Big Debate: Should London City Airport’s expansion have been denied?

London City Airport has been denied expansion by Boris Johnson

London City Airport has been denied expansion by Boris Johnson - Credit: Archant

This week our Big Debate asks if Boris Johnson was right to halt London City Airport’s expansion

Big Debate: John Stewart, of Hacan East, and Declan Collier, of London City Aiport

Big Debate: John Stewart, of Hacan East, and Declan Collier, of London City Aiport - Credit: Archant

Despite receiving the backing of Newham Council, London City Airport has been denied planning permission for its City Airport Development Programme. The push to extend infrastructure was condemned by campaigners Hacan East on grounds of noise pollution, but supporters cited the benefits it could bring to Newham in the form of jobs, quieter aircraft and more flight movements. After mayor of London Boris Johnson’s decision to veto expansion, we ask: Should London City Airport’s expansion have been denied?

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John Stewart, chair at HACAN East

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Boris Johnson’s decision to refuse permission for London City Airport to expand may have come as a surprise but it was always on the cards that somebody would stand up to the airport.

London City is paying the price for being so cavalier about noise.

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And it has a history of refusing to engage with residents and elected councillors over its plans.

Last year it came up with proposals to concentrate its flight paths over certain communities.

But it refused to leaflet the areas involved or talk with any local authority – except Newham.

Residents were frustrated, councillors were furious and the Greater London Authority wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport criticising the airport’s behaviour.

In turning down the expansion application, London’s Mayor showed he simply did not believe London City’s claims that an expanded airport using larger planes would mean less noise.

Newham is the one borough which has consistently – and controversially – backed the airport.

It does so on the basis that it provides jobs.

In fact, the number of people employed by the airport is surprisingly small – less than 1,000, with another 2,000 or so jobs indirectly dependent on it.

Since the mayor’s decision, London City spin doctors have gone into overdrive, citing jobs that would be created by the expansion.

Be very wary!

There are less jobs at the airport now than in 2009, when it said it would create 1,500.

The airport’s lack of honesty – be it about noise or jobs – has proved its downfall.

Local people, elected councillors and the Mayor of London simply don’t believe what it says.

Unless it cleans up its act, people may question whether east London needs it at all.

It has become the embarrassing relative among the exciting new developments which are taking place at the Royal Docks.

Declan Collier, CEO at London City Airport

London City Airport (LCY) is perplexed and disappointed by the Mayor refusing planning permission for the City Airport Development Programme (CADP) – a scheme to extend infrastructure to achieve an already-permitted growth in flight numbers.

The decision goes against everything Boris Johnson promotes and it is ironic that, for all his talk of promoting business in London, he is actually denying the capital a business opportunity.

It is doubly ironic his decision was taken on one of the airport’s busiest ever days, when more than 16,500 passengers passed through the terminal.

Demand for the connectivity we provide is growing, driven by the success of London as a global business centre.

Development at LCY, which is in line with aviation policy, would inject extra capacity into London at a time when capacity is very constrained and will be at least until 2030 – the earliest date new runway infrastructure can be delivered.

The CADP could deliver 2,000 new jobs in east London, £750million a year to the UK economy, quieter longer range aircraft, and would create a world-class gateway to the burgeoning economic and tech centres that are London’s Royal Docks, Queen Elizabeth Park and Stratford.

Independent research by ComRes showed 68 per cent of people in Newham support the development and almost 85pc believe the airport benefits the borough.

We have the strictest noise regime of any UK airport and noise mitigation for CADP included a cap on aircraft movements, a commitment to seek to reduce noise contour areas, incentives for quieter aircraft, enhanced sound insulation with 100pc funding for dwellings most affected, a new noise monitoring system, sound insulation to protect dwellings prior to construction and noise barriers.

Newham is behind LCY and businesses are too – it seems the Mayor is very much on his own.

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