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.