  is 10.30am for 1,1/2 days.

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

The grounds of challenge are:

There are three aspects to Fight the Flights claim. In summary they are:

(1) that Newham failed to have regard to the Government’s policy on climate change and aviation;

(2) that Newham failed to consult relevant neighbouring local authorities; and

(3) Newham failed to consult the residents of those boroughs.

A copy of the legal grounds are available on request / or on our website at 

FTF Colleagues Listed in Top 1000 Most Influential Londoners

We would like to congratulate Jenny Bates, London Coordinator at Friends of the Earth and John Stewart of HACAN  who have both been listed in the Top 1000 influential people in London for the second year running.

Jenny and John have worked closely with FTF since it's formation and continue to do so today. They have inspired, supported and shared their wealth of knowledge. However their work with FTF is but a small part of their overall work with other individuals and groups.

Such recognition is well deserved for two such hard working and committed individuals.

John and Jenny will both be present at the FTF Judicial Review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, tomorrow (Thursday 18 November) , commencing at 10:30am.

Listings from the ES:

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth, London co-ordinator
Seasoned environmental campaigner has worked tirelessly to prevent expansion of City Airport. Less successful in opposing the Mayor's axing of the western congestion charge zone. She claims abolition of M4 bus lane at Heathrow will raise emissions.

John Stewart, Hacan Clearskies, campaigner
Long-serving leader of the main pressure group opposing Heathrow expansion, Stewart is building on the success of the foiled third runway by calling for a block on any further increase in plane flights into London. Has slammed the building of a high-speed rail line as a “white elephant”.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

HACAN PRESS RELEASE: Major Report Confirms Aircraft Noise Levels in East London can Match Those in West London

For immediate use

The controversial research published last week by campaign group Fight the Flights which showed that aircraft noise levels in parts of East London can match those in West London has been backed up by earlier research carried out by the respected firm of acousticians, Bureau Veritas.

The report, No Place to Hide, published in 2007, found that the combined noise of Heathrow and City aircraft over Poplar matched the noise in parts of West London. It recorded 84 planes flying over in a two hour period, 45 Heathrow and 26 City Airport. The noise level of the Heathrow aircraft ranged from 60 – 69 decibels and the City aircraft from 64 – 82 decibels.

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path and which commissioned the report, said, “Those sort of levels are higher than parts of West London. We can’t get away from the fact that aircraft noise has become a real problem in East London.”

Stewart was critical of City Airport’s reaction to the Fight the Flight’s findings, “the Airport cast doubt on the findings because they said they were not carried out in accordance with internationally-recognised methods of measuring aircraft noise or performed by independent professional acoustic consultants. Our report was and it came up with very similar results. Stephen Turner, the Director of Bureau Veritas is one of the country’s most respected acousticians. Indeed, his firm were the advisers to Newham Council when it approved plans for the expansion of the airport. The bosses of City Airport have to come to terms with the fact that they work in a very noisy industry and not hide behind fine-sounding words.”


For further information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650

Press Release dated: 9/11/10

Monday, November 08, 2010

Greenwich Council Fail to Hear Aircraft Noise, Whilst BACityflyer and LCY Celebrate the Noisiest Jets


Greenwich Council Fail to Hear Aircraft Noise

"It would be funny if it were not so serious. Greenwich Council are actually supporting expansion at London City Airport on the misleading premise that they believe jets to be quieter than propeller planes whilst the airport and British Airways celebrate the noisiest jets at the airport”.

Greenwich Council Planning Committee voted to support expansion at London City Airport on the basis that the airport introduce more jets to replace propellor planes in the belief that they are quieter and have less impact on the communities. But this is contradicted by work done by the Civil Aviation Authority. It shows that Jets at London City Airport are significantly noisier than propeller planes – in particular the new Embraer E series jets are considerably noisier than the old BAE RJ Avro 'whisper jets' that they are replacing (1).

Fight the Flights, the campaign group which is legally challenging the decision by Newham Council to approve the expansion of flights at the airport in the High Court in London next week (2), can reveal these figures as London City Airport and British Airways Cityflyer welcome with some fanfare the 700th E jet using the airport (3). 

The new jets have already impacted on community noise levels showing an increase in complaints being made to the airport as discussed in the London City Airport Consultative Committee Meetings (4). 

The noise difference between a propellor plane and an Embraer E series jet on take off/reverse thurst landing is an increase of 13dbs, this represents a 130% noise impact increase in real terms and is comparable to standing beside a road drill. The difference between an old jet and the new jets is 5dbs on a gliding approach which represents a 50% increase in noise impact in real terms. 

Anne-Marie Griffin, Chair of Fight the Flights commented: “It would be funny if it were not so serious. Greenwich Council are actually supporting expansion at London City Airport on the misleading premise that they believe the jets to be quieter than propeller planes whilst the airport and British Airways celebrate the noisiest jets at the airport. Surely if a borough is heavily overflown at just a few hundred feet on arrival and departures any council would wish to consider the noise impact above their borough not only the noise impact a mile away in another borough”. 

She added: “The Planning Officer either failed to understand the official statistics on the aircraft noise profiles and impact or was given incomplete information as the jets used are far noisier than the propeller planes. In a Freedom of Information request Greenwich Council revealed that their decision and understanding of the noise levels was based on stationary aircraft noise readings measured on the airports runway, approximately a mile away in London Borough of Newham. Greenwich has significant residential areas, including schools, covered by excessive noise levels”. 


Notes for Editors:

1. International Civil Aviation Organisation:official noise database:

Noise Level of 

Propellor plane: ATR-42 Model: ATR42-500 Engine:PW127M 80.7db on full power lateral, take off, reverse thrust landing.

Jet aircraft: Embraer 190 Model:ERJ190-100 Engine: CF34010R6A0-1 93.3db on full lateral, take off, reverse thrust landing 

2. The legal challenge is taking place at the Courts of Justice on the Strand on 18th and 19th November. FTF launched it, with the help of Friends of the Earth in September 2009 to the London Borough of Newham’s decision to grant approval to a 50% increase in flights at London City Airport. There are three aspects to Fight the Flights claim. In summary they are (1) that Newham failed to have regard to the Government’s policy on climate change and aviation; (2) that Newham failed to consult relevant neighbouring local authorities; and (3) Newham failed to consult the residents of those boroughs. A copy of the legal grounds are available on request/or on our website at FTF, founded in 2007, is a non party political residents group covering all areas affected by London City Airport operations. FTF works with not only the community and NGO‘s, but also lobbies decision makers.

3. London City Airport and British Airways Cityflyer celebrate the 700th E jet :

4. An increase in complaints regarding the new larger jets: Embraer E series, being used at London City Airport has been discussed at the London City Airport Consultative Committee, with complaints being raised by two local Newham Councillors:     Item 17E      
Item 6J 

Additional sources of information: 
The number of jets using City Airport has risen, jets from the airport are individually noisier than the propeller planes which have previously made up a greater proportion of flights.

London City Airport Air Transport Movements – % of Jets [as opposed to the propellor planes they are replacing], data provided by the Civil Aviation Authority:

1999     43 

2000    33 

2001     29 

2002     25 

2003    26 

2004    28 

2005    36 

2006    37 

2007    50 

2008    58 

2009    63 (Jan-Sept)

These residential noise readings in normal flight periods can also be contrasted to The World Health Organisation recommendation that noise levels should be less than 35db(a) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions and under 40db(a) outside of a bedroom overnight to prevent adverse health effects from night noise (4). 

For more information: 

FTF Spokesperson: 07984 300558 or

Press Release dated 08/11/10

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cost of giving Newham Council the 'wow factor'

We have a thought that you may wish to ponder as you read through this illuminating article from the BBC: Newham is keen to state that London City Airport has bought so much regeneration to the borough, jobs, money etc, it's often used as the excuse as to why the residents around it have to suffer intolerably. It's marketed as a bit of pay off in exchange for all that pollution. But why and how is it that Newham continues to be one of the most socially deprived boroughs in the country with all this wealth that is supposed to be generating from LCY and landing into Newham? Those trickle down economics just aren't trickling down to the right people. The facts are there, plain to see.


As seen on the BBC: Cost of giving Newham Council the 'wow factor'
By Ed Davey
BBC News, London

London's most expensive council-funded festival, offices with the "wow factor" costing £18.7m and an in-house newspaper costing more than £500,000 a year.

As local authorities digest a 26% funding cut, BBC London examines the outlay in one of the UK's most deprived boroughs.

One critic said the offices resembled a "five star hotel or West End nightclub"

With its reflective floor and designer bird's nest light fittings, Newham Council's new back office looks impressive.

Last week's spending review ushered in an age of austerity for local authorities, ordered to make 7.1% savings annually for four years.

But at Newham Council staff are celebrating winning a top award from the British Council for Offices.

Judges called it an "outstanding transformational workplace environment", saying the "innovative, lively and colourful design contributed to a dynamic environment".

Daniel Windor, of interior designers Sheppard Robson, who carried out the work, said: "You have to have the 'wow factor' in that environment. You need to give it a bit of sparkle or it will fall flat."

'Ultimate Champagne socialist'

But the £18.7m cost of the building and its decor is one of several spending projects highlighted by a BBC investigation.

The Local Government Minister Bob Neill criticised the figure saying it showed members of Newham Council were "living the ultimate Champagne socialist lifestyle on the taxpayer".

The BBC was told the lights came from a designer but has been unable to track down the cost

In response a council spokesman said the building was saving taxpayers in the borough £7m a year.

Newham, where all 60 councillors are Labour, is ranked as the UK's sixth most deprived borough.

The Council's own publicity describes it as one of the poorest boroughs in London.

"Poverty intensity in Newham is high," it says.

Central government funding for the authority this year stands at £224m, more than £100m above the median London council.

The grant is based on need and takes into account deprivation levels.

Only two London councils, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, received more per head.

Like many local authorities, the council produces its own newspaper.

This is published fortnightly and last year cost the taxpayer £547,000.


The figure is the highest in London and compares with an average cost of about £140,000.

The council also funds an annual festival, formerly called the Newham Town Show.

But after Newham opted for a directly elected mayor, Sir Robin Wales, it was rebranded the Mayor's Newham Show and spending on the festival increased.

This year's show, attracting 40,000 people, cost £362,000, the most expensive festival predominantly funded by a London council.

Newham, one of the UK's poorest areas, is the Olympic borough

The sum is higher than Westminster's West End Live show, which attracts more than 250,000 people.

Newham, the Olympic borough, has declined to confirm how much the show cost in the last year before it was rebranded.

Along with Croydon, the authority was one of only two London councils to award pay rises to three senior councillors in 2010, during a public sector pay freeze.

Sir Robin's remuneration increased from £78,844 to £81,029.

It has also emerged that departing chief executive Joe Duckworth - once the highest-paid town hall chief in England on £241,000 - may receive a pay-off.

Mr Neill accused Labour councillors of a "spending spree that would make a millionaire blush".

"This is more evidence that if you root out all the waste and wild overspend in local government you can protect frontline services," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Taxpayers' Alliance said some of the spending highlighted at the authority amounted to "needless extravagance".
'Modernist chic'

Of the offices, she added: "This glitzy refit is the sort of thing you might expect of a five star hotel or a West End nightclub, not the back offices of a local authority in one of the poorest boroughs of London.

"Any additional grants Newham receive should be spent on efforts to improve the area, not modernist chic for council officers."

But a Newham Council spokesman called the new office "an efficiency move that is saving taxpayers almost £7 million each year".

The council says 91% of people find its magazine "informative"

He added: "These savings are being realised by reducing the cost of office buildings and introducing better ways of working for staff, such as having all back office operations in one location.

"This move has helped to achieve the lowest council tax in outer London."

He said the festival played a "vital role in bringing the community together and ensuring cohesion" and spending on the Newham magazine resulted in a publication that 91% of people surveyed found "informative".

The spokesman said increasing councillors' salaries brought the mayor into line with a recommendation from an external panel.

"We are continually looking to ensure value for money for our residents and are working hard to make our finances stretch that bit further," he said.

Additional reporting by Sarah Halls.

Monday, November 01, 2010

New Research Reveals Sky-High Noise Levels from City Airport

PRESS RELEASE   01.11.10

"the levels of noise being measured across East London should send shock waves of concern to the heart of the government”

Research carried out by Fight the Flights (1) in alliance with University College London (UCL) and London 21's Mapping For Change (2) has shown that some residents living under London City Airport flight paths are experiencing noise levels much higher than many people under the Heathrow flight path in West London.  

Local residents were asked to record the noise of planes (3) overhead using hand held noise monitors on loan from UCL. They were also required to record their emotions in response to the noise. Some took photographs of the sources of noise. The residents were from a wide area of east and south east London. Some of them lived under the controversial new flight paths introduced last year by the Civil Aviation Authority (4).

Noise levels measured ranged from 87decibels to 35 decibels. 87 decibels is higher than a plane flying over Kew Gardens in West London and comparable to the noise of a food blender or lawnmower. The emotions described ranged from irritated to relaxing for the scale of the readings taken. Whilst noise data was being collected the volcanic ash cloud also halted all flights over the UK for a few days during April, giving residents a unique chance to compare a quiet no flight period with business as usual. During this time measured sound levels dropped dramatically with the majority of readings falling between 40-50dbs which is comparable to a refrigerator humming. Few noise events measured above 50dbs.

These residential noise readings in normal flight periods can also be contrasted to The World Health Organisation recommendation that noise levels should be less than 35db(a) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions and under 40db(a) outside of a bedroom overnight to prevent adverse health effects from night noise (4).

Fight the Flights Chair Anne-Marie Griffin commented “This project highlights just what noise levels residents are having to put up with under the flight paths in east and south east London, Fight The Flights plans to carry out a more extensive project in the future with UCL. It should not be forgotten that East London suffers a double whammy, of not only London City Airport Flights, but also Heathrow flights overhead adding to the misery.”

A Redbridge resident commented "This used to be a peaceful quiet area to live. The planes have single handedly changed that, and I am angry that I was not offered any opportunity to comment on either the expansion of London City Airport nor the change of the aircraft flight path, which has so compounded the existing problem of aircraft noise in my area over the last couple of years. Another resident said that '”I have been affected by more aircraft noise than ever before and I was surprised to discover that neither residents of Waltham Forest nor the council had been consulted by Newham Council on London City Airports application for the expansion of flights “. Another stated "the noise due to the increase in jets has increased, the no flight period allowed us the luxury to have windows open without having to close them due to excessive jet noise from London City Airport and Heathrow flights commencing from 4.30am over the borough of Greenwich".

Dr Muki Haklay of UCL commented:  “Mapping for Change was set up to support community action and citizen science. We are pleased to see the community’s use of the noise meters and the methodology of noise mapping that we have developed to record the level of ambient noise and their level of emotional stress that noise can cause. The mapping of the personal experience and the measured level of noise is useful in communicating the influence of urban noise on communities”.

Louise Francis of Mapping for Change stated: “Contrary to recently published online noise maps, which are created using computer-based models, the results collected by the community reflect actual ambient noise readings. The UK Government have been creating noise maps that show the predicted level of environmental noise from industries, airports, and road and rail networks in response to the EU’s environmental noise directive. The current exclusive system used to calculate various noise sources does nothing to look at cumulative ambient noise, that is the noise communities are actually exposed to”.

Fight the Flights is calling on the new coalition government to act on the unacceptable noise levels from current aircraft activities and to halt all further expansion plans at London City Airport and new airport developments in East London. Anne-Marie Griffin stated that "the levels of noise being measured  across East London should send shock waves of concern to the heart of the government. It isn't only about residents being disturbed, it's also about the effect on public health and the economic cost of that". Excessive noise levels have been shown to have a detrimental effect on human health and associated illnesses are already over represented in the Borough of Newham.

Fight the Flights is legally challenging the decision by Newham Council to approve the expansion of flights at the airport in the High Court in London on 18,19 November 2010.


Notes for Editors:

  1. FTF launched a legal challenge, with the help of Friends of the Earth in September 2009 to the London Borough of Newhams' decision to grant approval to a 50% increase in flights at London City Airport. There are three aspects to Fight the Flights claim. In summary they are (1) that Newham failed to have regard to the Government’s policy on climate change and aviation; (2) that Newham failed to consult relevant neighbouring local authorities; and (3) Newham failed to consult the residents of those boroughs. A copy of the legal grounds are available on request/or on our website at FTF, founded in 2007, is a non party political residents group covering all areas affected by London City Airport operations. FTF works with not only the community and NGO‘s, but also lobbies decision makers.

  2. This snap shot noise mapping project was in alliance with Dr Muki Haklay and Louise Francis of Mapping for Change, a social enterprise of University College London and London 21 Sustainability network.  Residents took readings for a minimum of 10 days – and up to 21 days of 3 readings, 3 times a day in: Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Greenwich, and Waltham Forest. The Royal Docks map may be seen here:

  3. The number of jets using City Airport has risen, jets from the airport are individually noisier than the propeller planes which have previously made up a greater proportion of flights.

London City Airport Air Transport Movements – % of Jets, data provided by the Civil Aviation Authority:

1999 43  

2000 33

2001 29

2002 25

2003 26

2004 28

2005 36

2006 37

2007 50

2008 58

2009 63 (Jan-Sept)

  1. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) signed off a new flight path for London City Airport in Spring 2009. This flight path previously had mostly traveled over the borough of Newham but now almost misses the borough completely as it has been moved further north. It now affects wider areas of Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Redbridge, some being newly affected.


The noise mapping slide and the noise comparison table will both be available on the FTF website in due course, or provided upon request.

For more information:

FTF Spokesperson: 07984 300558 or

Press Release dated 01/11/10

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aviation Crying over "APD" (Air Passenger Duty) without telling the whole story

Quote from Fight The Flights

"The reality is that aviation simply don't want to pay their way. They are happy to defend their corner consistently to reject paying the full cost of their activities and pass those costs onto those that fly, and those that don't fly. Those that fly pay APD, and in addition everyone else including the flyers ends up contributing around £400 a year in tax to the aviation industry benefit system in terms of government subsidies and tax breaks. Correct us if we're wrong! If passengers want to point the finger at anyone for their APD costs they should perhaps consider looking to the aviation industry itself!"

Quotes from John Stewart Chair of HACAN

"A lot of complaining from the aviation industry about the rise in Air Passenger Duty. They are misleading people. The aviation industry is not over-taxed. Even with the rise in APD it is still undertaxed. The Exchequer is losing around £10 billion because aviation fuel is tax-free and the industry pays no VAT. The income from APD is still well below half that figure."

"More on APD: Aviation says it pays for its emissions through the European Emissions Trading System. That is beginning to happen but that doesn't cover noise or community destruction. And it misses the point: APD is not an environmental tax. It was introduced by Kenneth Clarke in the early 1990s to help make up the shortfall in aviation's contribution to general taxation. That is still its purpose."

Quote from Plane Stupid

"Has any industry claimed to care more for their customers than the airlines? The past few weeks have seen pundits from any company with the slightest interest in aviation fronting up at the BBC's studios to defend hard working families from proposed rises in air passenger duty. Those rises are: a staggering £1 extra for short haul, £5 extra to fly a little further, £10 extra on a flight to Thailand or Brazil and a whopping... £15 on a flight to Singapore.

Now far be it from me to say that those rises hardly break the bank, or to accuse the airlines from being self-interested: I'm sure that their efforts to pay even less tax than they already do are motivated purely by altruism. After all, it's not like this is an industry which invented charges for bringing bags with you on holiday, or for paying with a credit card, or for not paying with a credit card, or for the fuel used in the plane, or to sit by the window... I could go on, but I'm sure you get my point.

The industry claims it already covers the cost of its environmental impact, so the 'hard working family holiday tax' doesn't need to go up anymore. This is one of the problems with monetising things like climate change: while you can work out the cost of a something tangible, assigning a figure to the range of outcomes from a human-induced temperature rise (which may or may not happen, depending on whether we stop climate change) is almost impossible.

This is all a bit complex. Firstly the cost of climate change is directly related to whether we manage to keep our emissions in check. If we do, then the cost of a tonne of carbon is quite low; if we fail then the cost is exorbitant. That's the problem: if carbon is cheap we'll keep emitting it but if it's expensive then we'll cut down, so whatever outcome we think will happen prices carbon emissions so that we actually get the opposite effect. Instead of assuming we'll stop climate change we should assume that we won't and price emissions accordingly; this would make the cost of CO2 high enough that we'd have an incentive to change our behaviour and thus avert disaster.

It's not like air passenger duty is spent tackling the problem; like most taxes it disappears into the black morass of Government spending. No matter what it says, the industry is not paying for the damage it causes: it's not like Michael O'Leary will turn up in Gloucester to pay for the flood damage, or Willie Walsh will help Africa cope with drought caused by second home owners topping up their tans too frequently.

Luckily this whole economic credit crunch means that taxes on flights will keep rising so we can bail out more and more bankers, so the industry won't get its way no matter how many minor celebs it wheels out in support. On second thoughts, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. God, the intricacies of fiscal policy are more complicated than I first though..."