London City Airport 4-week appeal under way, against Mayor’s refusal of expansion plans

A planning appeal by London City Airport, against refusal by the Mayor of London for its expansion plans is taking place at City Hall. It is due to last 3 – 4 weeks.  Newham Council approved plans for the £200 million redevelopment in February 2015, but when they were referred to the Mayor for approval, he overruled the permission on grounds of too much aircraft noise.  It appears the GLA (Greater London Authority) has little complaint about much of the application, and is supportive of the airport’s growth in principle. However, noise is the key issue and there is a fundamental difference in the way the noise contours are being used, by the two sides. The contours using averaged noise for the airport’s operations give a smaller 57dB area than if single noise measurements are used. Opponents of the airport’s expansion, HACAN East, fear that the expansion plans would mean many thousand residents experiencing much higher amounts of noise. They say their supporter base believes that current noise levels are unacceptable. John Stewart, speaking for HACAN East said: “Our supporters have felt over the years that their voices have not been heard, not by the airport, not by Newham. Many residents close to the airport have felt abandoned. They have felt overwhelmed by this planning application which has lasted over two and a half years.”


These are the documents associated with the appeal:


These are the proofs of evidence from HACAN East


These are the proofs of evidence from the GLA


Dispute over the future of London City Airport comes down to rival algorithms

17 MAR 2016

Planning appeal over £200m expansion hears that Mayor Boris Johnson agrees with LCY on most things – except the calculation used to assess noise nuisance

The future of London City Airport’s £200million expansion plans rests on a quarrel over the method for calculating noise nuisance.

While campaigners at a planning inquiry at City Hall are hoping to raise a range of deep-rooted objections – including air quality and the “festering anger” among residents – the crux of the issue is likely to be a technicality – which formula best describes who is affected by the airport’s growth.

The number of households in dispute is relatively small – about 8,800 homes on the fringes – but the impact on LCY’s costs could be significant – up to £29.5million to fit insulation measures.

The planning appeal, set to last four weeks, is unlikely to challenge the growth of aviation in the capital, which appeared to be the motive of the Mayor of London Boris Johnson when he blocked the scheme a year ago after it had been passed by Newham Council.

At that time, the decision was billed as a broadside by Boris Johnson in pursuit of his cherished dream of an island airport in the Thames estuary. LCY’s aspirations to build new terminal buildings and accommodate larger aeroplanes appeared to be collateral damage in the debate over Heathrow’s third runway.

The mayor’s decision was greeted with frustration as Newham Council itself had agreed the plans, which would see the creation of 2,000 jobs and an economic boost of £750million to the capital. [Or that is what the airport says – treat the figures with caution. AW comment].

Common ground

But much of the heat has gone out the battle since then and the lawyers gathered in City Hall surrounded by mountains of documents on Tuesday found themselves sharing common ground on many key points.

They agree the issue is not the air quality, the impact on the “Blue Ribbon” waterway network, the extra traffic or the safety zones.

The mayor’s team said he welcomed the economic benefits the upgrade would bring and Mr Johnson was not vexed by the overall marginal increase in noise levels that will arise from a possible 111,000 plane movements a year, up from a “fallback” figure of 95,000.

His objection, once distilled through the prism of planning policy, comes down to the method of measuring which houses sit on the threshold of a noise nuisance as determined by two contradictory methodologies.

Both sides consider their opponents’ formula flawed.

The method adopted by Newham, and London City Airport takes an average figure for the whole affected area and say this is in line with Government policy. The mayor’s experts say this has no relevance to City Airport.

Contour map

The difference between those affected at the level of 57dB according ‘average’ noise (green) calculations and ‘single mode’ measurements (pink) – 2023

Overlaid on a map, the two contours are broadly similar but there are areas when the “single mode” bulges further than the “average” contour – mostly in the Thamesmead area in the east and towards Poplar in the west – and it is these disputed zones which are the frontline in this appeal.

Douglas Edwards, QC for the Greater London Authority said: “London City Airport has one runway which operates in one of two modes – westerly, 70% of the time the airport is operational, or easterly, 30% of the time. There is no third mode for London City Airport called ‘average’.

“If the appeal is allowed, a substantial number of residents will be exposed to a level of noise, which is agreed represents the onset of community annoyance for 70% of the time; a different group of residents will similarly be exposed for 30% of the time.

“On London City Airport’s approach, these residents would be denied any mitigation through the offer of noise insulation.”

Counsel for the airport Michael Humphries says this algorithm “lacks technical justification” and, if allowed, would signal a significant change in national policy.

Campaigners’ plea

Campaign group Hacan East is represented at the inquiry. John Stewart told planning inspector Martin Whitehead: “While we try to engage with the modelling and the stats and the technical details – sometimes more successfully than others – our position is informed by something quite simple; our supporter base believes that current noise levels are unacceptable.

“Our supporters have felt over the years that their voices have not been heard, not by the airport, not by Newham. Many residents close to the airport have felt abandoned.

“They have felt overwhelmed by this planning application which has lasted over two and a half years.

“Consultation after consultation have blindsided and jaded local people who do not know what is going on, and have given up trying to understand it.”



This is the programme for the Appeal, over 4 weeks.



And publicity puff by the airport:

End delays to London City Airport expansion and the whole UK will see the benefits

Tuesday 15 March 2016

By Declan Collier (who is chief executive of London City Airport)

UK airports had their busiest ever summer last year, collectively handling 78m passengers, and the indicators are that 2015 as a whole was the busiest year on record. London City Airport certainly had a record-breaking year, with 18 per cent growth in passengers to 4.3m.

More people than ever are taking to the skies and generating wealth for the UK economy in doing so – passengers travelling through London City did £11bn worth of trade last year. People want to travel. Business people need to travel: Civil Aviation Authority statistics show that growth was driven by scheduled traffic, rising by 4.8 per cent at London airports in the third quarter of 2015.

Airports generate income, support jobs, enable trade and nurture tourism, and yet future growth is being stifled.

Three years after first submitting an application for planning permission, and some £13m in costs later, a public inquiry into expansion at London City Airport opens today at City Hall.

A decision by the mayor of London, taken against the recommendations of his advisers, blocked plans to expand London City Airport through developing infrastructure to reach an already permitted number of flights. In 2015, there were 79,000 flights at the airport and our forecasts show this will grow to 111,000 by 2025. That’s an additional 32,000 flight movements a year in and out of London; capacity that can free up slots at Heathrow for long-haul by moving selected short-haul services to London City, and which can offer more choice to travellers over when and where they travel.

At the inquiry, expected to run for three weeks, we will present our case for expansion. As the airport with by far the largest proportion of business travellers in the UK (52 per cent), we know growth at London City supports growth in and around East London, and in the key business and financial centres of the capital.

The Airports Commission recommended that the UK should make best use of existing capacity in the short term, before any new runway can be built. While a decision on that new runway continues to be delayed, it is crucial that we are allowed to deliver on this recommendation.

Expansion at London City does not require a new runway or an extension to the existing one. It simply enables us to make the most of what we’ve got.

Business travellers want to travel during peak hours and, as a result, we are full in the early morning and evening. We want to build a parallel taxi-lane to get aircraft on and off the runway quicker, to maximise runway use at peak times, and to accommodate around seven additional flights in the busiest hours.

We also need to be able to manage more “next generation” aircraft on the ground at one time, so we will build seven new aircraft parking stands. The stands will be bigger, enabling these larger next generation aircraft to operate out of London City. SWISS Airlines will soon be adding the Bombardier C-Series to its London City fleet, which is quieter and more fuel-efficient so can fly further, able to reach as far as the Middle East, Russia and the US. Our development has the potential to allow direct flights to these destinations from Zone 3, just 15 minutes on public transport from Canary Wharf and 22 minutes from Bank.

The final piece of the jigsaw is expanding the terminal building itself. London City was built in 1987 to cater for up to 1.2m passengers. Last year 4.3m people passed through the doors and the building is struggling to keep pace. By extending the terminal, the airport can continue to offer the speed of transit it is well-known for – 20 minutes door to plane on departure and 15 minutes plane to train on arrival – while maintaining the levels of customer service and experience that have made London City a multi award-winning airport.

A positive decision following the appeal will enable the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs – 1,600 airport jobs and a further 500 during construction. And it will enable the airport’s contribution to the UK economy to rise to £1.3bn per year.

A decision on the location of a new runway in the South East has yet to be made by the government. However, whatever it does ultimately decide, the runway is unlikely to be delivered before 2028 at the earliest. Better use of existing airport capacity must be made in the interim. London City already has permission to increase flight movements. We simply require permission to expand existing infrastructure to inject much-needed capacity into the London system, and it could be operational within two years.

Airports bring immense benefits to the communities in which they operate – through employment, education, training and community relations – and to the wider economy, as well as facilitating trade and providing businesses with the opportunity to develop and invest. Expansion at London City will benefit the people of East London, inward investment in the area, and the business heart of the capital. Our development plans have the support of the local community and London businesses – 80 per cent of business decision-makers say greater air connectivity to other business destinations from London City is important to them and their company.

London City is the most punctual airport in London, and yet is being subjected to entirely avoidable delays. Let’s get growth off the ground now.

The draft programme





Boris Johnson gets £525,000 to fight City Airport’s appeal over expansion

9 August 2015 (Standard)

Boris Johnson has secured more than £525,000 to fight an appeal by London City Airport after he blocked its expansion plans.

The airport’s bosses will take on the Mayor at a public inquiry next year after he intervened and directed local councillors to turn down the development because it was too noisy.

The scheme includes extra parking for larger planes, a bigger passenger terminal and a “taxi lane” for more planes to use the runway.

The plans mean the annual number of take-offs and landings would increase from 70,000 to 111,000. Passenger numbers would nearly double to six million by 2023.

According to City Hall documents, £525,000 of public money — plus VAT charges — has been signed off to “enable the Mayor to robustly defend his decision” to direct Newham council to refuse the planning application.

Mr Johnson has personally signed off the fighting fund from the Greater London Authority’s planning reserves. About £250,000 is estimated to be paid to expert witnesses and consultants, while £275,000 is for lawyers.

Newham approved plans for the £200 million redevelopment in February. They were referred to the Mayor for approval, but he overruled the councillors the following month.

Mr Johnson said the expansion would cause an “unacceptable increase in noise for east Londoners” and it “would not be for the greater benefit of the city”.

Sir Robin Wales, elected mayor of Labour-run Newham, accused Mr Johnson of “blatant electioneering” as the decision was taken in the run-up to the general election.

Mr Johnson supports a new hub airport in the Thames estuary, which was ruled out by the independent airports commission.

London City Airport bosses claim expansion would create around 2,000 jobs in east London, and a spokesman said the Mayor’s decision ignored “the significant social and economic benefits.” The airport also said it had proposed a package of measures to mitigate noise.

But Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the London Assembly Lib-Dem group, said the aviation industry “sadly never accepts no as an answer.”

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “The Mayor has a responsibility to ensure that London’s strategic planning interests are taken into account and he directed Newham council to refuse London City Airport’s planning application due to concerns about the noise impact of their plans.”