London: Too Dirty for Business?

Posted on January 31, 2012

‘London has got to clean up its act if its wants remain the top business city’

A new report (1) released today claims that it is not a lack of airport capacity which threatens London’s position as the top city in Europe to do business but its poor environment.  Too Dirty for Business? concludes that London’s excellent transport links to the rest of the world make it Europe’s premier business city.  However, that position is under threat because many of its rivals score more highly on quality of life, pollution and a lack of traffic congestion, all key considerations for businesses when deciding where to locate.

The report is published on the same day as London First’s Connectivity Commission is launching its findings.  It is expected to call for more airport capacity in the South East.

Too Dirty for Business? highlights the findings of the annual survey carried out by the respected global property consultants Cushman & Wakefield which found that in 2011 “London is still ranked – by some distance from its closest competitors – as the leading city in which to do business.”

Cushman & Wakefield found that London’s international transport links were much better than those of its competitors.  This finding has been endorsed by WWF in its report, International Air Connectivity for Business, which said Heathrow was ‘in a class of its own’ as far as its international air links were concerned.

London performed badly in all the surveys on the quality of life it offered, scoring particularly poorly on air pollution and traffic congestion.

Report author John Stewart said, “The message is clear.  London has got to clean up its act if its wants remain the top city for business.  New runways and new roads will just add to the pollution, noise and traffic congestion.  You can’t have more flights and a better quality of life.  A clear choice has got to be made.”

Too Dirty for Business? argues that that it cannot be assumed that, if no more airport capacity is built, London will lose its top spot: “The market will determine which destinations are served.  Airlines using a constrained Heathrow, for example, will concentrate their resources on their most profitable, inter-continental routes which attract a significant number of business passengers, squeezing out short-haul leisure flights which will relocate to other London airports with spare capacity.”




Notes for Editors:

(1). Too Dirty for Business? has been published by HACAN which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths.

For further information:

John Stewart, Chair HACAN, 0207 737 6641; 07957385650


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London City Airport expected to be sold later this year

Posted on January 22, 2012

London City Airport is expected to be put up for sale this year (1).  Declan Collier, who takes over as Chief Executive in the Spring, has been asked by its owners, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), to review the options for selling the airport.

At present it is thought the airport would struggle to fetch much more than the £742m that GIP paid for it in 2006. In a buoyant market, GIP and the current minority stake partner Highstar Capital could expect as much as £1.25bn.

Business passengers account for over 60% of trips at London City, by some distance the highest percentage of any UK airport.  Most of those business passengers are heading for Docklands or the City of London.  However, the benefits of the airport to East London are less clear-cut.  London City directly employs less than 500 people.

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN East, which represents residents under the London City and Heathrow flight paths, said, “Surely this is the time to question what overall benefits City Airport brings to East and South East London.  It causes noise and air pollution but contributes little to the local economy.”

Stewart added: “When Crossrail opens Canary Wharf will be within 40 minutes of Heathrow.  Will there be any need for City Airport?  Is that the chance to lift the blight caused by the airport?”




Notes for Editors:


For further information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650


Cameron announces Thames Estuary Airport Study

Posted on January 18, 2012

HACAN East: “What nobody has dared tell us is how far the noise footprint from an Estuary Airport would extend into London”

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that a new airport in the Thames Estuary will form part of the Government’s consultation on its aviation policy, expected in March (1).  The Government has ruled out any new runways in the South East for the duration of this Parliament but the consultation will include options for new runways for the longer-term.  However, any further expansion of Heathrow has been ruled out.

The decision to include the option of a Thames Estuary Airport appears to have been made under pressure from business interests which are concerned about lack of capacity.  However, the Government’s own forecasts of future demand, published last July, suggest that no new runway would be required before 2030.

An estuary airport would call into question the future of Heathrow.  The Department for Transport concluded in 2002 that there was not the market in London and the South East for two international hub airports.

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN East, which represents residents under the London City and Heathrow flight paths, said: “There are real concerns in East and South East London that aircraft from Heathrow would simply be replaced by aircraft from a Thames Estuary airport.  What nobody has dared tell us is how far the noise footprint from an Estuary Airport would extend into London.  It is likely to considerable as they are talking about a four runway, 24 hour airport.  Of course flights will either come in or take off over the sea but there is no way they can avoid built up areas. ”

Stewart added: “There are also huge questions to be asked as to whether any government should even be considering this sort of airport given aviation’s fast-growing contribution to climate change.”




Notes for Editors:


For further information: 

John Stewart0207 737 6641; 07957385650


Flight Path to Poverty

Posted on January 15, 2012

A shock report published last week has revealed that East London tops the league for child poverty.  It contains three of the worst boroughs in the country.  Tower Hamlets heads the list.  The report from the Campaign to End Child Poverty (4) found 52% of its children are in poverty.  Hackney, the fourth worst borough, has 39% in poverty and Newham, in sixth place, 37%.

HACAN East (1), which represents residents under London City and Heathrow flight paths, said that many of these areas are also blighted by aircraft noise.  A 2007 report by the respected noise consultants Bureau Veritas found aircraft noise levels in parts of Tower Hamlets matched those in West London (2) while a CAA report into the effects of noise on children showed that noise from aircraft had a serious detrimental effect of a child's cognitive abilities (3).

The CAA report says "there is evidence to suggest that chronic aircraft noise has a deleterious effect on memory, sustained attention, reading comprehension and reading ability. Early studies highlighted that aircraft noise was also implicated in children from noisy areas having a higher degree of helplessness i.e. were more likely to give up on difficult tasks than those children in quieter areas"

HACAN East spokesman Alan Haughton, said, “Many communities close to and under the London City Airport flight path are trapped in poverty. There is cross board agreement that one of the key factors to lift children out of poverty is education. Chronic aircraft noise has a negative impact on a child's reading comprehension and ability which in turn can have a detrimental effect on a child's education and further trapping them in a cycle of poverty. We should be prioritising these children and not those overhead in their private jets”.

Drew Primary School and UEL are two examples of education facilities that are metres from London City Airports' active runway. Drew Primary School is shockingly within the 66 – 69db contour – nearly 20 decibels over what the World Health Organisation say is acceptable.

HACAN East has broken down the figures into wards overflown.  It shows that two of the most heavily overflown wards in Tower Hamlets, Bromley-by-Bow and Whitechapel, have child poverty levels of 55% and 53% respectively.  In Newham two of the wards closest to the airport, Royal Docks and Beckton, have figures of 37% and 35%.

In Barking, Mayesbrook ward, heavily overflown by departing aircraft, has child poverty levels of 37%.  In Waltham Forest, the two wards with the highest poverty levels – Leyton (40% and Cathall 39%) – are flown over by both Heathrow and London City aircraft.

South of the river wards with high levels of child poverty experience aircraft noise: Thamesmead Moorings (33%); Woolwich Common and Woolwich Riverside (both 42%).




Notes for Editors

(1). HACAN East was formed last year.  It is a sister organisation of the long-established HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths.  You can find us on:  Twitter: @hacaneast



(4).The report is at:

Child Poverty Map of the UK report published by Campaign to End Child Poverty – 10th of Jan, 2012

The top 10 local authorities for child poverty in the UK are:

Local Authority

% of children in poverty 2011

Tower Hamlets



















The top 10 parliamentary constituencies for child poverty in the UK are:

Constituency (pre-2010 boundaries)

% of children in poverty 2011

Bethnal Green and Bow


Manchester Central


Poplar and Canning Town


Belfast West


Birmingham, Ladywood


Liverpool, Riverside


Islington South and Finsbury


Hackney South and Shoreditch


Birmingham, Sparbrook and Small Heath


Regent's Park and North Kensington


For further information:

Alan Haughton on 07909 907395

John Stewart (Chair HACAN East) on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650


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High Speed Rail needs to go to Scotland to compete with air

Posted on January 8, 2012

In the week in which Transport Secretary Justine Greening is expected to give the go-ahead for a high-speed rail link to Birmingham, campaign group HACAN East (1) has said that the new link would need to reach Scotland before a significant number of people would switch from planes to the train.

At present there are nearly 200 flights a week between London City Airport and Scotland (2).  Scottish flights make up between 16% and 20% of all flights using City Airport.  A high-speed rail line would bring Edinburgh and Glasgow within 3 hours of London.

HACAN East Chair John Stewart said: “If the number of Scottish flights could be reduced significantly, it would be a welcome relief to people under the City Airport flight paths.  It would cut noise and pollution.  It would also help cut the country’s climate change emissions”.

Stewart added: “All the evidence shows that people will switch from plane to train if the price is right and the journey time is no more than about 3 hours.”




Notes for Editors:

(1). HACAN East was formed last year.  It is the sister organisation of the long-established HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths.  You can find us on:  Twitter: @hacaneast

(2). Each week there are 110 flights between London City and Edinburgh; 46 between City and Glasgow; and 36 between City and Dundee.

For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650


BAA admit Heathrow flights cause problems outside West London

Posted on January 3, 2012

Heathrow aircraft are causing noise problems in east and south-east London because they're joining their final approach path 2-3 miles further east than they used to

Heathrow aircraft are causing noise problems in east and south-east London because they're joining their final approach path 2-3 miles further east than they used to

BAA, the owners of Heathrow, has recognized that planes using the airport cause noise problems beyond the traditional area of West London. In a ground-breaking report, produced jointly with HACAN, the sister body of HACAN East, BAA has acknowledged that parts of east and south east London have problems they did not have before: “statistical analysis has shown that the most common point by which aircraft join their final approach to Heathrow has moved around 2 – 3 miles further from the airport in the last 15 or so years.” Aircraft used to join their final approach to Heathrow around Barnes in West London. The fact that the joining point was moved further east has resulted in big noise problems for places in east and south east London. These problems have become even more noticeable s the number of planes using Heathrow has increased. The report, which British Airways and Air Traffic Control (NATS) have also signed up to, has been sent to the Department for Transport.


Aircraft noise measurements ‘inaccurate and misleading’

Posted on January 1, 2012

HACAN East (1), the campaign group which represents residents under the flight paths of City and Heathrow airports in East and South East London, has described the way aircraft noise in the area is currently measured as ‘inaccurate and misleading’.  The campaigners are calling on the Government to include proposals to change the system in its new aviation policy which is expected to come out for public consultation before the end of March.

At present the way the noise is measured doesn’t take account of the fact that tens of thousands of people in East and South East London live under both the City and Heathrow flight paths.  When noise measurements are taken for flights from each of the airports, they are not combined.  As far back as 2007, this was recognized as underestimating the total noise heard by residents.  A report from the leading noise experts, Bureau Veritas, found that, if the noise levels were combined, aircraft noise levels in parts of East London matched those in West London (2).

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN East, said, “Currently the way noise is measured underestimates the total noise suffered by people living under the flight paths of both London City and Heathrow airports.  It paints an inaccurate and misleading picture.  We will be lobbying the Government to ensure changes are made when it comes out with its proposals for its new aviation policy in the early part of this year.”


(1). HACAN East was formed last year.  It is a sister organisation of the long-established HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths.  You can find us on:  Twitter: @hacaneast

(2).“No Place to Hide”

(carried out a few years ago, but just as relevant today)

UK airports have traditionally used the Leq method of measuring noise.  Noise is averaged out over a 16 hour day, and then over the year.  Only when the annual average is over 57 decibels is noise considered to be a problem.  Many consider that does not reflect reality.  For example, in West London, places like Putney and Fulham, clearly affected by aircraft noise, are outside the 57 decibel contour.  The EU required airports to use another method known as Lden when drawing up their Noise Action Plans.  Lden averages out the noise over a 12 hour day; a 4 hour evening; and then an 8 hour night.  It then adds 5 decibels to the evening figure and 10 decibels to the night figure to allow for lower general background noise levels.  The EU says it more accurately reflects the way people hear noise.  At Heathrow, the differences are startling.  Around 250,000 people live within the 57 Leq contour; over 700,000 within the 55 Lden contour.  An Lden contour for City Airport would almost include many more people.