Despair at CAA gives go-ahead for concentrated routes

Press Release

27/11/10 for immediate use

Despair in East London as CAA approves new concentrated flight paths
Campaigners may mount legal challenge

Many residents in East London are in despair following yesterday’s announcement by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that it will allow London City Airport to concentrate its flight paths (1). Campaign group HACAN East is considering legal action against the CAA.

Departure routes will be concentrated places like Bow, parts of Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Dagenham and parts of Havering. Areas of South London will also experience more concentrated routes.

The decision follows uproar at the lack of consultation on the proposals last year. City Airport just put a technical document on its website and inform the Consultative Committee. It was left to HACAN East to hold public meetings in the areas which would be affected. The airport argued that, because the change was largely replicating what was already happening, it was only required by the CAA to carry out a minimal consultation.
Local people, backed by many local authorities, MPs and members of the Greater London Authority, said that a full consultation should have been carried out as some areas would get 30% more planes than they do at present. The CAA was inundated with letters calling for a fresh consultation. Yesterday’s announcement means that the CAA has ruled out a new consultation.

HACAN East chair John Stewart said, “Many people will be in utter despair of the decision. It means that residents who were hardly overflown at all by planes from London City a few years back face (2) the prospect of living under a concentrated flight path for the rest of their lives. It is a terrible prospect.”

Stewart added, “The CAA is already under fire for its attitude towards residents around Heathrow and Gatwick. It is simply wrong that a body largely funded by the aviation industry should be taking these decisions. In our view it is not fit for purpose to have these responsibilities. We are discussing a possible legal challenge with our lawyers.”

(1). CAA Press Release

(2). For more background

For further information:
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641

City Airport wants to acquire part of King George Dock

London City Airport has put in a formal Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)application to acquire part of King George V Dock. It wants to acquire part of the land so it can be used for airport purposes. It appears that it would find it difficult to expand if it was not able to acquire this land. It has made the application to the Secretary of State for Transport under The Airports Act 1986 and the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

If you want to object, write to the Secretary of State for Transport, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR before 5pm on December 2nd.

The Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) because, if confirmed, will enable London City Airport (LCA) to implement planning application 13/01228/FUL, if planning permission is granted following the Public Inquiry due to be held in March 2016.

The CPO includes 94537 square metres of publicly owned land comprising dock and bed withing King George V (KGV) Dock, which the airport intend to deck over in order to provide additional aircraft stands, an extended taxiway and an Eastern Terminal Extension.

The KGV Dock is part of the Royal Docks, which regional and local planning policy identifies as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The SINC is mainly designated as such on account of assemblages of waterfowl and birds associated with standing water habitats.

Newham Core Strategy, policy 4, seeks to protect, enhance and create habitats for biodiversity across Newham. Expansion of LCA over a large area of KGV Dock is not in keeping with this policy.

The KGV Dock is also part of the Blue Ribbon Network and the proposed development over the dock is contrary to Policy 7.28 and 7.84 of the London Plan (and hence the Development Plan).

Historic England advised that the proposed development would cause harm to the signifiacance of the dock because it would reduce the current visible scale and extent of the water, which is a key aspect of the historic interest of the KGV Dock.

When making an objection you will need to quote the areas you are objecting about:

Approximately 4763 square metres of land, access roads, service yard and private highway in the vicinity of London City Airport and the London City Airport Docklands Light Railway Station (refs: L1 – L9).

Approximately 94537 square metres of land comprising dock and bed thereof within King George V Dock, including dolphin structures and located to the east of London City Airport, south of the existing East Pier at London City Airport and north of private highway (Hartman Road) (refs L10 – L13)

Approximately 12574 square metres of private highway (Hartman Road) to the south of King George V Dock (refs L14 – L17)

Approximately 124 square metres of public adopted highway (Hartman Road) at its junction with Fishguard Way (ref18)

There is also a parallel proposal to object to:London City Airport (Rights Over Land) Order. Send objection to the same address.

Simply Unfair

by John Stewart


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to announce its decision on whether London City Airport will be required to re-consult on it proposals to concentrate flight path over narrow corridors.

If the CAA allows London City’s flight path plans to go-ahead, it will be against all the laws of natural justice. Hundreds of thousands of people who never expected more than a small percentage of flights over their homes will get all the flights over them.

It is a story of rank injustice and it makes my blood boil.

The story begins in 2008. NATS (the air traffic controllers) carried out a consultation for flight path changes for an area known as Terminal Control North (TCN) which covers the airspace north of the Thames for Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and London City Airports.

The proposals caused uproar. They were dropped….except for the ones covering London City.

What NATS did not tell local residents that London City would not be able to operate the bigger planes it has started to use without the flight path changes. In other words, unlike all the other airports, NATS had no real option but to approve the City Airport changes.

This was never explained to the residents of East London. Or at least to the few who knew the consultation was taking place. It is a strong word to use but there is no doubt in my mind these residents were deceived into believing the authorities had the option of dropping these 2008 flight path changes.

They were needed because the larger jet planes could not make the tight turn when taking off that the smaller turbo-props which they were replacing could do.

It meant that many areas got a lot more planes – places like Bow, parts of Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Dagenham and parts of Havering.

But then in 2014 came the hammer blow. London City said it wanted to concentrate all the take-offs on those routes. And it argued that, because the change was largely replicating what was already happening, it was only required by the CAA to carry out a minimal consultation. All it did was put a technical document on its website and inform the supine Consultative Committee.

The concentration, which will also affect parts of South London, would mean that some areas would get 30% more planes than they do now.

The key point is that areas which 10 years ago were relatively undisturbed by London City aircraft are faced with the prospect of getting all the planes concentrated over them. And they have never been properly informed or consulted about it.

And it gets worse. Many of these areas are also overflown by aircraft flying into Heathrow. In fact, according to a study carried out by HACAN, Waltham Forest is the third most overflown borough in London after Hounslow and Richmond.

This cavalier treatment of their residents has infuriated local councils and was probably behind Boris Johnson’s recent rejection of London City’s plans to expand.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this is that the aviation industry simply doesn’t seem to grasp the impact these changes have on residents. HACAN East went to see the CAA, (which oversees all flight path changes) about the 2008 flight path changes. They simply did not grasp that moving a lot of planes even just a mile has a significant impact on residents, including those many miles from the airport. (A key problem at City Airport is that departing planes cannot take off steeply because of the Heathrow aircraft above them).

In recent years there has been controversy over flight path changes at Gatwick and Birmingham and trials at Heathrow and Edinburgh. The fury has startled the CAA and NATS, both of which are reviewing their procedures. We’d welcome constrictive dialogue with both bodies.

But what has happened at City Airport is the best advertisement there could be for an Independent Noise Authority to be in place to ensure fairness. Because what has happened to the people of East London is simply unfair.

Expansion Public Inquiry: HACAN East’s Statement of Case

HACAN East will be giving evidence to the Public Inquiry in March 2016 where London City Airport’s appeal to expand was refused – on noise grounds – by the Mayor of London.

London City wants to expand the taxiways, build bigger parking bays for the aircraft and expand the size of the terminal to allow bigger planes and more passengers to use the airport.

You can read HACAN East’s Statement of Case here:


CAA decision on flight path changes expected Ocotber

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to announce its decision on whether London City Airport will be required to reconsult on it proposals to concentrate flight path over narrow corridors in October.

The CAA have also come in for big criticism in Scotland where they failed to order a proper consultation on a flight path change at Edinburgh Airport.  See video of fascinating debate in the Scottish Parliament.  GIP, which also owns London City Airport, comes in for much criticism.

Flight paths would be concentrated over areas like Bow, parts of Leyton, Leytonstone,Wanstead, Dagenham and parts of Havering.  In South London they would be concentrated over Eltham, Catford, Dulwich, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell and Brixton.

Last year there was anger from residents, local authorities and politicians that City Airport refused to leaflet the areas affected or hold public meetings.

Hundreds of people  complained to the CAA, which oversees the process, and called for a fresh consultation.

Debate in the Scottish Parliament:

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Campaign Group to take on Airport at Public Inquiry

Campaign Group to take on Airport at Public Inquiry

Local campaign group Hacan East has been granted Rule 6 Status at a planning inquiry assessing whether or not City Airport should be granted permission to expand.

‘Rule 6 Status’ means the group will be recognised as a formally involved party at the Inquiry, due to begin in March.

The other Rule 6 parties are the Mayor of London, Newham Council and London City Airport.  Their statements of case are below.  The Public Inquiry will be held in March next year.  It follows the Mayor of London’s refusal to approve City Airport’s expansion proposals on noise grounds (1).

The Airports wants a bigger terminal and new taxiways to allow bigger planes to use the airport which would enable it to serve destinations further way  – places like Moscow and Istanbul – in addition to the short-haul destinations it mostly serves today.

On receiving the news that the Planning Inspectorate had granted the group Rule 6 Status, HACAN East Chair John Stewart said: “This will be the chance for a residents-led group to go face-to-face with City Airport bosses to question them on their expansion proposals, which would inflict unacceptable noise and air pollution on east Londoners.”

Newham Council granted planning permission in February but Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London directed the council to refuse such permission.(1)


Statements of Case (the arguments the different bodies will be putting forward at the Public Inquiry).  HACAN East’s will be available at the end of September.


Mayor of London Statement of Case – 19 August 2015 APPG5750W153035673

Newham’s: Statement of Case on Behalf of the Local Planning Authority (Final) 19.8…

There is an economic case to shut down London City Airport

“The new owners should buy it, shut it and then develop the land.  It’s that simple”

 The words of Alan Haughton, from Stop City Airport, in a letter published in the Evening Standard (7/8/15).

 Is it that simple?  City Airport is to be put on the market very soon and could be sold buy Christmas.  Could it be bought and developed as something other than an airport?  Should it be?

Shutting down an airport in a major capital city sounds ridiculous.  But there is a case for using the land City Airport occupies for a different sort of development.  The environmental case is obvious.  It would cut the noise and air pollution the airport causes.  But there is too an economic case.

It was spelt out in Royal Docks Revival: Replacing City Airport, a report published by the New Economics Foundation in 2014.

At first the argument may seem counter-intuitive.  City has the highest proportion of business passengers – 62% – of any airport in the country.  It whisks people from the financial and political centres of Europe – Zurich, Luxembourg, Brussels – to Docklands, The City of London and the West End quickly and efficiently.

It contributes £750 million each year to the UK economy.  Sound a lot but the Excel Centre in East London, close to the airport and occupying roughly the same amount of space as the airport, contributes £1.3 billion.  That suggests it might make good economic sense for the new owners to “buy it, shut it and then develop the land.”

 It could work in terms of employment as well.  City Airport employs the equivalent of 1,900 full-time people.  The proposed Silvertown Quays development, just along the road, estimates it will employ 9,000.  Even if that turns out to be an overestimate, the difference remains huge.

But what will happen to the passengers currently using the airport?  The New Economics Foundation report found that the closure of London City would not add to the pressure to expand Heathrow or any other London airport.  City only accounts for 2.4% of the traffic at the London airports which would be easily absorbed.  Moreover, once Crossrail opens, City’s key catchment areas will be within about a half hour from Heathrow.

The unthinkable – closing the airport – is not just practicable but could benefit both the local and national economy.

Blog by John Stewart, 9/8/15

London City Airport up for sale

Press Release

 6/7/15 for immediate use

 London City Airport up for sale

London City Airport is to be put up for sale at the end of the year, its owners, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), announced yesterday.  GIP is looking to get £2 billion but airport’s value could be limited by its recent failure to get planning permission for a £200m development that could increase the number of passengers it handles to 6m by 2023.

London City won planning permission for expansion from Newham Council in February, but this was then overturned by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, the following month over noise concerns. London City is appealing against the mayor’s decision. A Public Inquiry will take place in March next year but the outcome is not likely to be known until summer next year by which time GIP hopes to have completed the sale.

GIP has always argued that expansion was essential to the future of the airport because the extra terminal and taxiway capacity would allow bigger planes needed to open up the airport to more distant destinations, such as the Gulf, the Middle East, Russia and North Africa.

Local campaign HACAN East published a report last year which argued that there would be more economic benefits to the area if the airport closed.  The report by the New Economics Foundation found that the economic and employment benefits the airport brought to East London were small in comparison to other new developments in the area.

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN East, said, “When Crossrail opens Docklands and the City of London, the key business markets London City serves, will be within half an hour of Heathrow.  We will be pressing developers to seize this chance to buy the airport and use the valuable land it occupies to build developments which would enhance the local economy without all the downsides of noise and pollution that the airport has brought.”


 For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650