Southend Airport agreement is a scandal say Lib Dems
by Geoff Percical
THE new deal between Southend Airport and local councils on the number of night flights and other operational
details fails to answer many concerns, according to an opposition councillor.
Graham Longley, Lib Dem leader on Southend Council, has complained the new measures agreed with the ruling Conservatives on Southend and Rochford District councils did not involve his or other political parties.
He says although they are aimed at soothing concerns among local people about
the planned runway extension, they do not go far enough and fail to answer many
Mr Longley said: "The document fails to answer questions of road congestion and
traffic management, the way in which Eastwoodbury Lane will be dealt with, environmental
concerns and the greenhouse gas position.
All change – night flights will now try to land at Southend Airport by flying
over the rail line, at the bottom of the picture, to cut noise levels in Leigh
"I fail to the see how the Tories can claim to have ‘listened to residents concerns’
when the results of the joint area action plan consultation have yet to be published.
"It is quite scandalous and undemocratic to pre-empt a possible public inquiry
and try to steamroller the residents into agreeing with the proposals without
having looked at the ramifications which will greatly affect them."
RESTRICTION ON NIGHT FLIGHTS REVEALED
TOUGH restrictions on noise and night flights from Southend Airport have been agreed to save the controversial expansion plans.
They are among the toughest on any airport in the country that operates 24 hours
Operator Eddie Stobart’s plans for the expansion, which would include extending
the runway across Eastwoodbury Lane, were revealed in September last year.
However, there was a massive political backlash against the proposals, particularly
from people living in Eastwood and Leigh, who feared noisy night flights would disrupt their lives.
To combat the growing unrest, a joint deal setting out stringent restrictions
has been struck between Southend Council, Rochford and operator Eddie Stobart.
Controls on night flying, noise levels and air quality have been agreed.
Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft said: "We have been listening to what people have had to say about the airport
and their concerns. We are taking action on areas which were particularly highlighted
as causing the most concern to our residents.
"The airport is vital to our economy.
"If we get things right, then we can be in the best place to take advantage of
the global economic recovery."
A planning application to extend the runway at the airport is expected to be
submitted next week and Southend Council employed expert consultants W S Atkins
to study restrictions elsewhere and come up with an acceptable plan.
Under the current lease there is no restrictions on the number of flights coming
in and out of the airport during the day and there can be up to 900 flights a
month at night.
Mr Holdcroft added: "We have to realise without these conditions, which are very
tough, the airport could continue as it is now without restrictions and it could
become a great deal worse."
Terry Cutmore, leader of Rochford District Council, said the airport was a major
asset to the area and its long-term future was important.
Mr Cutmore said the concerns of residents was important and the new controls
should address the issues which had been raised.
He added: "I am pleased to say with Southend Council we have been able to negotiate
measures which should allow the airport to go forward, but within a framework
of appropriate controls which currently do not exist."
Alastair Welch, airport managing director, said: "I do not know of any other 24-hour airport
in the country where there will be such tight controls.
"I am pleased we have been able to reach an agreement.
"We believe it is right to update the airport’s environmental control measures
to ensure if an extended runway is brought into use, we can ensure the night flights
are very tightly controlled, cargo volumes are limited and new controls are brought
into place to minimise the impact over Southend in particular.
"The proposed controls, are certainly going to be challenging for us.
"We recognise the need to listen to people’s concerns and act to address these.
"With these proposed control measures, we believe we have been able to do this."
Basically it’s a bunch of meaningless concessions by the airport. Meaningless
the limits are still way higher than their current usage and there is no evidence
yet that there would be anything to stop them going back to the Council and asking
for an increase if things did get busy.
There was a quote from Alastair Welch in the piece where he talks about how
he regards them as some of the strictest controls of any 24 hour airport – which
is simply not the case. Southampton has much tighter restrictions in that they’re
allowed 10 night flights a month. If they can get any night flights at all,
they can call themselves a “24 hour” airport.
The main points are:
– 90% less night flights- restricted to 120 per month.(11:00pm–6:30am)
– A cap of 53300 flights per annum. Only 10% of which are to be cargo max!
– Where possible, Take off and landings on runway 24 from/to the west to minimise
disruption to Leigh etc.
– The airport will have to pay for double glazing
– The airport will have to buy your house if you want to sell (a netural evaluation
will be made)
– Engine running will be limited to 8:00am–8:00pm for all types Mon- Sat &
– Noise limits placed on all aircraft to to exceed set limits
The 53,330 flights will not include Light Aircraft, Emergency Flights, Military
Flights, Govenment Flights, Police or Air Ambulance flights.