Friday, January 28, 2011

Thamesmead will suffer after London City Airport expansion

Thousands of residents will suffer an extra 40,000 planes flying overhead every year after the High Court upheld a decision for the expansion of City Airport.

Campaigners in Thamesmead, which is directly under the flightpath to the airport in London Docklands, say it will mean a huge increase in noise and pollution now the plans have been given the go-ahead.

Pressure group Fight the Flights lost its judicial review against Newham council’s decision to approve the expansion plans. Now the group’s director, Anne Marie Griffin, of Melbury Road, Thamesmead, said it is considering appealing again.

She said: “This will increase flights to 120,000 per year from the current 80,000. It means noise will double. There are now 35 homes in West Thamesmead which are in the airport’s crash zone, meaning that if nothing was there already, it would not be allowed to be built for public safety reasons.

“A lot of people in this area do not have the option of moving as it is not an affluent area and a lot are in social housing or have just got on to the property ladder. They are stuck. It is going to be terrible.

“We are looking at having a flight overhead every 90 seconds. The numbers of jumbo jets from the airport is increasing so the noise is already getting worse.”

The campaigner, who set up the protest group with her husband Barry Griffin, said properties could also be damaged by the vibrations from the vortex left after the plane crosses the Thames, which is similar to a tornado.

Another resident Charles Saxby, of Hazlitt Court, Thamesmead, said that he is often woken from the sounds of planes to and from the airport.

He said: “Newham council without consultation have given the OK to an increase in flights to and from City Airport. I can see myself running around in the middle of the night with my handheld extinguisher pulling people out of a plane that has crashed on its way to City Airport. I hear planes from City airport well before they are overhead.”

The decision by the High Court last Thursday comes a week after London Mayor Boris Johnson renewed his call for a £40billion airport to be built in the Thames Estuary, an idea he first aired in 2008.

A report published last Tuesday and overseen by Transport for London deputy chairman Daniel Moylan said the UK economy would suffer and London would lose jobs to its European competitors unless a new airport was built in the South East.

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce said the High Court’s decision was not good news for Thamesmead’s residents, adding: “Their lives are already blighted by living under the flight path of City Airport. My concern is that any increase in flights would lead to increased noise and pollution. Also it does not seem right to me that a decision has been made by one authority who may benefit from that decision without due consultation with the residents of representatives of Thamesmead, who are the people who have to live with the noise, pollution and risk of having low flying aircraft above their heads day after day.”

A spokesperson for the airport refused to comment on how the expansion would affect Thamesmead residents but did provide the following statement: “We are delighted with the decision to uphold the planning approval granted by the London Borough of Newham in July 2009 to increase the annual number of flight movements at London City Airport to 120,000.

“This is great news for London City Airport and Newham and will allow us, and our partner airlines, to continue our key role in supporting the local, regional and national economies and providing new local employment and training opportunities. The decision also enables us to continue supporting the much needed regeneration and investment which London City Airport has helped bring to east London over the past 23 years.”