City Airport Expansion Oppostion Lines Up for Parliamentary Adjournment Debate


15.12.2009   (SW-Essex Fight the Flights press release)

Redbridge and Waltham Forest were joined on Wednesday 9th December by neighbouring
Tower Hamlets, becoming the latest London Borough Council to come out against
the expansion of City Airport by unanimously agreeing a forthright resolution.

The decision comes just days after local MP’s James Brokenshire (Hornchurch)
and Lee Scott (Ilford North) both re-affirmed their opposition.

Mr. Brokenshire successfully obtained today’s adjournment debate (see details below)    and tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions concerning the scandulously
undemocratic decision of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), recently discovered
to have re-directed LCA flight-paths over parts of Havering and Redbridge from
7th May 2009.     An edict which will not be reviewed for a year.

Reacting to that news, FTF SW-Essex Coordinator and local resident, Steve Pullum

The flights now come right over my house and I’ve never even been given the opportunity
to influence the decision or comment. CAA have forced through the changes by dictat
and local residents are suffering the noise and environmental consequencies”.
“I would urge local people and Havering Council to follow Redbridge’s lead and
respond to the Airport’s Noise Review and also challenge the CAA”
. Mr Pullum continued: "They’ve ignored both the views of local people and the science of climate change.
The fact is that we need to stop airport expansion if we’re to have any hope of
reducing CO2 emissions in this country

Late last year Newham Council gave City Airport permission to increase the number
of flights using the airport by 50%. That decision, however, is being challenged
in the courts by Judicial Review by local coalition campaign group, Fight the

Notes for Editors:

1. The Newham Council approved, original planning application by London City
Airport was to increase the number of flights from 76,000 flights to 120,000 p.a.
is the subject of the Judicial Review.

2. The decision was made despite the fact that the initial application did not
contain accurate data on noise going back nearly a decade, in breach of planning

3. LCA has now drafted its noise action plan in response to a directive published by the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). That directive requires airport operators to prepare
draft noise action plans designed to manage noise issues arising from aircraft
departing from and arriving at airports.

4. Upon conclusion of the public consultation, LCA will collate and consider
all responses to the noise action plan.
5. Consultation responses can be submitted electronically by emailing for information, or, by accessing Alternatively postal responses go to: Kellie Heath, London City Airport, City
Aviation HouseRoyal Docks, London E16 2PB.

6. The consultation deadline is 15th January 2010.

7. Fight The Flights


James Brokenshire (MP for Hornchurch – in Essex, an area overflown by planes from London City Airport) 
secured an adjournment debate in the Houses of Parliament  on

London City  

on 15th. Below is the first part of the text of the debate, which can be found
He is concerned about the changes to flight paths that were recently made by
NATS, even though the rest of the changes they proposed in the Terminal Control
north consultation have been withdrawn. The changes were requested by the CAA,
making the whole NATS consultation process pointless, with regard to London City


15.12.2009   (Hansard)
15 Dec 2009 : Column 939
James Brokenshire (Hornchurch) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity, even at this late hour tonight, to highlight
my concerns and those of my constituents about the impact of flight noise, and
the increase in the number of flights, from London City airport. It is also a
pleasure to debate again with the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the
hon. Member for Gillingham (Paul Clark), on a transport-related matter and I look
forward to hearing his response in due course.

   In the past 10 years, the number of air transport movements at London City airport
has doubled, from just under 21,000 aircraft departures in 1999 to some 42,000
departures in 2008. We are about to see a further significant shift in the use
of the airport. The London borough of Newham has now granted the airport permission
to increase the number of flight movements by 50 per cent. The flights permission
would increase from 80,000 to 120,000 movements a year. London City airport forecasts
that it will handle up to 3.9 million passengers by 2010, and there are long-term
plans to accommodate up to 8 million passengers by 2030. That potentially significant
change in the scale and nature of the operations at the airport has gone largely
unnoticed by many people.

   This is not simply about the number of landings and departures; it is also about
the flight paths that the aircraft will take. Last year, NATS consulted on wide-ranging
proposals for the busy airspace above the south-east of England known as terminal
control north. The plans covered all London airports, with modifications to landing
and departure routings and holding points. In the case of London City airport,
one of the proposed changes was to alter the northerly departure routing. Instead
of aircraft taking a sharp northerly turn almost immediately after take-off and,
thus, over Woodford and Chingford, they were instead intended to take a flight
path to the north-east over my constituency in Hornchurch.

   In September 2008, I received a letter from the head of external communications
at NATS stating that there would be a longer time period for consideration of
the consultation, as further options were being considered, including in respect
of London City departures over north London. It stated that


    “work is ongoing and further design options and suggestions are being evaluated”,

   adding that


    “we have not set a timetable for the next steps on the TCN proposal.”

   In response to a further inquiry from me about the nature of the revised options
being considered for London City, I received a letter on 2 December 2008 stating
that a number of options for the wider terminal control north area were being
considered and that


    “there may well be a requirement for further consultation on any proposals that
    are brought forward, should they be significantly different to those on which
    we have already consulted.”

   It was therefore with some shock and surprise that I discovered several months
after the event that on 8 January this year NATS submitted a formal airspace change
proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to alter the London City airport standard
instrument departure routes, including the change to route more aircraft over
my constituency. Ian Hall, the director of operations for NATS, was quoted in
the accompanying press release as saying:


    “These changes to the turn were proposed in the TCN consultation and are necessary
    to formalise the departure procedures for all aircraft using London City and will
    be an added safety benefit. It is a change we can achieve quickly and the CAA
    is keen that we do so.”

   I was subsequently informed in a letter from NATS that the CAA required it to
expedite an airspace change proposal and that is self-evident when one reads the
CAA decision letter of 20 February 2009. The letter stated that the changes were
deemed by the CAA to be necessary to accommodate an increase in category C aircraft
using the airport rather than following the STOLport configuration – (or short
take-off and landing airport configuration) -that had originally been envisaged.
In his decision letter, the then director of airspace policy at the CAA, John
Arscott, stated that:


    “As part of the TC North development briefings, my head of Controlled Airspace
    advised NATS that a re-design of conventional LCY SIDs”-

   that is, London City standards instrument departures-


    “to meet CAT C design criteria was required at the earliest opportunity and it
    was subsequently agreed that these re-designed SIDs should be incorporated within
    the TC North development project.”

   He went on to say:


    “Following on from the TC North consultation, with the ongoing NATS evaluation
    of the TC North consultation feedback and a potential lengthy delay to eventual
    implementation, I decided that the LCY SID changes to bring conventional procedures
    up to CAT C design criteria could not be delayed any further; therefore, NATS
    was requested to submit a change proposal to bring the SID designs up to CAA and
    ICAO CAT C design requirements at the earliest opportunity.”

   It is interesting to note that that was virtually the last decision Mr. Arscott
took as his term of office came to an end a week later on 1 March 2009.

   So, in essence the terminal control north consultation as far as London City
was concerned was potentially meaningless – one could say that it was a sham.  
The CAA had predetermined that change was necessary.  I find that unacceptable
and believe that I – along with my constituents – was given a completely false
impression when the TCN consultation was initiated. The changes were brought into
effect in May and are already starting to have an impact.

   Both easterly and westerly departures from London City airport to the north that
previously took a sharp turn following take-off are now being directed over my
constituency following a similar track to the initial route adopted for north-easterly
and southerly departures from the airport. Based on the 2009 usage rates published
in the original TCN consultation, that will in future result in a near 50 per
cent. increase in the number of departing aircraft overhead in my constituency
from London City airport.

   Although the CAA might have requirements to bring London City operations into
compliance with CAA and International Civil Aviation Organisation design criteria
for category C departures, that does not mean that my constituents should be forced
to bear the brunt of the noise and environmental impact. Aircraft will be


passing overhead at between 2,000 and 3,000 feet with a typical noise level of
57 to 72 dB and potentially up to 77 dB for BAE 146 or RJ aircraft. The CAA decision
letter accepts that residents will experience additional aircraft noise. Having
read that letter, I am left with the impression that the TCN proposals, so far
as they affected London City, were a done deal, and that the consultation undertaken
was effectively meaningless.

   This comes on top of the Newham council decision to approve an increase in the
number of flight movements at London City by 50 per cent.-from 80,000 movements
to 120,000. The combined impact of the changes to the London City departure routings
and the proposed increase in flights would, in essence, lead to a doubling of
the number of departing aircraft over my Hornchurch constituency. That will have
a noticeable and significant impact on environmental amenity for my constituents.
The double-whammy effect was never communicated or consulted on; again, I find
that utterly unacceptable.

   It is not just me, however. Significant questions are now being raised by neighbouring
boroughs about the nature of the consultation conducted by the London borough
of Newham in relation to approving the increase in flight movements. The London
borough of Redbridge passed an uncontested resolution in November condemning the
failure to consult it on the expansion of London City airport, and opposing further
expansion at the airport or changes to the flight paths or modes of operation
at the airport that would result in an increase in aircraft noise suffered by
local residents. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Scott) was
in the Chamber, he would want to refer to that resolution because he has taken
a close interest in the issue. However, it is not just Redbridge. I understand
that motions in similar terms have also been approved by the London boroughs of
Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

   London City airport is consulting on its draft strategic noise action plan. The
draft plan will have to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport early
next year for consideration before formal adoption under the European environmental
noise directive. I urge the Secretary of State not to accept the plan unless the
significant complaints and concerns that I have raised in the debate have been
properly addressed, particularly the significant impact that residents in east
and north-east London will suffer due to departing aircraft from London City as
a consequence of the flight routing changes. There should be a consideration of
changes to routings, when appropriate, and discussions with both the CAA and NATS,
when necessary, so that my constituents are not forced to bear the brunt of what
I consider to be a fundamentally flawed notification and consultation procedure
on two fronts.

   Will the Minister make urgent representations to both the CAA and NATS about
the nature of their general approach to consultation? The case raises serious
and significant issues, and if their approach is simply to go through the motions
by carrying out consultation on a done deal, that is utterly acceptable.

   I also urge the Minister to instruct NATS and the CAA to go back to the drawing
board, reassess the departure routings from London City, and come back with revised
proposals as part of the next round of consultation under the TCN proposals. It
is worth making the point that London City was specifically stripped out of the
TCN. All the other proposals are

 15 Dec 2009 : Column 942

still subject to further consideration and public consultation. Regardless of
what the CAA might say, it is odd that London City was stripped out in such a
way when everyone was under the impression that the TCN proposals were still being
considered and would be the subject of further consultation.

   Given the circumstances of such a significant change and its combined effect
with the general increase in flight movements, and the impact that that will have
on areas such as Hornchurch, I believe that the regulators have a duty to look
again at the damaging proposals that are being fast-tracked through. While there
might be arguments for increasing London City’s capacity, they need to be balanced
against the impact of additional disruption due to noise. I object that my constituents
will bear the brunt of the environmental downside without any clear upside, that
they are told that they have a voice in a consultation when they are given only
a partial picture of the true scale of changes and that, in any event, their views
would apparently simply be regarded as irrelevant.

   In Hornchurch, we are lucky to have the benefit of significant environmental
amenities. We have a significant amount of green space, with a number of large
parks and sites of significant scientific interest. Their enjoyment will be adversely
affected by these changes.

   I would therefore urge the Minister to use his influence to ensure that those
agencies with responsibility for the planning of our flight paths look again at
the design of the northerly routings from London City airport. They should look
again at the serious environmental impact of their decisions, and be held properly
accountable for their actions to my constituents and the residents of other affected
and the debate continued …………..