Biggin Hill Airport Olympic proposals rejected by Bromley Council

22.3.2011 (News Shopper)

By David Mills

Councillors have thrown out an application from Biggin Hill Airport to extend
operating hours for the Olympic Games.

The airport had requested permission from its landlord Bromley Council to change
the lease so it could open from 6.30am to 11pm each day from July 13 to September
23 in 2012.

Its current opening hours are between 6.30am and 10pm in the week and from 9am
to 8pm at weekends.

The airport also wanted a relaxation of the ban on fare-paying passengers.

A packed public gallery of around 200 people saw 37 councillors vote against
the proposals, eight in favour and 10 abstain, before the council’s executive
rejected the airport’s application.

This followed a consultation where almost 95 per cent of the 2,194 responses
received opposed the plan with just 112 in favour.

Concerns were raised about creating a precedent for future changes to the lease
as well as other fears including an increase in noise pollution.

Farnborough and Crofton councillor Tim Stevens said the proposals would be bad
news for the Princess Royal University Hospital, which lies beneath the flight

He said: “Doctors and nurses report they have trouble hearing each other when
noisy planes are flying over. Surely doctors and patients have a right to enjoy
a night’s sleep and work in peace. They will suffer from additional noise.”

From the same ward, Councillor Robert Evans said: “I believe the Olympics have
been used as poor camouflage to change the modus operandi of the airport.”

In favour of the application, Copers Cope councillor Michael Tickner said: “The
Olympics are a very special event. I can see nothing unreasonable about the airport’s

“Almost everyone who has their home near the airport moved into that home many
years after the airport was in operation.”

Plaistow and Sundridge councillor Michael Turner said: “This is a one-off case.
Now the Olympics are coming we must do everything we can to welcome it.”

Ray Watson, from the campaign group Bromley Residents Against Airport Development,
said: “The council obviously had a rush of sense when they saw the large proportion
of residents who opposed the airport’s application.

“It would have been a massive disappointment had councillors ignored the misery
that would have been caused by the airport expanding.”

Grandfather-of-four Colin Cadman, a former RAF pilot, lives right next to the
airport in Leaves Green.

Mr Cadman said he was delighted the council had rejected the proposals, which
were “the thin end of the wedge”.

He said: “The airport lost the short game but I’m sure they’re aiming to win
the long game.

“Once they change the lease then the door’s wide open for Easyjet and cheap airline

“Everybody is concerned it could end up as a Luton or Manchester.”


see also

Opposition shoots down airport expansion plan

For 11 years Bromley FoE and local residents have fought schemes to extend operations
at Biggin Hill Airport, the famous Battle of Britain fighter base now run as a
commercial airport. And they have won the latest skirmish against heavy odds.

When the airport’s operating company submitted a request for longer opening hours
and for permission to take fare-paying passengers Bromley FoE and three residents’
association formed an alliance called BRAAD – Bromley Residents Against Airport

The airport wanted Bromley Council, its landlord, to loosen its lease for 70
days around the Olympic Games period to take extra flights, and also offered a
money sweetener to the council for every Olympics passenger flight landing there.
They used an advertising campaign and a professional PR company to tell their

BRAAD saw this as a dangerous precedent to achieve a permanent change, pointing
out that regular passenger flights had always been the airport’s objective. This
was confirmed when the group used the Freedom of Information Act to unveil correspondence
showing that the airport and the council had already discussed the possibility.

BRAAD set out to convince councillors of the danger and to get individuals and
local groups to object. Many hours were used in producing and distributing leaflets
and posters, briefing the media and analysing the terms of the lease. Ray Watson,
Bromley FoE transport campaigner, said: ‘It became almost a full-time job’.

The council received 2100 objections from individuals plus 30 representing organisations,
against 100 in favour.

On the night of the council hearing 300 residents packed the public gallery.
They heard councillors picking up BRAAD’s arguments, such as demonstrating that
accommodating the extra flights did not require longer hours, that there was no
evidence to support the claim that extra jobs would be created and that no one
had put a figure on the ‘sweetener’ money.

Councillors voted 37 to 8 to reject the application. But the story does not end
there: the airport has already announced that it will make a further application
to loosen the conditions of its lease.

The Battle of Biggin Hill goes on.