'Enraged' Leytonstone residents speak about air traffic affecting their lives

By  Laura O’Callaghan Waltham Forest Guardian, 5/10/16

People living under a flight path of London City Airport say they are “enraged” that they were not consulted about the increase in air traffic.

The airport were given the paths in February meaning more planes will fly in a narrower space, which people say is impacting their sleep and quality of life.

Michael Plant, who lives in Leytonstone, said the problem has got so bad that he is sleep deprived and almost crashed his car one day.

The 45-year-old said: “It is just a complete nightmare. I might as well be sitting in the middle of a runway.

“For eight months I was having between three and five hours sleep a night and I started to get migraines.

“I ended up nearly crashing the car on the way to Sussex one day and I had to turn around and go back home.

“Sometimes I hear the planes as early as 4.30am and they come every 50 seconds and I have to go out of the house just to keep myself sane.”

Mother-of-two Saci Lloyd, who lives in Leytonstone, said she is angry that the airport didn’t consult residents and she feels there is no need for all the flights.

The author said: “I feel enraged that they can do this without a public consultation.

“It makes me feel powerless and like I am not being listened to,

“Many of the planes are not full and they are carrying businessmen to Amsterdam and Geneva who could make a call instead.

“Even when it’s hot I have to close the windows because of the noise and my son gets woken up early in the morning.”

Steve Cushion, of Fladgate Road, Leytonstone, has lived in the area for 35 years.

The 66-year-old said: “I think it is disgusting and I see no reason for building an airport in central London just so a few business men can save half an hour to get in and out.

“I would like it to close but I realise it is really unlikely.

“I want a reduction of their flights so I can sit outside in my garden because now it is not pleasant hearing planes all the time.”

Chair of Forest Residents’ Association, Vaseem Gill - www.vaseemgill.com -  who has lived in Leytonstone for 30 years, said: “When my family sits out in our garden and a plane passes we cannot hear ourselves talk.

“Also, when we go for a nice leisurely walk in the forest nearby it is annoying because there are planes constantly overhead.”

A spokesman for London City Airport said: “From February this year, the airport was required to replicate its existing flight paths to enable a new form of aircraft navigation, as part of a wider programme to modernise airspace over south east England. 

“In practice, this means aircraft fly the same routes as previously, but more accurately.  

“A new system for arrivals was also introduced, positioning aircraft over the Thames Estuary to reduce time flying over residential areas. 



HACAN East at Wanstead Festival

HACAN East stall at the Wanstead Festival in September

HACAN East stall at the Wanstead Festival in September

The concern about the concentrated flight paths became very clear indeed when we took a stall at the Wanstead Festival on 18th September.  People were queuing at the stall to tell us how the flight paths where badly affecting them.  Our chair John Stewart,  a veteran of numerous stalls over many years said he had never seen so many people come so eagerly to a stall to talk about their experiences. 

  • 1st October: Reclaim the Power is organizing a day of protest against airport expansion.  Check our sister site HACAN site for details: http://wp.me/p5NPQ9-CF 

Concentrated flight paths bring a flood of complains

Press Release

29/8/16 for immediate use

 Concentrated flight paths bring a flood of complains

London City Airport’s decision to concentrate all its flights paths earlier this year has resulted in a flood of complaints.  HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents under the flight paths, today launched a short report outlining some of the complaints they received in just one month - read report: HACAN East booklet

John Stewart, chair of the campaign group, said, “We have received dozens of complaints over the last month.  The hot weather has made people particularly aware of the planes.  The concentrated flight paths have brought complaints from many areas for the first time.  The complaints have come from vast swathes of east and south east London.”

One person in south London said, “We have gone from having little or no flights to one every 3 minutes.  Some of us have spent a lifetime trying to get on the housing ladder only for this to happen.”

Another wrote: “I moved to Dagenham from Kingsland Road in Hackney in 2014 because my family & I wanted more peace and quiet; now it's noisier than living on Kingsland Road in Hackney; we are heart-broken.”

Stewart said that HACAN East has met with the airport who said they ‘have not closed their mind’ to looking again at the concentrated flight paths but will not do so until next year after the Government has issued its forthcoming consultation on national airspace policy.



Over the summer months we have had a steam of emails and phone calls from people disturbed by the new flight paths.  They have come from huge swathes of east and south London.

This is a short update on the situation. 

 We have had meetings with both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the airport in the light of the fact that the airport is required to review the concentrated flight paths.  It seems clear from the meetings that the CAA does not consider it to be within its remit to initiate change but it will assess any changes the airport process.  The airport told us that by February 2017 they need to produce a report for the CAA on whether the flight paths have achieved their purpose in operational terms.  The CAA will comment on that report by May 2017.

 But, more encouragingly, the airport did tell us it ‘has not closed its mind’ to some form of respite.  They may look at that about this time next year.  The Government is expected to consult on its airspace policy either later this year or early next year and City Airport wants to see what that says before looking again at its concentrated flight paths.

 Meanwhile we have set up a group of MPs, GLA members and senior local councillors to keep pressure on the airport.



Government gives City permission to expand

The Government announced today that it had given London City Airport permission to expand.  It endorsed the recommendation of the Inspector who heard evidence at a Public Inquiry held earlier this year.

City Airport will be allowed to build a taxiway and more parking spaces in order to accommodate the larger planes it wants to bring in.  The terminal will also be expanded to cater for the increase in passenger numbers.  And there will parking facilities built.

The Airport has been keen to get expansion because the larger planes will allow it to serve destinations like Moscow and Istanbul, further afield than most of its destinations are at present.

But residents will be hit hard.  London City got permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to concentrate its flight paths earlier this year.  Now those residents face the prospect of more, and larger, planes.

To read the Government decision:  https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-applications-called-in-decisions-and-recovered-appeals


Meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority

Our Chair, John Stewart and Campaign Co-Ordinator Rob Barnstone met with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Wednesday [15 June] to discuss the concentrated flight paths at London City Airport.

The CAA fielded at team of five and gave us nearly 2 hours.

They are aware of the unhappiness amongst communities and local authorities at their decision to allow City Airport to concentrate its flight paths in February 2016.

They listened to what we had to say.


We outlined the problems:

Things had changed noticeably for many communities in East and NE London. City Airport had argued that they could get away with minimal consultation because the changes they were making were not significant as many of the planes were already flying something approaching concentrated routes.  We pointed out that many people had noticed a real difference since February. 

We also pointed out that the CAA seemed to have no mechanism to look at changes over time.  The only reason City Airport could even begin to argue during the consultation that some of the changes proposed were not significant (for example, departures over Leyton, Leytonstone and Wansted areas) was because “significant changes” had been made in 2008 when the flight paths were changed to accommodate the larger planes which needed to make a much wider turn when leaving the airport.  The smaller ‘turbo-prop’ planes made a sharp turn when taking off, barely flying over many of the areas that now are under a concentrated flight path.  The CAA seemed to accept our point that there was no organisation responsible for assessing the changes over time.


This map shows the current concentrated flight paths across north-east London

This map shows the current concentrated flight paths across north-east London

We also outlined what the February changes meant for South London.  City aircraft fly over South London when an east wind is blowing before turning over the West End and City to land at the airport.  Until February they were dispersed pretty widely over South London but now they are concentrated over particular communities.  Most of these communities are overflown by Heathrow planes on the days there is a west wind.  They now get concentrated City aircraft when there is an east wind, thus no break from aircraft noise.  The CAA accepted that there was no organisation which assessing the implication of these kind of flight path changes.

The concentrated route across south-London

The concentrated route across south-London

We stressed that respite was important to local communities.  The CAA felt the introduction of respite was difficult in East and North East London because the airspace City aircraft use is very constrained – largely by Heathrow aircraft. Therefore, spreading City aircraft or creating additional flights paths (in order for those under concentrated flight paths to obtain respite) would be difficult.  They accepted that this would be less problematic South London, although an expansion of the airspace which City aircraft are permitted to use might be required.

The CAA outlined what happens next:

City Airport is required to gather data on whether the airspace changes made in February are functioning as expected.  The data gathered will also include a noise impact – City Airport would need to record any unintended consequences.  That data must arrive at the CAA by February 2017 (although the CAA would be looking for a 6-month interim report).  The CAA will then analyse that data and decide within three months, in May 2017, whether changes need to be made or to authorise the continuation of the scheme.  However, the CAA played down the likelihood that they would intervene to make changes, and they certainly won’t propose or initiate changes.  They are likely, though, to take into consideration any significant discontent from local communities or local authorities about the changes.

It became clear that pressure needs to be put on the airport by communities and local authorities to consider changes.  City Airport is keen on the concentrated routes because they make it easier to guide planes when landing and taking off.  NATS also like them because the new computer technology in the planes means that air traffic controllers are much less involved in guiding the them, thus saving NATS time and money.


What do we do next?

HACAN East will:

·         Lobby City Airport to abandon its current plan to concentrate all its flight paths over particular communities and instead to introduce respite so people an get some relief from the noise

·         Bring together a cross-party group of politicians to assist in this lobbying

·         Organise a series of public meetings to inform local communities about the latest development

·         Encourage local people to email and write to the airport and the CAA.

What you can do:

Email or write to the airport and the CAA to tell them about your experience of living under the concentrated flight paths. Two key contacts are below.


London City Airport: James Shearman, Environment Manager at:

London City Airport, City Aviation House, Royal Docks, London E16 2PB

Email: environment@londoncityairport.com

Or call +44 (0)207 646 0200


Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - information or complaints concerning flight paths:

Directorate of Airspace Policy, K6 G7, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE

Email: aree@caa.co.uk


Please include info@hacaneast.org.uk in your emails to one of the above organisations, as it helps us build an even broader picture of your thoughts and feelings on the issue.

Concentrated Flight Paths: big concern for Leytonstone residents

HACAN East was delighted to speak at the Annual General Meeting of FORA, the residents' association which represents many of the Leytonstone residents right under the new concentrated flight paths.  We heard about the real impact the flight paths are having on people's lives but were able to give them some hope in that the Civil Aviation Authority, which is required to review the changes by February next year, has agreed to meet with HACAN East.

'Dodgy' Poll released by London City Airport

London City Airport has released the findings of a poll which showed that “77% of East London business decision-makers are in favour of London City Airport’s expansion plans.”  Comres, on behalf of City Airport, polled “business decision-makers” in Canary Wharf, Westminster, Soho and the City.

ComRes surveyed 1,002 business decision-makers in Central London business districts by telephone between 11th February and 2nd March 2016. Respondents were based from Canary Wharf in the East, through the City of London and Bank, to Westminster and Soho in the West of the capital: http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/london-city-airport-business-survey/

 But HACAN East campaigners have dismissed the poll as 'dodgy'. They say it stretches the definition of East London beyond belief.  It places Soho in East London and suggest that London City’s new PR team need to brush up on their geography pretty quickly.  Soho is East London?!


Angry Residents Pack Public Meeting


On a cold and wet Friday evening  on 22nd April, angry residents packed a Public Meeting staged by HACAN East in Leytonstone.  The meeting heard from HACAN East chair John Stewart and from local MP John Cryer.

Resident after resident told the meeting about how their quality of life has got a lot worse since the flight paths from City Airport were concentrated over them.  But both John Cryer and John Stewart felt that, as a result of the pressure that has been brought, both London City Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are becoming more response to residents.

John Stewart is expected to be invited by the CAA to a meeting to talk about how local residents can become involved in the review of the concentrated flight paths which the CAA must conduct before February 2017.

And it became clear at the recent Public Inquiry into City Airport's expansion plans that, in response to pressure from MPs, local councils and residents, Newham Council (the planning authority for the airport) looks like it will become more rigorous in ensuring that City Airport obeys the rules and regulations under which it is allowed to operate. 

City Airport issues "community pledge" for Waltham Forest

Local residents group HACAN East dismissed a new “community pledge” for the London borough of Waltham Forest as both “desperate and irrelevant.”  The plan, launched by London City Airport on Thursday 21st April , highlights a “five-point community pledge” for residents of Waltham Forest. 

London City Airport’s 5-point Community Pledge

 We will continue to:

 Jobs:  Ensure more jobs for locals – joining the East London residents who already work at London City and comprise 64% of our entire workforce

 Education:  Broaden our community outreach and work with more local schools to develop students’ education and career prospects, including work experience opportunities at the airport

 Community: Support and invest in community initiatives, adding to the £2.7 million already spent by London City Airport in East London since 2009.  Raise more money for local causes, including our long-standing commitment to Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton

 Environment:  Operate more fuel efficient and quieter aircraft from and to the airport

 Business:  Create more procurement opportunities for local businesses – adding to success stories like our on-going contract with Greenwich-based start-up Crowd Vision

 Nearly 27,000 Waltham Forest households will receive leaflets over the next week, with a further 136,000 pledges distributed across other East London boroughs.

HACAN East that the plan was high on nice-sounding rhetoric but low on specifics.  It also pointed out that this is the same airport which refused to leaflet local residents to ask or inform them about concentrated flight paths but now can deliver over 100,000 PR leaflets.




Public Inquiry closes on 5 April

The Planning Inquiry into expansion of City Airport ends today [5 April].

The Inquiry, which has been sitting at City Hall since 15 March, is a result of City Airport's appealing of the Mayor of London's decision to overturn Newham Council's decision to allow the expansion of City Airport. HACAN East are attending as a Rule 6 Party.

On the final day of the Inquiry, all parties gave closing statements, which will inform the Planning Inspector's final conclusion as to whether the airport should be allowed to expand. A decision is expected in the summer. HACAN East's closing statement can be viewed here.

A more detailed update, and a blog post will follow in coming days.