Features

Speaking up about noise

Wanstead-meeting-two

A packed hall gave London City Airport representatives a tough time over their expansion proposals at the public meeting in Wanstead last month. John Stewart of campaign group HACAN East reports

London City is proposing to almost double flight numbers from their current level, end the 24-hour weekend break and operate more planes in the early morning and late evening.

Airport representatives came under particular fire during October’s public meeting for not knowing the noise impact for Wanstead if the plans went ahead.

The proposals are part of London City’s Master Plan, which sets out its vision for the airport until 2035. Tim Halley, Director of Planning at London City, argued the airport believed the demand would be there to justify its expansion proposals. But he was at pains to stress they were only proposals and that the airport would take account of responses to the consultation before coming out with any final plans. The consultation ended on 18 October.

The airport expects to publish a final Master Plan towards the end of this year. If it decides to go ahead with any of the expansion proposals, it will need to draw up a detailed planning application to go before Newham Council, the airport’s planning authority. If Newham Council turns it down, the airport has the right to appeal, which would involve a public inquiry.

At the Wanstead Library meeting on 3 October, there was a lot of passionate criticism of London City’s decision in 2016 to concentrate its flight paths. It means that certain areas get all the planes. The fear was expressed that if the expansion proposals go ahead, people in the affected places will be living under a ‘constant sky of sound’.

However, London City is now being required to reassess its flight paths as part of airspace changes that will be introduced at all airports in London and the South East around 2025.  In a couple of years’ time, London City will consult on options for its new flight paths. These are expected to include the idea of multiple flight paths which can be rotated each day to ensure each community gets a break from the noise.

Whatever the future holds, it is certain there will be many more public meetings in Wanstead on aircraft noise, flight paths and any expansion proposals London City comes up with.

For most of its history, London City Airport has concentrated on the immediate area surrounding the airport. Now, Wanstead is very much on its radar. That is not going to change. My sense is the local people will keep Wanstead on the agenda. There was a determination at the meeting that London City be held to account. I expect a locally based campaign will start up to make it an issue in the forthcoming mayoral and London Assembly elections.

For more information on HACAN East and future meetings, visit hacaneast.org.uk
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John Stewart