Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some Facts Regarding London City Airport Expansion Plans

1. The numbers of people living under flight paths are higher than ever before, and it's happening all over the UK. The planned increase in the number of flights at London City Airport from 76,000 to 120,000 with more plans for an increase over the next decade will bring in larger nosier planes, create new and larger flight paths and negatively affect 1,000’s more. In London and the South East over a million people now live under a flight path.

2. Even though the aviation industry claim that individual aircraft types are getting quieter the growth in the number of aircraft has off-set any improvement in the noise climate for people under the flight path. Remember London City Airport is built in the most densely populated area in the UK.

3. For each of the next 20 years flight numbers across the UK are predicted to rise between 4% and 6%. The Government expects this will require up to 5 new runways, plus full use of the existing runways at most of the country’s airports.

4. The Aviation Industries contribution to climate change is increasing. World-wide aviation is currently responsible for 3% of the emissions that contribute to climate change but between 6% and 13% in the UK. Aviation is the fast-growing contributor to CO2 emissions in the UK.

5. Current Aircraft activities harm people's health. The body of evidence is growing. Many reports from the USA claim there are higher levels of cancer around airports. Many people under flight paths near airports suffer higher levels of annoyance and stress and, whenever there are late or night flying, sleep deprivation is increased.

6. Noise harms children's education. There are a number of studies carried out around airports, which show that "aircraft noise" can adversely affect our children's education. London City Airport is built 200m from a school in Newham.

7. Aviation's contribution to the economy is overstated. It is not nearly as important to the country's economy as the industry claims. It is only the 26th biggest industry in Britain, half the size of the computer industry, and just a tenth the size of banking and finance.

8. The aviation industry is heavily subsidised. The subsidy comes in a number of forms: the industry doesn't pay the costs of the noise and pollution it causes; it pays no tax on aviation fuel; and it is zero-rated for VAT. London City Airport’s policing bill is paid for by the Tax payer at a cost of up to £5.5 million a year. Therefore the cost to the taxpayer of creating a job in aviation is much higher than in a less heavily subsidised industry.

9. Aviation runs up a deficit on tourism. Air tourism results in a deficit of around £17 billion pounds each year. This is because the amount of money spent abroad by Britons flying out of the UK for leisure and holiday trips exceeds the amount visitors into Britain spend here. London City Airport claims it's a business airport, but it will be flying to Ibiza and Majorca during the summer months.

10. London City Airport Fight The Flights is not opposed to aviation, but it does aim to give a voice to people under the London City Airport flight paths. We campaign alongside national, regional and local pressure groups and lobby local and national politicians and government for an approach to aviation that acknowledges those who suffer because of the growth of Airports in populated areas. Such as London City Airport

Thursday, July 15, 2010

£240,000 Newham boss quits in shock departure

After FTF reported that the Chief Executive of Newham stated: 'As far as I am aware, there is no substantive challenge" when being asked about London City Airport expansion by Waltham Forest Council more news hits the headlines:

As reported in the Evening Standard:


Britain's highest-paid town hall chief executive quit his £240,000-a-year job at Newham council suddenly today.

Joe Duckworth will leave the borough - one of the poorest in the country - after only two years. He was going on a family holiday before taking his career "in a new direction". The council would only say Mr Duckworth would be "moving on", and would not comment on speculation he was pushed.

His departure leaves the Olympic borough searching for a new chief just two years ahead of the Games.

Mr Duckworth was awarded the record salary when he was hired to head the council in one of Britain's most deprived areas. The figure did not include pension contributions, bonus payments or expenses.

The pay packet infuriated opposition councillors in Newham, which has 5,000 people in temporary accommodation, the highest proportion of overcrowded housing in Britain, and high levels of child poverty.

Mr Duckworth said: "The past two years have seen a step-change in the delivery of services. I have enjoyed my time but after two hectic years I have decided to take my career in a new direction and to seek new challenges."

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: "Joe has brought great energy to the council and I am delighted that together we have improved so much for residents. Newham wishes him the very best for the future."

Before arriving in Newham, Mr Duckworth ran the Isle of Wight, where he angered locals by leaving the £150,000-a-year post after two years. He promised to transform the island's fortunes, but the council was only awarded a two-star rating, meaning services met only the most basic standards.

One readers comment:

Quote: Britain's highest-paid town hall chief executive quit his £240,000-a-year job at Newham council 

Joe Duckworth will leave the borough - one of the poorest in the country.

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

- mickinlondon, london, 15/07/2010 15:27

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jet vs Propellor: Greenwich Council's Failure

As we've documented before Greenwich Council are the only neighbouring council who continue to blindly support London City Airport expansion. However as we revealed some time ago, their support is based on absurd data and a report of errors by the planning officer which clearly showed that he had little or no understanding of the environmental impact of aircraft noise on the residential areas that Greenwich allow to continue to be built beneath the flight paths. Greenwich Council appear to have based their decision to support on noise data taken from STATIONARY ACTIVITIES ON THE LCY RUNWAY, EVEN THOUGH THE RUNWAY IS NOT IN THE BOROUGH OF GREENWICH! But let's just explain the background a little more:

Two years ago local councillor for Thamesmead Moorings and deputy head of the council Cllr Peter Brooks, assured a local resident that if they could provide the evidence that his officer had advised them incorrectly that he would get the issue sent back to the planning committee. The evidence was provided but a few weeks later the resident received a letter saying that the complaint was going to be forwarded to Newham Council to be dealt with. Once again, Greenwich Council were not willing to face the facts nor take responsiblity for their officer making a huge error in their planning report and recommendations to the planning committee.

The Greenwich Planning officer recommended to support the expansion of LCY. On looking through his report, it seemed apparent that not all of the information had been available to Greenwich, or that it had not been fully grasped by the officer as we found some serious errors/understanding in his report. The officer clearly believed, and continues to, as does the council on his advice: that propellor planes are noisier than jets. How silly is that!!

The LCY annual categorisation report, indicating that props are quieter than jets, has been forwarded to Greenwich on more than one occasion and yet with no response which addresses the error of the officer and how this clearly would have skewed the premise of his recommendations to the planning committee. From independent noise monitoring in Greenwich a jet from LCY is a minimum of around 10 dbs louder than a prop when it flies overhead. Most props are around 72-76 dbs as they pass, most jets are around 84 dbs and upwards.

Greenwich Council have continued to run with the line pushing London City Airport to replace all props with jets as is in their response to the LCY noise action plan. But this is the worst thing, as we know, and is rather embarrassing for Greenwich Council. The growth of the use in jets at LCY is already creating further noise disturbance than in the past, and yet Greenwich Council are saying 'we want more jets'.

We could not understand what had led the Greenwich officer come to such a conclusion and so an FOI was submitted to them. The response showed that the Greenwich Officer based his assumptions and recommendations on ground noise data on the runway itself!

This is quite extraordinary. It is not clear which document that Greenwich extracted this information from, and whether or not it was the most recent application. But the use of this data makes no sense at all - as the runway is not even in Greenwich, and the noise heard in Greenwich is not only noise from on the runway, but largely noise from the jets as they fly over on their low level flight path!

In a further FOI request and response, Steve Pallet from Greenwich Councils' Planning Department stated that almost 5000 properties in West Thamesmead would be covered by an expanded noise contour, inclusive of the 2000 additional dwellings that have been given outline planning permission to be built at Tilfenland's Tamesis Point , which is partially in the Public Safety (crash) Zone but which the landowners claim "promotes real quality of life"!. This is a huge increase on the current dwellings affected and you would have thought that Greenwich would have considered why, if jets are supposed to be quieter, that the contour was even growing to that extent with the proposed expansion. It just makes no sense at all, even from a laypersons point of view. Greenwich clearly were not aware that the increase in jets over props had already increased rapidly at the time of their decision. What did they think was making the noise contour grow?

Greenwich seemed to be under the impression that noise monitoring should continue as it had by LCY (they appeared to have no idea that no reliable readings had taken place by the airport for around 8 years) and that all the data they had been provided with was based on estimates.

Greenwich Planning board supported the expansion, we believe 1 vote tipped this, and it is arguable that if the accurate facts were presented, that the board had been alerted to the possible environmental and health impacts, and that no health impact study had been carried out in Greenwich, that the planning board outcome would have been very different.

Furthermore, in regards to the Noise Action Plan consultation run by LCY and Greenwich's response to it: You will note that Greenwich still continue to push for more jets to replace props as they believe this will be quieter! This offers no prospect to the homes in the noise contour having noise levels halted, nor reduced at all.

No health impact study was carried out for Greenwich, despite it being the only borough with homes in the public safety zone (crash zone) and the Greenwich PCT have confirmed in an FOI request that they were NOT consulted on this issue. This seems peculiar, particularly as there are such severe respiratory and cardiovascular health issues in the area. The mortality data by ward in Greenwich, received from the PCT, for Thamesmead Moorings (the ward nearest to the airport in Greenwich) shows that actual cardiovascular mortality is well beyond the expected baselines for men and women. This corresponds with the evidence on links between cardiovascular disease and excessive noise/pollution around airports.

We do not believe that any environmental impact study was carried out specifically upon Greenwich, though this may have been missed.

So, what next for Greenwich? They are in an increasingly embarrassing position whilst there is growing political focus on the impact of LCY expansion than ever before and the upcoming judicial review challenging the increase of flights. This is in addition to the boroughs around Newham all noticing an increase in noise from the increased use of jets, who have been more than vocal about this: how on earth does this bypass Greenwich Council? Ear defenders are perhaps given out to the planning committee?

Woudn't it be nice, and terribly democratic, if the leader of Greenwich Council, Cllr Chris Roberts finally did the right thing and got this issue fully reviewed within Greenwich? Perhaps they might consider getting some professional advice next time, rather than the seemingly amateur assessment that was made and passed as a recommendation to the planning committee. They might want to consider why their officer felt that it was appropriate to use stationary noise taken from the airport in Newham rather than look at the estimated projected noise contours that were to widely expand over Greenwich, and Tamesis Point. Those 120,000 flights have to fly over Greenwich, they don't simply land vertically onto the runway.

All documents referred to in this blog item are available upon request.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

End Domestic Flights Now!

Campaign against Climate Change www.campaigncc.org

Demonstrations in London and Manchester ,
Saturday 4th September

11.00 am Demonstration outside City Airport , London .
(take the DLR at Bank to get to the ‘ London City Airport ’ stop on the Woolwich line) Support the local London City Airport anti expansion group “Fight the Flights” www.fighttheflights.com

12.30 “Train not plane” party board the big red (open top double decker) ‘end domestic flights’ bus which takes the message through the streets of London to Euston station.

1.40 pm "Train-not-plane" brigade boards the Manchester train at Euston.

3.49 pm “Train not plane” party arrives at Manchester Piccadilly station

4.30 pm Demonstration at Manchester Airport

For more info contact info@stopmanchesterairport.org.uk
Find out about SEMA, the “Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport ” group at www.stopmanchesterairport.org.uk

Evening - Party, party, party for aviation activists at Hasty Lane near Manchester airport - in a street threatened by airport expansion. Accomodation will be organised for those staying overnight.

Join us on the special "train-not plane" carriage on the 1:40 train! Cost is £11.50 
Make it a full fun day of aviation activism! (return from Manchester Saturday night or party in Manchester and return Sunday morning) Book a ticket by clicking here. Cost is £11.50 for a seat on the carriage, first come, first served for available seats. ( Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester airport is £3.30 return Return to London by train is £11.50 if booked well enough in advance, or around £5.50 by Megabus. )

Put this date in your diary now! This will be the time to take the agenda forward on aviation, and insist that at this time of climate emergency we cannot afford to be using high-emission forms of transport where viable alternatives exist. And that aviation will need to bear the burden of emissions reductions along with other sectors.

More info as it becomes available www.campaigncc.org/aviation

If you would like to join Fight the Flights either on the demo and/or on the train to Manchester please do let us know: fighttheflights@yahoo.co.uk

Friday, July 02, 2010

CEO of Newham Tells Waltham Forest 'As far as I am aware, there is no substantive challenge"

"I can assure you that the noise and other impacts of the proposed increase in flights to/from LCA were fully assessed and considered by Newham's officers and considered by Newham's Officers and members with the assistance of consultants, and there has been, so far as I am aware, no challenge to the substantive conclusions of that process" Quote from Joe Duckworth, CE of Newham Council, 8 April 2010 in a response to Waltham Forest Councils CE, Andrew Kilburn.


Fight the Flights launched a legal challenge against Newham Councils decision to allow a 50% expansion of flights from London City Airport, in October FTF were granted a protective costs order by the High Court to challenge the decision, in January the High Court granted permission for the FTF to take their legal challenge to the High Court on all 3 limbs:

(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.

The legal challenge goes to the High Court in London on the 18th & 19th of November 2010

Britain Curbing Airport Growth to Aid Climate

From The New York Times

In a bold if lonely environmental stand, Britain’s coalition government has set out to curb the growth of what has been called “binge flying” by refusing to build new runways around London to accommodate more planes.

Citing the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, abruptly canceled longstanding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in May, just days after his election; he said he would also refuse to approve new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, London’s second-string airports.

The government decided that enabling more flying was incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions. Britons have become accustomed to easy, frequent flying — jetting off to weekend homes in Spain and bachelor parties in Prague — as England has become a hub for low-cost airlines. The country’s 2008 Climate Change Act requires it to reduce emissions by at least 34 percent by 2020 from levels reached in 1990.

“The emissions were a significant factor” in the decision to cancel the runway-building plans, Teresa Villiers, Britain’s minister of state for transport, said in an interview. “The 220,000 or so flights that might well come with a third runway would make it difficult to meet the targets we’d set for ourselves.” She said that local environmental concerns like noise and pollution around Heathrow also weighed into the decision.

Britain is bucking a global trend. Across North America, Asia and Europe, cities are building new runways or expanding terminals to handle projected growth in air travel and air freight in the hope of remaining competitive.

That growth in traffic has been damped but not halted by hard economic times, and in the current global recession, business concerns have generally prevailed over worries aboutclimate change. In the United States, Chicago-O’Hare, Seattle-Tacoma and Washington-Dulles all opened new runways in 2008.

On Tuesday, Kennedy International Airport in New York reopened its Bay Runway — one of four, and the airport’s longest — after a four-month, $376 million renovation that included the creation of two new taxiways to speed plane movements between runways and terminals.

Airport expansion plans have sometimes been modified or canceled because of concerns about noise or ground-level pollution. But Peder Jensen, a transportation specialist at theEuropean Environment Agency in Copenhagen, said that as far as he knew, Britain “is the only country that had made a conscious decision based on climate considerations.”

Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports and a major connection point for destinations in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East, is already notorious for its flight delays and endless lines. It is the only airport of its size with just two runways; Paris-Charles de Gaulle has four and O’Hare has seven.

So even though the Conservative Party had been expressing growing reservations about the planned expansion since 2008, many businessmen were shocked when Mr. Cameron canceled the plan after coming to power in a coalition with Liberal Democrats.

“This is a new government that claimed to be business friendly, but their first move was to eliminate one of the best growth opportunities for London and the U.K. and British companies,” said Steve Lott, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association. “We’ve run into a shortsighted political decision that will have terrible economic consequences.”

The British government counters that the economic effects of scrapping the third runway are “unclear” while the environmental costs of adding one are unacceptably high. Ms. Villiers said that a high-speed rail network intended to replace short-haul flights would be a better way to address the airport’s congestion than adding a runway.

“We recognized that just putting more flights and more passengers into the skies over southeast England wasn’t worth the environmental costs we’re paying,” she said. “We decided to make Heathrow better rather than bigger.”

Although it is often said that emissions from air travel account for 2 to 3 percent of global emissions, the proportion is higher in many developed countries: emissions from aviation are growing faster there than those from nearly any other sector.

The British government has calculated that aviation emissions accounted for just 6 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2006. But it concluded in a report that aviation could contribute up to a quarter of those emissions by 2030.

In the United States, the number of general aviation hours is forecast to grow an average of 1.8 percent a year, and to be 60 percent greater by 2025 than it is now, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. While airlines have worked hard to improve airplane efficiency, those efforts are dwarfed by the upward trend in flying.

Citizens’ groups in communities near Heathrow fought hard for nearly a decade against the airport’s runway expansion, complaining about noise and nitrous oxide pollution. As climate change became a more potent political issue in Britain several years ago, environmental groups with broader concerns jumped into the fray, camping out at Heathrow and occupying runways at smaller airports, shutting them down for hours.

“If you were a politician, how you felt about the third runway became a test of your commitment to dealing with climate change,” said Ben Stewart, communications director for Greenpeace U.K.

The temptation to expand airports is great for cities in search of new business and tourism. Airports in Europe are now mostly run by private companies, and for them, the more traffic, the more profit.

Some critics say the British government’s principled stand is pointless because airlines and travelers will respond not by forgoing air travel but by flying through a different airport. Instead of emissions being reduced, the critics say, they will simply be transferred to places like Barajas Airport in Madrid or Frankfurt International Airport, which have recently been expanded.

“My personal opinion is that the decision concerning Heathrow’s third runway was highly politicized and outpaced the science of what that runway might or might not do in terms of emissions,” said Christopher Oswald, a vice president of Airports Council International, an industry group. He suggested that a third runway might actually reduce emissions above Heathrow, because with less congestion, planes would spend less time idling on runways or circling in holding patterns.

But Dr. Jensen of the European Environment Agency said that building roads or runways generated more traffic in the long term because greater convenience draws people to a route.

Leo Murray, a spokesman for Plane Stupid, an environmental group that has fought new runways, called the British government’s decision “a turning point for aviation” although he added, “It is uncomfortable to have the coup de grace delivered by the Conservative government.”