Jobs, pollution and noise: Newham ponders London City Airport report

International flights resume at London City Airport in Royal Docks today. Picture: Andrew Baker

London City Airport's most recent performance report has been considered by councillors. - Credit: Andrew Baker

London City Airport received more than 700 complaints in 2019, figures show.

Out of 722 gripes about the Royal Docks hub, 535 were about aircraft noise - 63 concerning flight paths.

Of the total, 124 complaints were made by one person. Ninety-two were made from within Newham.

In 2018, a total of 405 were made, according to the airport's latest annual performance report.

The report's key issues - including noise, air quality and jobs - were discussed by members of Newham Council's strategic development committee on Tuesday, January 26.

The document also shows the hub contributed more than £1million to council coffers in 2019.

Members heard take-up of a scheme to guard homes against noise was a concern. Permission to carry out works at a "significant" number of properties in the area was held up by freeholder the Greater London Authority (GLA).

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Dave Whittaker, the town hall's airport monitoring officer, said tenants and leaseholders were interested, but according to Transport for London - which is responsible for management of the GLA's estate - blanket permission can't be granted because of a legal agreement.

"Someone needs to get in there and bang some heads together. There must be some way of freeing up the log-jam. It's frustrating for all concerned," he added.

Cllr Daniel Blaney, who chairs the committee, offered to write to London's deputy mayor for housing in a bid to help.

Members heard all planning conditions and Section 106 obligations controlling noise levels from aircraft were met in 2019 with pollution levels continuing to be under legal limits.

It was impossible to measure separately pollution coming from the airport and toxic air from elsewhere, the meeting heard.

Cllr Harvinder Singh Virdee was told nobody knows if the hub might request more take-offs and landings to claw back losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, threatening pollution levels.

There was "disappointment" targets around hiring people from the borough were missed.

A 2016 agreement requires London City to use ‘"reasonable endeavours" to make sure at least 70 per cent of new recruits employed directly by the airport live in the area with half the percentage living in Newham.

A total of 28pc of those employed in 2019 lived in the borough. The committee heard "reasonable" efforts were made to meet the target and certain jobs requiring specialist skills may not have been available in Newham.